John Klein: Can OSU rebuild after implosion in Arizona?
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Monday, September 10, 2012
9/10/12 at 4:33 AM
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: Rebuilding after implosion
OKLAHOMA STATE COACH Mike Gundy, just nine months after demanding and getting a huge pay raise, will now have to earn it.
The Cowboys, with a handful of bad receivers and worse defenders, got a quick lesson in reality on Saturday night/Sunday morning in Arizona.
The reality is OSU may have a future superstar quarterback but it also has unreliable receivers, shaky defenders and no discipline.
And, according to Gundy, the Cowboys are also poorly coached.
"It was poor coaching and poor playing," said Gundy. "That's a bad combination."
The Cowboys imploded at Arizona, hit for a staggering 167 yards in penalties, as the Wildcats brought OSU back to reality in a 59-38 victory.
You have to go back a few years to find such a total collapse for OSU football.
Yes, it was on the road in the Pac-12, which proved to be deadly for ranked teams on Saturday. Besides OSU, Nebraska lost at UCLA and Wisconsin lost at Oregon State.
Still, that is little consolation to the Cowboys. O-State looked incredibly sloppy in the loss to a team most believe will finish near the bottom of the Pac-12.
"We gave them 167 yards in penalties and four turnovers," said Gundy. "It was bad football."
OSU fans complained all week about no television for the game in Oklahoma. Consider yourself lucky.
"You can't win, can't be a good football team and you can't win on the road, especially playing like that," said Gundy.
Oklahoma State looked like a team that will be completely overwhelmed in the Big 12 Conference unless it finds some quick answers to defensive and receiving questions. The penalties just added to the misery.
"We need to learn from this and learn to play with adversity," said Gundy. "We have to coach (correcting the mistakes) and talk about it in practice.
"I think they'll be fine, but if not, if we get guys guilty of too many bad penalties, we have to take them off the field."
All is not lost. It would appear that if the receivers can learn how to catch passes, there will be little or no dropoff in offensive production for the Cowboys.
Lunt looks to be the real deal. He threw for 436 yards and four touchdowns, the best game ever by a Big 12 freshman quarterback.
Despite an 18-year-old quarterback, OSU is No. 1 in the nation in total offense (659 yards per game), third in scoring (61.0), first in sacks allowed (zero) and seventh in rushing offense (297.5 yards per game).
It could be argued that OSU's offense is far beyond what most expected. O-State's running backs are terrific as is the offensive line. If OSU's receivers would make a few catches, the Cowboys would really be on fire.
Instead, the receivers matched the lousy defense that OSU played. The Cowboys are going to face offenses with far more firepower than Arizona later this season. Giving up 501 yards to the Wildcats is not encouraging for a defense that many believed would be better this year. It isn't. It is worse.
Gundy has a lot of work to do. Good teams do not go on the road and lose to bad teams. Good teams don't get penalized 167 yards and give up nearly 60 points to anyone.
"It makes us relevant," said Arizona quarterback Matt Scott. "A lot of people think we aren't relevant. We beat a ranked team. We beat a good team."
Yes, OSU was ranked. No, the Cowboys aren't a good team.
Lunt was good enough to give hope that OSU will become a good team sometime this year.
As OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken had predicted in preseason, Lunt has been fine through two games. He's actually far more calm, confident and steady than many of OSU's veterans.
If you get rattled at Arizona, what's going to happen when you go on the road to Kansas State, Oklahoma or Baylor?
There is no time for a lengthy fix to the problems. If Gundy doesn't make some speedy changes, and instill an attitude adjustment, it is not out of the question that OSU could lose again this week.
The Cowboys could find themselves in more trouble this week if they can't learn to be more disciplined and catch passes. Louisiana-Lafayette may actually be better than Arizona. Certainly ULL has done more in recent games than Arizona.
Gundy got more money because there was a belief he's perfect to handle this kind of difficult situation.
Time for Gundy to earn that big raise.