Oklahoma State slows it down when necessary
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State’s offense slowed its typically up-tempo offense in its last game, but coach Mike Gundy was made clear that the game circumstances dictated the change.
After squeaking out a 33-29 victory over Kansas State on Oct. 5, the No. 21 Cowboys (4-1, 1-1 Big 12), coming off a bye week, intend to have their offense back up to speed when they host conference rival TCU on Saturday.
“We lost three receivers for the last game so it limited our ability to play fast,” Gundy said. “There are times in a game where we can move really quick, then based on matchups and what we think gives us the best chance to score points, it varies some from week to week.”
Oklahoma State benefited from K-State turnovers that led to favorable field position. Three field goals capped off possessions that did not even feature a first down and the Cowboys 330 yards of total offense marked their fewest of the season.
It will be a challenge to improve that number against TCU (3-3, 1-2), which owns the Big 12′s second-ranked defense. The Horned Frogs have not allowed more than 20 points in a game since their season opener, a 37-27 loss to LSU.
“TCU is a team that I don’t think their record exemplifies the type of team they are,” Gundy said. “They are playing real well on defense. We definitely have our work cut out for us. We need to have a good week of practice and our plans haven’t changed. We need to be as sound as possible in the kicking game and limit big plays on defense so we can take care of the ball on offense.
“Up to this point, they are as good of a defense and as physical a defense as anyone we have seen on tape up to this point.”
Utilizing their quick-paced offense to keep defenses off balance has been the Cowboys’ trademark, as they attempt to tire out opponents and catch the defense in compromising matchups.
“We try to be as fast as we can in order to try to wear (an opponent’s) defense out and trying to disrupt their communication,” offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “We have to make sure we’re getting quality reps on every snap. We want to be sound on our assignments and make sure we know where we’re going and know the adjustments we have to make based on the defense.
“At times, we need to take our foot off the gas in regards to tempo to do that. We’re working hard on it, and our guys know it’s part of our identity, so we don’t want to lose that. We want to continue to progress and be fast on offense. That’s what we do best and we’re trying to get back to that.”
And as Gundy alluded to, Oklahoma State will likely need its kicking game to be in order. Freshman kicker Ben Grogan seems to have finally found his stride, as he connected on four of five field goal attempts against Kansas State, with the fifth one getting blocked.
That was after he converted just one of four field goal tries through the season’s first four contests, including two crucial misses in the Cowboys’ 30-21 loss at West Virginia on Sept. 28.
“He continued to work hard and kicked well in practices,” said Gundy, whose confidence in Grogan never wavered. “He seems to be stable mentally. At times with a freshman at any position, especially one who is out there on his own as a field goal kicker, you might worry about that but he has handled himself very well up to this point.”
Overall, the Cowboys are convinced that if their offense performs to its capabilities on Saturday, they will emerge victorious, regardless of how good or physical TCU’s defense is.
“They play relentless football. Whoever has the ball, they get after them. They play sound ball, and I think it makes them pretty good,” said running back Jeremy Smith, whose seven rushing touchdowns ranks tied for second in the Big 12. “But each week, it’s about how we prepare for the game. Not taking anything away from them, but if we go out there and take care of business, anything is possible.”