OSU football report card: Sean Gleeson & Cowboy defense get high marks
Oklahoma State beat TCU 34-27 Saturday, and the Cowboys played well in all phases, particularly considering the bad news Wednesday, when they lost starters Tylan Wallace, Johnny Wilson and Tre Sterling to injury. The grades reflect a strong performance:
Sean Gleeson: A.
This was the rookie offensive coordinator’s finest hour. Mike Gundy said he told Gleeson to keep the same gameplan even without Wallace, and it worked well even without the all-American receiver. The primary features were less passing, to take the pressure off an offensive line missing Wilson, and more running by Sanders. In 14 designed runs, Sanders gained 78 yards. Adding in Chuba Hubbard’s big day, that means the Cowboys rushed for 301 yards on 34 called running plays. An example of the ingenuity — the Cowboys in the first quarter used a formation in which they loaded all five backs and receivers on the left side, faked a handoff to Hubbard running right, and with the extra blockers, Sanders scampered left for a 23-yard gain. They went back to that lopsided formation in the fourth quarter and Hubbard broke free for a 62-yard touchdown run.
Ball hawking: A.
The Cowboys had four takeaways and won the turnover battle 4-1, a week after winning the turnover battle 3-1 at Iowa State. That’s two straight 34-27 wins, buoyed by takeaways. Safety Kolby Harvell-Peel ran down two Max Duggan overthrows for interceptions. Safety Jarrick Bernard made a leaping catch of a Duggan throwaway for another pick. And cornerback A.J. Green laid a hard lick on John Stephens Jr. for a fumble that Harvell-Peel recovered. Start the campaign for Harvell-Peel as Big 12 defensive player of the week.
Containing Reagor: B.
TCU junior Jalen Reagor has been a big-play artist for three seasons. The Cowboys made him a point of emphasis and largely kept him in check. Reagor is one of the nation’s top punt returners, averaging 19.3 per return, but OSU held him to seven yards on a solitary return, due to Tom Hutton’s directional and high kicks. On offense, the Frogs threw 11 passes to Reagor; he caught seven for 128 yards, including a 37-yarder, even though the Cowboys adjusted at halftime and put more safety help on covering Reagor.
Deep passing game: A.
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Sanders threw just five passes that traveled more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. But he completed three of them, for gains of 57, 22 and 47 yards. The first two were touchdown throws to Dillon Stoner. Sanders threw an incompletion early on a deep ball to Stoner that was on target but TCU broke up. Then Sanders threw late on another deep ball to Stoner, and the Frogs’ Trevon Moehrig intercepted. Still, impressive to get that kind of long-ball production without Wallace.
Run defense: B.
TCU entered the game with the Big 12’s third-best running game. The Cowboys mostly held it in check. Duggan scrambled for some big gains. But TCU tailbacks Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua combined for just 79 yards on 22 carries. Add in Duggan’s 55 yards on nine designed runs, and that’s just 134 yards on 31 carries.
Offensive line: B.
A quality performance considering the Cowboys had to start walk-on Ry Schneider at center in place of Wilson. The O-line kept Sanders mostly safe — three sacks, but no QB hurries, partly because of Sanders’ quick scrambling ability — and wasn’t avalanched by TCU’s always-stiff defensive front. Hubbard gained more than five yards on only six of his 20 carries, but two of those went for 92 and 62 yards.
Pass rush: A.
Jim Knowles again had a magic touch on blitzes. The Cowboys consistently made Duggan uncomfortable. Linebackers Malcolm Rodriguez and Devin Harper each had a sack, as did linemen Tyler Lacy, Jayden Jernigan and Israel Antwine. Amen Ogbongbemiga had three quarterback hurries, Trace Ford had two and Rodriguez, Samuel Tuihalamka and Cameron Murray each had one. That’s five sacks and eight QB hurries. Duggan got loose for some big yardage on scrambles, but the Cowboys kept him uncomfortable all game.