With the Cyclones headed to Stillwater, we checked in our #DrinkAlliance buddies at Cowboys Ride for Free. Phillip Slavin was kind enough to give us the lowdown on the Cowboys.
1. The Pokes have played two quality teams so far this season, with one being an impressive win over Boise State, and the other being a big loss to Tech the following week. Thus, it’s been hard for people outside the Oklahoma State sphere to get a read on what this team really is. Is the team closer to the one that beat the Broncos by three touchdowns, or the one that lost to Tech by a similar margin?
I believe you saw the best of Oklahoma State (Boise State) and the worst (Texas Tech) and that they are likely somewhere in the middle. I actualy think the Kansas game was a better representation of what Oklahoma State is; a really good team against the rush that racks ups sacks and TFLs. The run “runs” the offense with the passing game there to compliment it. The team is still solidifying its identity, but through five games, that’s what this team looks like. Solid, not amazing, good enough to beat just about anyone in the Big 12, but also capable of losing to just about anyone in the Big 12. Except Kansas of course.
2. Justice Hill is one of the two best running backs in the Big 12, and is averaging an absurd 7.5 yards per carry. What’s been the key to getting him so much space to run?
The offensive line has been better as the season has progressed, but really the reason Justice Hill has been so good is Justice Hill. He’s the kind of back who can turn a 3-yard loss into a 4-yard gain, and do so regularly.Mike Yurcich does do a good job of scheming to try and get Hill out into space, but even between the tackles, you don’t see Hill stopped at the line of scrimmage too often.
3. With Darrion Daniels out for the season, what’s your projection for the defensive line going forward, and what affect will his absence have on this weekend’s game?
The defensive line has been one of the stand-out units on a solid Oklahoma State defense. There is no “replacing” Darrion Daniels, as he was he best player on the line. That said, there is quality depth there. Enoch Smith did a solid job filling in for Daniels last week against Kansas, and will hold down that spot the rest of the season moving forward. I think, with OSU having already dealt with not having Daniels last week successfully, they’ll be prepared to do the same this week.
4. Taylor Cornelius has stepped in at quarterback and performed admirably thus far. Oklahoma State’s scheme is good enough to make a lot of quarterbacks look good, but how do you think he handles facing a stingy Cyclone defense that forces quarterbacks to either beat them with their legs, or make lots of short to intermediate throws into tight windows?
Well, you just named two things Taylor Cornelius (a.k.a T.C., a.k.a. Corndog, a.k.a the Oil Barron) is really good at; running and short to intermediate throws. It’s his deep ball that’s been the problem all season, though it did look better against Kansas (take what you will from that). For a guy who is 6’ 6”, he’s pretty darn mobile and has some solid escapability. He’s also surprisingly accurate throwing the ball on the run. So if ISU’s defensive plan is to make him run and throw short passes, you might want to come up with a different one.
5. With Jalen McClesky’s transfer, the Pokes lost a big-time deep threat. Does his departure lower the ceiling for the offense, or they deep enough at receiver to fill the gap?
So far (and again take from Kansas what you can) OSU has been fine. Former walk-on wide receiver Landon Wolf filled the open starting spot last Saturday and looked good. He caught six balls for 116 yards and one touchdown. Plus, with guys like Tylan Wallace and Tyron Johnson, OSU is going to be just fine, even if Dillon Stoner has to miss another game with injury. OSU has been pretty lucky over the last decade. When one receiver goes down, there’s usually another guy ready to go.
6. If Oklahoma State is going to win what needs to happen? If the Pokes lose, what’s the most likely headline on Sunday?
Run the ball succesfully. I know Iowa State is stout against the run, but for OSU’s offense to play well, it’s going to have to start with the run game. A healthy combination of Justice Hill, J.D. King, and Chuba Hubbard grinding out yards and getting out into space will open things up for Taylor Cornelius both in the run game and through the air. They also have to continue to limit opponents’ run games. They’re currently No. 1 in the Big 12 and 25th nationally against the run. Shut down David Montgomery and make Zeb Noland beat you, and OSU should come away victorious.
If OSU loses? The headline will depend on who is to blame for the loss. But most likely? OSU offense stagnant in second Big 12 game Leads to calls for QB change.
7. Prediction time. Who do you got?
Hoo boy. You guys are going to looooove this. I’ve got Iowa State 20 - Oklahoma State 17. ISU’s defense will be the best Oklahoma State has faced this season. I have a bad feeling that things OSU is bad at (special teams, penalties) are going to culminate in a loss this week.