Carlson: OSU football grades high in QB pressure, low in ball security against West Virginia
OSU’s Big 12 opener wasn’t perfect. Too many fumbles that could’ve been costly. Too many missed tackles early. But on a day veteran quarterback Spencer Sanders was sidelined by injury, the Cowboys scored a 27-13 victory over West Virginia. The grades reflect a solid day.
Quarterback pressuring: A
The Cowboy defense got all kinds of pressure on Mountaineer quarterback Jarret Doege. OSU recorded five sacks and nine quarterback hurries, and the Cowboys hit Doege at least half a dozen more times. He took enough shots to the mid section that it made my ribs hurt. And the good news is, the Cowboys got pressure from a variety of players in a variety of ways. They mixed blitzes and stunts, and it kept Doege guessing. He finished 20 of 37 for 285 yards.
Ball security: D
Yikes. OSU put the ball on the ground four times Saturday afternoon. Chuba Hubbard coughed it up twice, Shane Illingworth mishandled a snap that went a little high, and Braydon Johnson muffed a kickoff. The Cowboys were able to recover all four fumbles, but continue being that loose with the ball, and it is sure to bite them at some point this season.
Speaking of Hubbard, he just didn’t look himself Saturday. He went over a hundred yards, but much of the day, he just didn’t seem to have the pop or the elusiveness that made him a superstar a year ago. His touchdown run late in the game was more vintage Chuba, hitting a crease, then stepping through a tackle to scoot into the end zone. It was the kind of run that made you remember how he could be -- and how he hasn’t been often the first two games of this season.
Ring of Honor induction: A
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OSU launched its Ring of Honor in style Saturday. In honoring Thurman Thomas, there was a cool video with Buffalo teammates Jim Kelly and Bruce Smith leading off, followed by OSU teammates Barry Sanders and Mark Moore. Then, OSU wrestling coach John Smith, who Thomas has become friends with, introduced Thurman. He made a short but impactful speech that lauded OSU and Stillwater. But the best part came last — Thomas launched into his Cabbage Patch dance.
Early tackling: D
For as good as the Cowboys were getting pressure on the Mountaineer quarterback, they were equally poor tackling in the first half. They failed to get ball carriers to the ground at the line of scrimmage and in the open field. It was surprising after tackling well in the opener, but OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said the defense only tackled a couple times during preseason camp. “It was a huge focus at halftime,” he said. “All you can do is talk about it.”
Late tackling: A
Apparently, the defense’s halftime conversation about tackling paid off. The Cowboys were much better in the second half. First contact was generally where ball carriers were dropped. Knowles credited the veteran nature of the defense for being able to adjust mid-stream. “That’s that experience,” he said. “They know, and they understand, and they’re able to correct.”
Throwback uniforms: A
Sharp. The Cowboys wore white helmets, jerseys and pants in the style of the uniforms worn by OSU in Thomas’ last as a Cowboy game, the 1987 Sun Bowl. It’s a simple look with the old-school OSU brand on the helmet and a thick orange stripe down the pants. Not a lot of bells and whistles, but that made for a crisp, sharp look.