Just 10 minutes into the game on Saturday, the Oklahoma State Cowboys trailed the Boise State Broncos 10-0, and it wasn’t looking good. The Broncos were playing on their signature blue turf, they had all the momentum in the stadium, and the Cowboys couldn’t get anything going. That all changed on the next possession, however.
With 5:01 left in the 1st quarter, the Cowboys had only had one possession, a three-and-out, compared to the 10 point scored by the Broncos. Then, on the first play of Oklahoma State’s second possession, Jaylen Warren ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run to get the Cowboys right back into the game.
All was not well, though, as Boise State answered with another touchdown and field goal to make it 20-7 in the Broncos favor with 6:26 left in the first half. Then, the magic happened. Spencer Sanders orchestrated a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. To be clear, the drive was almost entire running plays with most of them by Jaylen Warren, but Sanders had a couple of 10-yard runs himself, and he deserves some credit. The biggest play on the drive, though, was a defensive pass interference call on a 3rd and 18. On the very next play, Warren ran it up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown run to draw the Cowboys within a touchdown of the Broncos.
The Cowboys had plenty of momentum at that point, but with a little over 2 minutes left in the half, Boise State was undoubtedly looking to score. Unfortunately for them, Malcolm Rodriguez had other plans as he punched the ball out of George Holani’s hands, and Devin Harper recovered it at the Bronco 21-yard line. The Cowboys nearly spoiled the opportunity after a false start penalty on Danny Godslevske on a 2nd and goal at the 1, but Sanders gained the 5 yards back on 2nd and goal at the 6, and then he punched it into the end zone on 3rd and goal at the 1 to give Oklahoma State their first lead of the day.
Entering halftime, the Cowboys led 21-20, and after the flurry of scoring to end the second quarter, it was expected the second half would feature much of the same. Instead, the defenses prevailed, and in the end, the halftime score was the final score, and despite a number of opportunities by Boise State to take the lead, the Cowboys left Idaho with a win.
Jaylen Warren is That Dude
Earlier this week, I wrote in my offensive keys to the game that Jaylen Warren needed more carries and should be the featured back. That was exactly what happened on Saturday as Warren rushed the ball 32 times for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns. His second carry of the day was the biggest play of the game, and it was ultimately the momentum shifter that saved the day for Oklahoma State.
Now that Warren has proven he’s capable of shouldering a massive load in the run game, he should be given the ball at least 20-25 carries a week. The problem now, however, is that opposing defenses are going to have his number, and if the Cowboys can’t figure out the rest of the offense, it’s not going to be a good time for Warren or anybody in black and orange for that matter.
Don’t Blame Spencer Sanders
Any time a quarterback completes a single-digit number of passes, there should be cause for concern. Sanders finished the day throwing 6-for-13 (46.2%) for 87 yards and no touchdowns. A line like that looks absolutely terrible, but he shouldn’t get much of the blame.
A big reason for the lack of the pass game was the inability of the offensive line to protect the pocket. Yes, the run game finally made some progress, but give Jaylen Warren credit for continually bouncing to the right spot and breaking tackles. When it came to Sanders dropping back for a pass, he rarely had time go through his reads, and when he did make a good throw, his receivers struggled to hold on to the ball. There was one specific sack on Sanders where he simply took too much time to get rid of the ball, but besides that, I thought he played a pretty solid game.
Despite his low passing numbers, he was still able to run the ball successfully, finishing with 15 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown. He proved that his mobility and athleticism are what make him so dangerous, even if he can’t have a crazy good day throwing the ball.
The Defense is Kind of Good
Entering Saturday’s matchup, Boise State was averaging 42.5 points through their first two games. Despite scoring early, the Broncos struggled once the Cowboy defense was able to get settled in and lock things down.
Boise State jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, and they led 20-7 with just a little over 6 minutes left in the first half. From that point forward, however, the Cowboy defense shut down the Broncos offense, leaving them scoreless the rest of the game.
After racking up 232 yards of offense through the first quarter and a half, the Broncos were held to just 81 yards the rest of the way, and 76 of that came in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State’s defense line played a major role in the lockdown, and they managed to sack Hank Bachmeier 4 times as a result.
The Cowboys have already been bit by the injury bug, losing Trace Ford and Tre Sterling for the entire season, but that hasn’t stopped the defense from stepping up to the plate. As the old saying goes, it’s next man up, and Oklahoma State’s defense has a lot of depth to make that transition happen a little more easily.
Get Used to Hearing Jason Taylor’s Name
Speaking of next man up, Jason Taylor might be the best “next man up” situation that could happen for a team. After Saturday’s win over Boise State, Mike Gundy announced that Tre Sterling would miss the remainder of the season. Who is going to start in place of Sterling? None other than Jason Taylor, the guy that got a hand on the Boise State field goal attempt at the end of the game.
Taylor has a fan club of sorts because of his big play capabilities over the last couple of seasons. Despite being a backup, it seems to be the case that whenever he’s on the field, he’s in the middle of making something crazy happen. Last season, he returned a fumble by Kansas State for a go-ahead touchdown late in the 4th quarter, and then a couple of a weeks later he returned an onside kick attempt by Texas Tech for a late touchdown to give the Cowboys the lead and eventually the win.
Tre Sterling is one of the best defensive backs in the country, and he will be sorely missed, but Jason Taylor is going to do everything he can to fill the void successfully.
Let Conference Play Begin
Oklahoma State kicks off Big 12 play with a home evening matchup against Kansas State next Saturday. Both teams enter the game with 3-0 records, and the Wildcats come in ranked 25th in the AP Poll, while the Cowboys are no. 22 in the Coaches Poll.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6 PM at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, and it will be televised on ESPN+.
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