Tramel OSU football report card: Big plays tell the tale in Cowboy defeat at TCU
OSU’s 29-22 loss at TCU on Saturday was the result of giving up too many big plays, not producing enough big plays and failing to take advantage of prime opportunities. The report card is not pretty:
Deep-ball game: D.
OSU long has been a deep-threat passing team. If the Cowboys lose that portion of the game, they are hard-pressed to win. The Cowboys lost that portion of the game. OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders threw deep 12 times and completed just two, 28 yards to Braydon Johnson, setting up a field goal, and 55 yards to Tylan Wallace. Meanwhile, TCU quarterback Max Duggan threw deep 10 times, completing four for 206 yards, plus a throw that drew a pass interference penalty. Duggan’s completions went for 58, 31, 46 and 71 yards, the latter the eventual game-winner to Derius Davis. It didn’t help that OSU played the entire second half without cornerback Rodarius Williams and safety Tre Sterling.
Containing Duggan: C.
TCU quarterback Max Duggan did little to hurt the Cowboys in the first half. But Duggan’s mobility began paying off. In the second half, Duggan produced gains of 42, 28 and 26 yards off running plays. His 42-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-1 ignited the Horned Frogs early in the third quarter. OSU held Duggan’s scrambles in check; they sacked him twice and allowed him to run for positive, but minimal, yardage only twice.
Second-half run game: D.
OSU tailback Dezmon Jackson had a strong first half, with 94 yards on 18 carries. But TCU bottled up Jackson in the second half, when his longest run was four yards and he gained just 24 yards on 11 carries. The Cowboys found some success with Sanders keeping the ball on option plays — fourth-quarter gains of eight, 11 and 14 yards — but it came too late to make a difference.
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The Cowboys produced five takeaways. One interception and four fumble recoveries. All four fumbles came in a scrum, not on a hard individual hit, just Cowboys fighting for the ball, with Malcolm Rodriguez (once) and Amen Ogbongbemgia (a school record thrice) pulling the ball from the grasp of Horned Frogs.
Score zone: D.
The Cowboys reached the TCU 20-yard line on five possessions. They managed just one touchdown and one field goal out of those drives. And OSU had another fruitless possession that reached the TCU 25-yard line. In the second quarter, a holding penalty against Josh Sills sent the Cowboys backward, leading to a missed 42-yard field goal. Another threat ended with a 37-yard miss. Sanders threw an interception in the end zone on a second-and-goal play from the TCU 9-yard line, after two holding penalties set the Cowboys back.
Offensive line: B.
The Cowboys’ beleaguered blockers held up reasonably well against TCU’s normally-solid defensive front. The Horned Frogs were credited with no sacks and only two quarterback hurries, though Sanders occasionally did scramble. And the first-half running game was impressive. The second-half dropoff has to fall mainly on the coaching staff’s failure to counter TCU adjustments.
Kicking game: C.
Yes, the place-kicking was a disaster. A missed extra point off the upright by third-team kicker Ben Freehill, which eventually cost the Cowboys three points, because it forced Mike Gundy to try a (missed) 2-point conversion in the second half and allowed TCU to later try a (successful) 2-point conversion. Two missed field goals from second-team kicker Brady Pohl, from 37 and 42 yards (though Pohl did make a 31-yarder). But the rest of OSU’s special teams were excellent. OSU’s Tom Hutton pinned the Frogs inside their 20-yard line five times on nine punts. Jake McClure pinned the Frogs at their 1-yard line on a corner kickoff. TCU had zero kickoff return yards and minus-three punt return yards. And OSU had two clutch kickoff returns, a 16-yarder from fullback Dayton Metcalf on a squib late in the first half, helping set up a field goal, and a 33-yarder from freshman Brennan Presley that gave OSU good field position after TCU took the 29-22 lead.