Carlson: OSU football scores high marks from Dezmon Jackson, defensive havoc against Texas Tech
On a day OSU and Texas Tech treated us to an old-school BIg 12 shootout, there were lots of crazy moments. Some good and some bad for the Cowboys. The grades reflect as much after a 50-44 victory.
Dezmon Jackson: A
Hard to believe this guy has been sitting at third string this season. With Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown sidelined by injury, Jackson stepped in and stepped up. Big. He rushed for 235 yards on 36 carries and scored three touchdowns. He could’ve had a fourth but iced the game instead when slid down inside the 5-yard line in the final minute of the game. As impressive as his numbers were, the way he ran was even better. He was patient when he needed to wait on blocks. He was tough when he needed to get to the sticks for a first down. He was speedy when he went around the edge. It’s impossible to know when Hubbard and Brown will be healthy again, but Jackson showed he can carry the load in the meantime.
Defensive havoc: A
The Cowboy defense has had better all around performances this season, but it hasn’t had a game where it has caused more havoc than Saturday. OSU had two fumble recoveries, both by Tre Sterling. The Cowboy safety had quite a day as he also returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown. The OSU defense also notched a safety when Cowboy linebacker Calvin Bundage forced Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman into an intentional-grounding penalty in the end zone. Jason Taylor II’s 48-yard onside-kickoff return for a touchdown doesn’t count as a defensive touchdown, but it feels a bit like it since he’s a defensive back. On a day the OSU defense gave up too many big chunk plays, they made up for it some big plays of its own.
Limiting big plays: D
Speaking of big plays, the Cowboy defense gave up 17 plays of 10 yards or more, and seven of those were 20 yards or more. The Red Raiders had touchdowns of 59, 24, 48, 70, 32 and 31 yards. Woof. Those are the type of plays Cowboy defenses of yesteryear used to give up, but this year’s bunch has limited the cross-country plays. But Texas Tech gashed OSU on runs and on passes. It was a total mess.
Ball control: D
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The Cowboy offense gave the defense no help, especially in the second half. When the OSU defense looked extremely gassed, the offense had no interest or ability to put together a long drive. After halftime, the Cowboys had no possession last longer than 2:18. Five of their nine second-half possessions lasted less than 90 seconds. It made for some tough sledding for the OSU defense. That’s not the only reason why the Cowboys struggled to stop the Red Raiders, who had only gone over 30 points in Big 12 play twice this season. But the OSU offense sure didn’t help matters, playing no-huddle, up-tempo offense much of the day and then struggling to move the chains when it did.
Offensive line: A
The Cowboys’ best offensive lineman, Teven Jenkins, wasn’t even on the sidelines Saturday. With him out with a back issue, you figured the beleaguered offensive line would be, well, more beleaguered. It was quite the opposite Saturday. The Cowboy offensive line limited the Red Raiders to one sack and two quarterback hurries. Even though Texas Tech has struggled to get to opposing quarterbacks this season, you figured the OSU offensive line would be under siege while missing Jenkins as well as top running options, Hubbard and Brown. But the offensive line stood tall.
Run blocking: A
More kudos to the offensive line as Jackson went over 200 yards. But kudos, too, to Cowboy offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn. The Cowboys loaded up on blockers Saturday, going with multiple tight ends and limiting the number of wide receivers on the field. Of OSU’s 88 plays, 38 of them featured only two wideouts. Adding heft helped the offensive line open more running lanes and better options in the run game.
Late-down defense: C
The OSU defense allowed Texas Tech to convert 4 of 16 on third down and 4 of 5 on fourth down, a conversion rate of 38.1 percent. Not terrible. But two of the conversions in the first half were long-yardage rushing touchdowns, the first for 59 yards, the second for 24. In both cases, the Cowboys had no safety help. That’s likely on Cowboy defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. He’s pushed so many correct buttons this season, but those two plays were not good and allowed Texas Tech to hang around longer than it should’ve. But the Cowboys fixed some of those issues in the second half, even coming up with an interception for a touchdown on a third-down play. But then late in the game, those late-down problems seeped back in as the Red Raiders converted two fourth-down plays on their final touchdown drive.