Rumors began circulating yesterday that junior wide receiver and Biletnikoff Finalist Tylan Wallace has a torn ACL. Today, they ramped up a bit.
Word is that he was injured in practice on Wednesday, left, and did not return. Yesterday, he had an MRI, but it was not conclusive, so the jury is out still out on the status of both the severity of the injury and whether or not he will play tomorrow against TCU. At this point, all signs point to him being done for the season.
If Wallace does indeed sit, which at this point, I think it’s safe to assume that will be the case, then the Cowboy offense is going to have to take on a somewhat drastically different identity. Spencer Sanders loses over half of his season-long production in throwing the ball if you take away Wallace’s stats, and the next man up isn’t even close.
So, how does Oklahoma State’s offense function without Tylan Wallace?
Pound the Ground Game
The Cowboys have experienced varied success with running the ball so far this season, but the ground game has never been more important than perhaps now.
Sophomore Chuba Hubbard, a Maxwell Award finalist, leads the nation with 1,381 rushing yards averaging 172.6 yards per game. His 16 rushing touchdowns is just one behind from the nation’s leader.
Spencer Sanders has been successful running the ball at times this season as well, racking up 500 yards with his legs.
So it’s not like the running game has been an issue overall, but the Cowboys have struggled to make things happen when needed. Multiple times this season Oklahoma State has failed to cross the goal line despite looking at a first-and-goal situation with short yardage to go.
If the Cowboys are going to stand a chance against TCU, they have to run the ball effectively. The Horned Frogs are giving up just 103.7 rushing yards per game (15th in the NCAA). If the big boys up front cannot get a push on the line, the running game will suffer, and that will lead to even more issues.
Spread the Ball Around
Spencer Sanders has completed a pass to 14 players not named Tylan Wallace. Of those 14, though, only 5 of them have recorded a minimum of 10 catches for the entire season. By comparison, Wallace has hauled in 53 receptions already.
The most likely candidates to see an uptick in usage are Dillon Stoner and Jelani Woods. Stoner has been a consistent short-yardage receiver for the Cowboys over the last few years, and Woods has been severely neglected so far this season at the Cowboy back position in the Oklahoma State offense.
Dillon Stoner has caught 25 passes so far this season, but he has yet to find the end zone. There’s a good chance that could change this weekend, and if the Cowboys want to compete with the Horned Frogs, they would do well to look for him.
Jelani Woods is a guy with a ton of potential, and his upside in this situation cannot be stated enough. He’s not been used much at all this season, recording just 10 catches for 85 yards. However, he could become a more prominent feature in the offense very quickly.