Oklahoma State football sees little drop-off despite personnel issues
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Monday, November 19, 2012
11/19/12 at 5:15 AM
Related Story: OSU Football Notebook: Back in a groove
This happened Sunday: Brandon Weeden quarterbacked the Cleveland Browns to overtime against the Dallas Cowboys. Justin Blackmon had a long-awaited break-out game for the Jacksonville Jaguars, catching seven passes for 236 yards.
Weeden and Blackmon are rookies from Oklahoma State, which lost two first-round picks (Weeden and Blackmon) in one NFL draft for only the fourth time in program history.
Twice before, that was the kind of personnel hit the Cowboys couldn't immediately overcome.
Bob Fenimore and Neill Armstrong were taken in the first round of the 1947 draft and OSU went 3-7 the following season.
Barry Sanders and Hart Lee Dykes were selected in the first round of the 1989 draft and the Cowboys went 4-7 without them.
The trend is reversing.
Russell Okung and Dez Bryant were taken among the first 24 picks in the 2010 draft and - thanks to the emergence of Weeden and Blackmon - OSU went 11-2 without Okung and Bryant.
And, in year one minus Weeden and Blackmon, OSU clinched a winning season with a 59-21 victory Saturday over Texas Tech.
With a 7-3 record, the Cowboys can finish the bowl season with no worse than a 7-6 record - and, of course, they're aiming higher.
Mike Gundy won national coach of the year acclaim for guiding OSU to a 12-1 Big 12 championship season in 2011. It's not a stretch to say Gundy and his staff are turning in a better coaching job this season.
Injuries have forced OSU to use three quarterbacks, including two who had never taken a collegiate snap before this season. Senior receivers Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson missed four consecutive games before Anderson returned to duty with a vengeance last weekend. And, despite it all, the Cowboys are averaging eight more yards per game than they averaged last season.
Defensively, OSU isn't living a charmed life in the takeaway department anymore - or at least that was the case until Texas Tech was overly charitable Saturday.
But the Cowboys, who ranked 90th in run defense and 107th in total defense last season, are markedly improved on that side of the ball. They are 24th in run defense and 54th total defense this season.
During a Sunday teleconference, Gundy was pitched a question about whether he and his staff are doing a better job of coaching in 2012 than they did in 2011.
That very well could be the case, according to Gundy. But instead of completely endorsing the "coaching better" theory, he said his staff has had to do "more" coaching this season.
"Sometimes you have teams with - for example, on offense, you have Weeden and Blackmon," Gundy said. "So you run your base (offense) and you are good at it and you are going to say your guys are first-round picks and they are better than the other guys, so we want to play fast and let our good players make plays and have success.
"And we have had to scramble on special teams this year with the injuries to skill players and obviously (scramble) offensively. And then I think defensively we have had really good game plans. So there has been more coaching that has gone on this year than in a number of years here."
OSU will enter Bedlam with rankings of No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and No. 21 in the coaches' poll. That qualifies as getting the job done in a year that could have wound up like 1947 or 1989.
Original Print Headline: OSU sees little drop-off despite personnel issues
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
Oklahoma State's J.W.Walsh (left) passes over Bruce Jones (right) during a football game against Texas Tech in Stillwater on Saturday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World