Every struggling sports team has their fall guy and Oklahoma State is no exception. If you don’t believe the Cowboys are struggling then you’re just not paying attention to what’s going on. The problem is, their placing blame on the shoulders of the wrong guy.
Taylor Cornelius is not the big armed, prototypical NFL quarterback that Oklahoma State fans are used to seeing in Stillwater. However, he’s far from a slouch as well. Currently he’s ranked #6 nationally in passing yards at 1,830. He’s ninth nationally in touchdown passes (16) and just outside the Top 10 (#11) in yards per attempt at a 9.5 average. I guess the main problem is that he can’t block or play defense.
Oklahoma State fans are venting their frustrations at the 4-2 mark (1-2 in conference) through the first half of the season on Cornelius, neglecting to realize that he’s been the primary bright spot on the offense. No, we’re not talking about a perfect quarterback in any sense of the matter here, but we are talking about a guy who should be a lot further down the list of OSU’s concerns.
The OSU Defense Is Flawed
Oklahoma deciding to part ways with defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was a blessing in disguise for the Cowboys. The reason being, OSU also gave up 48 points in a loss on Saturday. Not only did they surrender 465 yards of offense, they did so at home and to a third string freshman quarterback.
Iowa State came to Stillwater averaging 17.5 points per game and left with a six-point boost in their season average. That’s what happens when you score 30 points above your season average.
In two conference losses the Cowboys are giving up an average of 44.5 points and 543 yards of offense.
First year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has gotten a pass to this point. However, the Sooners are off this weekend making Oklahoma State the only show in town. Should the Cowboys slip up in Manhattan then you would have to think that folks will start looking at the defensive side of the press box.
The Offensive Line Can’t Block
Taylor Cornelius completed 19/33 passes on Saturday for 289 yards and four touchdowns, despite being sacked seven times. Yes, he had an interception but to we really want to weigh that mistake with the same weight as an offensive line that seemingly took the day off and a defense that was torched by a freshman?
You know where else Cornelius ranks Top 10 nationally? That would be in the sack category. His 16 on the year rank him #10 among FBS schools and #4 among Power Five Conference teams.
I’ve heard it argued that the sacks are Cornelius’ fault. Well, if you’re going to subscribe to that argument then you also must be willing to admit that Justice Hill’s 2.8 yards per carry on Saturday was his fault as well. Not willing to do that? I didn’t think so.
This OSU offensive line got whipped on Saturday and they’ve been doing so with regularity all season long.
This OSU Team Isn’t Physical
This team is especially soft up front on both sides of the ball. However, receivers don’t fight to separate in coverage against physical defenders and linebackers don’t fight to get off blocks.
Playing physical football is a mindset. It isn’t something that can be coached in to you. You have to want that and embody that to ultimately produce it. A coach can tell you where to be on the field and what to do. The decision to man up and take the fight to the other guy first is a personal one and, to this point, I haven’t seen many guys wearing the orange and black make that choice.
Cornelius Is Slightly Better Than Average
No, he’s not going to be in the conversation for the top quarterback in the league. He shouldn’t be in the conversation for the worst either. He’s slightly above average and that’s been good enough for a lot of programs to win a lot of games, especially in the offensive schemes of the Big 12.
However, the quarterback is the guy in the spotlight. When things go well he reaps the praise and when things go bad he reaps the criticism. Fair or not, that’s life in the limelight.
My opinion is, though, if you look away from the spotlight and into the shadows then you’ll see the real issues with a team. Especially this one!