Carlson: OSU football gets high marks for tackling, targeting tight ends in win over Iowa State
OSU’s 24-21 victory over Iowa State put the Cowboys in the Big 12 driver’s seat. But they took control of the conference race on a day they weren’t perfect. The grades reflect a good, not great day.
Spencer Sanders: C
The third-year sophomore quarterback returned from an ankle injury Saturday and showed some rust. It was to be expected since he hadn’t seen game action in more than a month. Sanders was 20 of 29 for 235 yards and one touchdown, but his biggest issue was interceptions. He had two, his first multi-interception game since last year at Texas Tech. During his career, he has thrown 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions against Big 12 opponents. Sanders needs to stop throwing it to the other team. But even with his interceptions, his feet give OSU another offensive weapon. He rushed 15 times for 71 yards and one touchdown and would’ve had another score if not for a penalty.
Solid all afternoon. Spectacular much of it. The Cowboy defense just didn’t let Cyclone ballcarriers get many yards after first contact. And that was significant with Iowa State’s offensive weaponry, particularly its long and tall tight ends. Charlie Kolar and Co. often make catches against smaller defenders, then do even more damage by getting away from them. OSU didn’t allow that. Iowa State’s tight ends had only seven catches for 86 yards and no touchdowns, and a big reason was OSU’s tackling.
Tight end targets: A
Speaking of tight ends, the ones from Iowa State were the talk of the pregame. But it was the Cowboys who put their big pass catchers to best use Saturday. OSU targeted its tight ends seven times — it calls them Cowboy backs — and Jelani Woods had three catches for 54 yards and Logan Carter had three for 27 yards. But here’s the thing: every catch resulted in a first down or a touchdown. Woods had the score, a 34-yarder in the first half, but every catch by the tight ends moved the chains. Seems like something the Cowboys might want to keep doing, if you like first downs and touchdowns, of course.
Containing Hall: C
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Iowa State running back Breece Hall came to Stillwater riding high, rushing for over 100 yards in every game this season and over 135 yards each of the past three games. He had his biggest total of the season Saturday, rushing for 185 yards on 20 carries. But it wasn’t a disaster for the Cowboys because 136 of his yards came on two runs. Those weren’t good moments for the Cowboys, of course, the second of which was a 66-yard touchdown. But on Hall’s 18 other carries, he had only 49 yards. That’s only 2.7 yards per carry, and that’s an average the OSU defense should be proud of.
Maybe I’m getting soft in my old(er) age, but the Cowboys’ gray jerseys Saturday didn’t seem all that bad to me. I’m on the record as being hard core, anti gray uniforms, mostly because the names and numbers have been nearly impossible to make out. These gray jerseys? Much better. Maybe my opinion is skewed by the fact the Cowboys wore matte black helmets and black pants, and that made for an extremely sharp look. But the gray jerseys? I’d rather not see them again for a while, but Saturday, they were OK.
Not sure there’ll be a better day for football in Oklahoma. Temperatures in the 50s at kickoff. Mostly sunny. Light winds. It felt like fall, and in our state, we don’t always get those days during football season. Lots of years, we go from summer to winter. Saturday, we got fall — and it was glorious.