Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia: 10 Things We Learned in the Cowboy's Loss
It was not what many expected, but West Virginia knocked off Big 12 rival Oklahoma State 30-21 in Morgantown on Saturday.
The win was a huge surprise to most. A lot was learned about both of these teams during the Mountaineers' victory.
Coming into the game, the Cowboys were a huge favorite, but that did not seem to matter to a West Virginia team that was poised to pull off the upset.
That is precisely what happened on Saturday afternoon.
What exactly did the loss tell us about Oklahoma State? Here are 10 things we learned in during the Cowboys nine-point defeat.
The Running Game Is Virtually Non-Existent
So far this season, JW Walsh is the leading rusher for Oklahoma State. That is not always a good thing, and it showed on Saturday afternoon.
Walsh rushed for 52 yards, but no other player rushed for more than 46.
The running game was virtually non-existent for the Cowboys, and that was one of the reasons why the team struggled to move the ball so much on offense.
As a team, Oklahoma State finished with 111 yards on 40 carries. That is only good for an average of 2.8 yards a carry.
No question, this group needs a little work.
JW Walsh Is Lacking a Little Arm Strength
While it is no secret that quarterback JW Walsh does not have the strongest arm in the world, that was on full display Saturday.
He came up short on more than a few occasions and just did not have the arm strength to get the ball down the field, particularly when he was scrambling out of the pocket.
Walsh struggled for most of the game. Part of that had something to do with the fact that he missed short on so many passes.
The Defense Is for Real
West Virginia is not exactly an offensive juggernaut, but the Oklahoma State defense is much better than it has been in recent years.
The Cowboys defense allowed 388 yards of total offense, but a lot of that was due to the fact that so many plays were being run.
These two teams passed on most downs, with a lot of incompletions. That always means more plays for both squads.
West Virginia only averaged 1.7 yards per rush and 6.3 yards per pass attempt.
Those are solid numbers for a defense that just did not have enough to overcome three turnovers by its offense.
Turnovers Are a Difference Maker
The Oklahoma State defense forced two West Virginia turnovers, but the offense gave it back three times, including a pick six that gave West Virginia a lot of momentum, while evening the score at seven.
No matter how good a team is, it is never an easy thing to overcome turnovers, particularly three of them.
Those turnovers forced the Oklahoma State defense to spend more time on the field than it is typically used to, and ultimately helped cost the Cowboys the game.
Penalties Are a Killer
While turnovers always seemingly play a part in the outcome of a close game, penalties are always a close second.
The Cowboys were sloppy, particularly at the beginning of the game. They finished with 10 penalties for 94 yards, including multiple pass interference calls and personal foul penalties.
That not only played a large part in the field position battle, but also helped preserve a few West Virginia drives.
Head coach Mike Gundy needs to find a way to cut out those penalties in the weeks ahead.
Josh Stewart Is an Absolute Playmaker
What Oklahoma State lacks on offense are playmakers. There are not a lot of them, but one player who is as explosive as they come is wide receiver Josh Stewart.
Stewart caught seven passes for 127 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.
He is a guy who can do a little bit of everything with the ball in his hands, but getting him the ball was not easy against West Virginia.
Too bad for Oklahoma State, there are not enough players like him on its roster.
The Punting Game Is a Question Mark
With as many incompletions as both teams threw, it is no surprise that there were 18 punts in the game, including 10 by Oklahoma State punter Kip Smith.
He did recover to have some solid punts by the end of the game, but he struggled mightily early on.
Smith only had one of his 10 punts reach 50 yards and averaged 37.9 yards over those 10 attempts. He hit a few that were extremely ugly, including a 13-yarder that bounced right back where it came from.
The last two games for Smith have left a lot to be desired.
With the way the offense is playing, he is going to be on the field more than expected. If that is the case, he will need to improve.
Field Goals Are Also a Huge Issue
Coming into the game, kicker Ben Grogan was 1-for-1 on the year on field goals. He had also made 19-of-19 extra points.
He struggled big time on Saturday.
Grogan did hit on all three extra points, but missed both of his field-goal attempts. Those misses proved to be extra costly and were part of the reason why Oklahoma State came out on the short end of the stick.
It is still too early to tell with only three attempts whether or not he is the guy.
Head coach Mike Gundy will soon find out.
Scoring This Season Is Not Going to Be Easy
Oklahoma State has only played two teams with enough talent to come anywhere close to competing. In both of those games, the Cowboys have posted 21 points.
Needless to say, scoring points is not going to be as easy this season as it has been in year's past.
The toughest part of the schedule is coming up. Head coach Mike Gundy needs to find a way to try and balance an offensive attack that could use some help running the football.
If that does not occur, opposing defenses will have the ability to tee off on JW Walsh.
The Season Is Not over Yet
While this loss certainly ruins any slim national title hopes Oklahoma State had coming in, the Cowboys still have an excellent shot to win the Big 12.
There are some challenging games, particularly at the end of the year. The final two battles of the season come against Baylor and Oklahoma. But, both of those are at home, and the team will have plenty of time to regroup by then.
Mike Gundy has done an excellent job every year at Oklahoma State. He will almost certainly figure it out this year, and the Cowboys will find themselves in the conference title mix by the end of the season.