The beautiful bubble that football fans in Oklahoma were living in was violently burst on Saturday when TCU rolled into Stillwater and wrecked the utopia of an all Oklahoma Big 12 championship game. By way of their 44-31 win, the Frogs put themselves on the inside track for a trip down the road to Arlington on December 2nd. Oklahoma State isn’t eliminated from the race at all. Technically, they still control their own destiny. If the Pokes win out they’ll have a shot at a rematch in Jerry World, but they’ll need to figure out how to overcome these fatal flaws first.
Poor Ball Security
We honestly should have seen this one coming. It isn’t like Oklahoma State has a spotless record in this category. They turned the ball over twice against Tulsa and then twice more against Pitt before turning it over four times on Saturday. TCU is the first team the Pokes have faced this season that are capable of making them pay for the mistakes.
There Are Protection Issues Along The Line
The easy thing to do here would be to point to the injury situation with Zachary Crabtree and Larry Williams and move on. However, Mason Rudolph was sacked three times on Saturday afternoon but they Cowboys had also given up three sacks prior to the TCU game. Considering the level of competition, having your star quarterback sacked six times and harassed regularly can’t leave a ton of confidence in the five guys up front.
Mason Rudolph Is Doing Some Questionable Things Under Pressure
He’s got one of the best collection of receivers in the country at his disposal and he knows how to use them. That said, if something doesn’t open up immediately, or if Rudolph is forced to scramble, he has had more than his share of, “What were you thinking?” moments.
He fumbled against Tulsa trying to escape the pocket and make a pass down field. He was picked against Pitt on a questionable decision. He was blind-sided against TCU when he held the ball too long. He also had a play in the TCU game where he threw the ball away and was fortunate that it landed harmlessly considering that it was still in bounds.
In my opinion, this has a lot to do with his mental clock. When things aren’t immediately there he has to know how much time he has to safely get rid of the ball, and that time is cut short when the offensive line is banged up.
I still maintain that Rudolph is the best draft eligible quarterback in the Big 12 but he’s got to work on pocket awareness.
The Defense Has Holes
This is the “Captain Obvious” statement of the day, but let me just say that it isn’t as bad as it looked on Saturday. The problem is that we just didn’t know about this defense. They had looked stellar through the first three weeks but the reality is they hadn’t faced an fully functional offense yet. Tulsa didn’t name a starting quarterback until game time, South Alabama lost their quarterback on the opening possession, and Pitt’s quarterback situation had been a struggle from the opening of the season.
TCU provided the perfect storm for an untested defense. The Frogs are extremely balanced with their offensive attack which provides for maximum exposure of the holes. TCU entered the game averaging 270 yards through the air and 230 on the ground against a fairly decent non-conference schedule.
Are the Cowboys the team we thought they were a week ago? No! They absolutely are not. Should they just wave the white flag of surrender after one loss? No! They absolutely should not! Getting exposed isn’t always a bad thing. If you’ve got flaws then you want to discover them sooner rather than later. Now, it’s up to O-State to get things shored up before Saturday night’s road trip at Texas Tech.