Oklahoma State report card: Sean Gleeson & Spencer Sanders get high grades
Oklahoma State’s 52-36 victory over Oregon State was vintage Cowboys – explosive offense, leaky defense. The Beavers are not a great barometer, because their defensive trends the last few years are abysmal, but it was a breezy road victory against a Power 5 Conference foe, and the grades reflect a solid win:
SEAN GLEESON: A. The OSU offensive coordinator made his major-college debut and had Oregon State off-balance all night. In the first half, the Cowboys didn’t even look like their Air Raid self, using four wide receivers on just five of 43 snaps, totaling just 17 yards. Then in the second half, the Cowboys ran 11 plays with four wideouts in the third quarter alone. OSU’s best offense came with two tight ends on the field, but Chuba Hubbard broke off a 53-yard touchdown run in which he was untouched, out of a four-wide formation.
THIRD-DOWN DEFENSE: D. Outside of three straight stops in the second quarter, the Cowboy defense had difficulty getting off the field. The Beavers converted 13 of 20 third-down plays, including twice converting third-and-longs.
SPENCER SANDERS: A. Sanders’ first-quarter decision-making in the run game – whether to keep, whether to hand off – was a little shaky. Otherwise, the redshirt freshman quarterback played a pristine game. Pinpoint passes. Timely and effective scrambles. Poised demeanor. A superb opening game to his OSU career. Sanders’ third-down passing was indicative of such quality play (five of six, 74 yards).
SCENE: B. Corvallis is not in the mountains and not on the coast. But still, Reser Stadium is a beautiful setting, with a mostly-open north end zone displaying the hills of the Willamette Valley in the distance and beautiful trees in the foreground. The crowd was lacking in number (31,681) but was relatively spirited, considering school has yet to begin at Oregon State. The Beavers even had to resort to a makeshift marching band made of “current, former and future” band members.
HIGH HANDS: A. The Cowboy defensive line didn’t have a great game against the run – Oregon State tailbacks combined for 153 yards on 28 carries – but put up a decent pass rush, without having too much blitz help. Best yet, OSU’s D-line tipped four passes from the Beavers’ Jake Luton, including third-down deflections by Tyler Lacy, Trace Ford and Cameron Murray. Ford had a second tip, and safety Tre Sterling tipped a 2-point conversion pass.
RUNNING GAME: A. The Cowboys rushed for 324 yards on 47 designed runs. That includes a monster game from Hubbard (221 yards on 26 carries, the second-most yards in a game by a Cowboy since 2010). But Sanders gained 76 yards on nine designed runs and finished with 109 yards on 13 carries.
TAKEAWAYS: D. The Cowboys had just 13 takeaways last season, the lowest in school history. It’s disconcerting that they had zero against the Beavers. OSU did have a good chance at three. Replay review overturned Sterling’s interception of a tipped pass. Safety Kolby Harvell-Peel dropped a sure interception. And Oregon State receiver Tyjon Lindsey fumbled late in the second quarter, but no Cowboy got close enough to the ball before Lindsey scrambled to recover.