By Nick Snow
STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State football team may have come out on top of a 33-29 chess match against Kansas State Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium but one question will still linger as the Cowboys go into the bye week.
What’s wrong with the offense?
Three times the Oklahoma State defense turned the ball over inside the Kansas State 35-yard line. Three times the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal.
“We need to become a better football team from the 7-yard line in,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “That’s a fact. The defense gave us plenty of opportunities to score touchdowns and maybe put the game out of reach against a team that in our opinion might not be a great two-minute offensive team, but we didn’t take advantage of that.”
Oklahoma State did rack up 330 yards of offense — well below the 474 it had been averaging coming into Saturday’s game. But when the Cowboys needed to sustain a drive, the offense finally answered the call — recording four first downs en route to Charlie Moore’s go-ahead touchdown with 4:13 left in the fourth quarter.
“It just showed the maturity of our team,” Oklahoma State sophomore quarterback J.W. Walsh said. “We were stagnant, not being able to move the ball. Then when we really needed it everyone stepped up and made plays.”
But in truth, Oklahoma State shouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with. While Gundy said he was pleased with Walsh’s ability to throw the ball compared to last week against West Virginia, the running game left something to be desired.
The Cowboys only rushed for 85 yards, the second time Oklahoma State has been held under the century mark this season. Of those three short drives, Oklahoma State ran the ball five times with little success.
“You have to run the ball, but at the same time, you can’t sit here and point fingers,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Yurcich said. “It’s a shared responsibility. Run game, whether it’s receiver blocking, the quarterback making decisions, the play call or the offensive line blocking, it’s all shared. We’ll come back and watch the film tomorrow and work hard to get where we need to be.”
Even as the Cowboys entered the red zone, the play calling seemed to shy away from the run game as Oklahoma State ran the ball five times in 19 plays inside the 20.
“When we were between the 20s our running game wasn’t that bad,” Gundy said. “Some of these numbers are a little bit skewed based on being inside the 7-yard line, where we were poor running the football.
“We’ve got to get a lot better, there’s no question. We have to continued to be balanced, and one thing I think everybody realizes ... the defense and the way (Kansas State) plays is going to squeeze the run and allow the pass in our opinion.”
The offense may not have been perfect in Saturday’s win against Kansas State — far from it, actually. But with a bye week looming, at least the Cowboys are building off a win.
“We just have to come out and play better,” Walsh said. “We didn’t play very well on offense in the third quarter. We just have to come out and overcome whatever it was that we were having problems with and move the ball.
Nick Snow is a sports reporter for The Stillwater NewsPress.