On Saturday, the Oklahoma State Cowboys will take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock, one of the Big 12’s rowdiest stadiums. The Cowboys are fresh off 26-13 win at home over the Kansas State Wildcats, and the Red Raiders left Norman with their tails tucked between their legs after a 55-16 thrashing at the hands of the Oklahoma Sooners.
Texas Tech’s defense looked super suspect on Saturday, and after Oklahoma State’s different struggles on the offensive side of the ball the last couple of weeks—particularly in the red zone—the Cowboys should try to capitalize in a few key areas.
Air It Out
Freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders has performed above expectations so far through 5 games, but there are plenty of ways that he can improve. While he’s been generally successful on the ground, his passing game has lacked variety.
Of his 1,043 passing yards so far this season, Sanders has thrown 618 of those to junior receiver Tylan Wallace. Wallace has also caught 6 of Sanders’s 8 touchdown passes. Last Saturday was the most one-sided game of the season for the Cowboy passing attack as Wallace was responsible for all but 8 passing yards. Moving forward, Sanders has to find a way to get the ball to other guys like Dillon Stoner, CJ Moore, and Jelani Woods.
Take Care of the Ball
After playing a clean game in the season opener at Oregon State and not giving the ball away at all, the Cowboys have had two turnovers each game since. Spencer Sanders has thrown 5 interceptions and lost a fumble, and as a freshman, it’s expected that he’s going to make mistakes, but he needs to clean up his play and make better decisions. Losing the turnover battle is not an area Oklahoma State can typically manage.
Finish in the Red Zone
Perhaps the most important focus for the Cowboy offense moving forward should be finding the end zone once inside the opponent’s 20. Oklahoma State’s red zone success so far has been laughable, particularly in the last couple of weeks.
Out of 22 red zone attempts thus far, the Cowboys have scored touchdowns on just 12 of those. 9 trips have resulted in a field goal, and then there was that horrid call on 4th & Goal against Texas that resulted in a turnover on down.
The primary problem with the red zone offense has not really been execution or capability but playcalling. Who to blame may be up for dispute, but whoever is at fault needs to get out of the way and stop holding the team back. Red zone trips need to end in touchdowns, not field goals.