Oklahoma State Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Kansas State Game

Bradlee RossCorrespondent IIJanuary 14, 2017

Oklahoma State Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Kansas State Game

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    The Oklahoma State Cowboys fell to the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday in a close fought game that had major Big 12 title implications. Some of the Cowboys played well, while others had performances that contributed heavily to the Cowboy loss.

    It was clear that the Cowboys were not the better team in Manhattan that night, which always makes a loss easier to take. Still, they did largely beat themselves, while failing to beat the other team in most phases of the game.

    The Cowboys must begin to look forward and try to improve from this loss. First, though, we will take a look back and see just how well each starter played against Kansas State.

Quarterback

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    Wes Lunt

    Grade: D+

    Wes Lunt is just a freshman. If he was older, his grade would be an F. He played pretty poorly in this game, especially when it came to taking care of the football. He threw three interceptions, despite missing a large chunk of the game due to injury.

    That is a problem he must begin correcting now. Other than those turnovers, he played very well. He completed 11-of-20 passes for 184 yards and a score, which is not a bad outing. Lunt has major potential, and he will be a star in a few years if he can continue to improve and fix these mistakes.

Running Back

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    Joseph Randle

    Grade: D

    When you are the star on a football team, you are judged more harshly than the rest of the team. That is the way it works. It may not be fair, but that is Joseph Randle’s lot. He did not perform well against Kansas State.

    It is not all his fault. He only carried the ball 15 times, which really is not enough, given the type of player he is. His total of 43 yards rushing is bad even for so few carries, though. Randle must perform better, no matter how good a defense he is facing.

Outside Receiver

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    Charlie Moore

    Grade: A

    No player is taking advantage of the injuries to his teammates more than Charlie Moore. The Kansas State game makes four straight that Moore has had a touchdown in, and he is becoming the No. 1 big play option for this team in the passing game.

    He caught seven passes for 129 yards and a score against the Wildcats, and there is no doubt that he will be a starter next season. After his performances recently, Moore may be a starter for the rest of the season whether or not Isaiah Anderson and Tracy Moore get healthy.

    Austin Hays

    Grade: B+

    This Cowboy team is a young one, and players like Austin Hays are why it has so much promise for the future. The true freshman is a former high school track star, which explains why it was so easy for him to get to the end zone on an early 54-yard touchdown reception against Kansas State.

    He finished with four catches for 81 yards, and he is earning major playing time thanks to the injuries to Anderson and Moore. I expect him to be a major force at wide receiver for years to come for Oklahoma State.

Inside Receiver

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    Josh Stewart

    Grade: A-

    Josh Stewart had what has become a typical game for him, leading the team in catches and nearing the 100-yard mark. He is continuing prove himself as one of the best options on this Cowboy offense.

    Stewart caught eight passes for 92 yards. During the game, it seemed like he did not catch that many. He also rushed the ball once for eight yards. The Cowboy coaches clearly recognize the value in getting the ball in Stewart’s hands, and they need to continue to make it a priority.

    Blake Jackson

    Grade: C

    Blake Jackson has got to get more involved in the Cowboy offense. He only caught three passes against Kansas State, which is a shame considering that he has the potential to be a huge mismatch against most opponents. His unique combination of speed and size (6’3”, 235 pounds) should be a major asset.

    He also has a bad habit of dropping key passes, and that is something that absolutely cannot be tolerated. The Cowboys’ offense is one that relies on timing and sure-handed wideouts, so Jackson really needs to get this problem fixed.

Offensive Line

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    Tackles-Parker Graham, Daniel Koenig

    Guards-Jonathan Rush, Lane Taylor

    Center-Evan Epstein

    Grade: B-

    I decided to grade the offensive line as a unit, which makes it much easier and much fairer to all the players involved. The unit did a fair job for the most part, especially with its pass blocking.

    They only gave up one sack on the night and did not give up another single hit on the quarterback. Their effort in the run game was less impressive, as Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith struggled to get free. The line also gave up multiple tackles for loss on the running backs, which is not good.

Defensive End

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    Cooper Bassett

    Grade: B-

    Cooper Bassett has been a big difference-maker on the defensive front, and he gave a decent performance in this game at Kansas State. He only recorded 2.5 tackles in the box score, but his efforts extended beyond stats.

    Bassett did a good job of not over pursuing the run and filling his gap. He also provided some pressure on the quarterback at times. Not his best game by any stretch, but certainly not his worst either.

    Ryan Robinson

    Grade: B-

    Ryan Robinson played pretty well in this game. Although I would have liked to have seen more in the way of tackles and run defense, he did very well by providing pressure against the pass.

    His one tackle is disappointing, but he did lead the team with two passes broken up. One of them came at a key time and likely prevented Kansas State from extending its halftime lead.

Defensive Tackle

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    Calvin Barnett

    Grade: C+

    It is clear that junior college product Calvin Barnett is still adjusting to the Division I level, but he played fairly well against the Wildcats. He did limit his penalties also, which have been a problem in the past.

    He only came up with a single tackle, but he did clog up the middle somewhat, and his one tackle was for a loss. Barnett will get better as the season goes, and he will be really good next season.

    James Castleman

    Grade: C

    James Castleman has an uncharacteristically forgettable game up in Manhattan, Kansas on Saturday. While he has been a big part of why the Cowboy defensive front is much better this season, he did very little in this game.

    His two tackles are not terrible, especially since defensive tackles do not show up big in the box score very often anyway. The truth is that he just did not do much to stop the Wildcat rushing attack, especially when it comes to getting inside penetration.

Linebacker

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    Shaun Lewis

    Grade: C

    Shaun Lewis is another difference-maker who came up small in this game. Normally, Lewis is one of the players that I notice on a regular basis throughout a game. I did not during this particular game.

    He came up with only 3.5 tackles in this game. A factor in the blitz game most of the time, Lewis failed to get to the quarterback, coming up with a big goose egg for sacks and quarterback hits. This is Lewis’ third year as a starter on this defense, and he should be better than this.

    Alex Elkins

    Grade: A

    Recently, the most impressive player on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys has been Alex Elkins. The senior linebacker amassed 10 total tackles to lead the team against Kansas State, something he has been doing a lot lately.

    Elkins is a big (6’3”, 230 pounds), athletic backer who will probably get at least some kind of chance at the next level. What makes his play even more amazing is the fact that he never played football until he got to Blinn Community College.

    Caleb Lavey

    Grade: B+

    The Cowboys’ linebacker core is finally looking completely healthy again now that Caleb Lavey is fully recovered. The junior has five total tackles against Kansas State. His two tackles for loss led the team in that area and matched the rest of the team’s effort in that statistic.

    Lavey is the biggest of the Cowboy linebackers at 6’3” and 240 pounds, and he made a tangible difference against the Wildcats. It was not enough for a win, but it is encouraging as he moves forward in the season.

Cornerback

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    Brodrick Brown

    Grade: C

    So far, Brodrick Brown’s senior season has not been up to par with what was expected of him before the season. The senior did record four tackles against the Wildcats on Saturday, but he failed to record anything else.

    Maybe I am being too hard on Brown, but more has to be expected of a senior with the experience he has. The Kansas State receiving core is one of the few that Brown does not have a height disadvantage against, but he was unable to capitalize on that in man coverage.

    Justin Gilbert

    Grade: C+

    The only reason that Justin Gilbert gets a very slightly higher grade for this game than Brown does is because he had one more tackle. Other than that, he was just as mediocre and average.

    Like his counterpart, he had to play man coverage for a large chunk of the game so that the safeties and linebackers could focus on stopping Collin Klein. However, despite having the athleticism necessary to succeed, Gilbert was beaten multiple times for big passes.

Safety

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    Shamiel Gary

    Grade: B

    After looking completely lost in certain moments earlier in the season, Shamiel Gary is getting better every week, especially when it comes to helping with the run. He had five tackles against Kansas State, which is not a great game, but it is a valuable effort.

    Few other players on the team did better than Gary, and he will likely make the Cowboys glad to have him by the time he finishes his senior season next year. Gary was a transfer out of Wyoming, and, although he is no Markelle Martin, he has played well recently.

    Daytawion Lowe

    Grade: B-

    Daytawion Lowe is always at the top of the list for the Cowboys when it comes to the defensive statistics, and the Kansas State game was no exception. He accumulated 7.5 tackles and broke up one pass.

    Lowe is always visible on the field and is almost always near the ball. That is the mark of a defensive difference-maker, but he has not been as good as many expected him to be this season. The Cowboy secondary has not been as good as it was advertised, and, even though the primary blame does not fall on Lowe, he still must shoulder it.

Punter/Kicker

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    Quinn Sharp

    Grade: A

    Quinn Sharp was a bright spot for the Cowboys on a not so bright evening. The senior, who will likely be the No. 1 punter taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, averaged 40 yards per punt, although he was unable to pin any within Kansas State’s 20-yard line or even get any touchbacks.

    His kickoffs were better, as he averaged 60 yards per and had touchbacks on three of seven. Sharp was also typically solid on his field goals. He hit three of three, with the longest coming from 43 yards out. The Cowboy offense had major issues scoring on the Kansas State defense, and without Sharp it would have been much worse.