Mike Gundy wants fans to understand, all is well. Remain calm.
After Oklahoma State lost its first game to Texas in five years – and its first in Austin, Texas, since 2008 – the Cowboy coach pointed to a number more comparable to recent Cowboy success.
In OSU’s 36-30 loss to the Longhorns, Oklahoma State still had amassed 494 yards of offense – just four shy of that put up by Texas. But the big difference was how many plays in which it took OSU to move the ball – utilizing 89 offensive plays for an average of 5.6 yards per play, to Texas’ average of 7 yards per its 71 offensive plays.
“I don’t want people thinking that we didn’t move the ball,” Gundy said at Monday’s press conference in Boone Pickens Stadium. “I don’t know how many yards we had, but I don’t want to hit the panic button and say we didn’t move the ball. We had two opportunities to score touchdowns and we kicked field goals. That is eight less points. Then we tried a fake field goal when we could have taken more. I think it was just more of us not executing at the goal line.”
Oklahoma State moved the ball to within the Texas 30-yard line on eight separate drives, from which the Cowboys scored all 30 of their points. The offense settled for a season-high three field goals, and for the first game this year failed to have a scoring play of over 50 yards – with the longest score being a 13-yard touchdown run by Chuba Hubbard in the fourth quarter.
In Oklahoma State’s six losses last year, the offense managed just three touchdowns of more than 30 yards, and only two from over 40 yards – a 42-yard score from Taylor Cornelius to Tylan Wallace at the end of the loss to Iowa State, and a 49-yard score between the same tandem in the Bedlam game in Norman. In OSU’s seven victories a year ago, the Cowboys scored from more than 30 yards on 10 separate occasions – twice in each victory outside of South Alabama and West Virginia, which were the only wins that did not include touchdowns from more than 30 yards out.
In those trips deep into Texas’ end of the field, Oklahoma State had two turnovers on down – failing to convert on a fourth-and-1 at the Texas 4-yard line, and failing to convert a fake field goal from the UT 27-yard line on a fourth-and-6 (after a delay of game penalty moved it back five yards).
On its first drive of the game, the offense had to settle for a field goal after three failed attempts to score at the goal line. And on OSU’s final score of the first half – set up by the recovery of a muffed punt by Texas at its own 15-yard line – Hubbard dove into the end zone from one yard out.
“We had success in short yardage situations last year, we had success this year,” Gundy said. “Sometimes the opponent will win those one-on-one battles, sometimes we will. It’s not necessary that we need to do something different, it just happened in that game that we were in position to score a couple times where traditionally, we would score touchdowns.
“That’s the glaring side of what happened in that game. … Offensively, if we score those touchdowns and don’t kick field goals, it’d be a different game. It’s not necessary one thing or the other. Texas is going to make some plays also, they’ve got good guys and they are well-coached. They made some plays and they ended up winning the game based on those key plays. Over the last 10 years, we made the majority of those plays, this year we didn’t.”
On the fake field goal attempt, in which placeholder Jake McClure – who is used only as OSU’s holder and kickoff specialist – flipped the ball toward the line of scrimmage, while still kneeling, and had the shovel pass intended for Jelani Woods swatted away by a Texas defender who trailed Woods off the edge of the line. And when asked about the decision to pull out the trick play when the Cowboys were trailing 29-23 with 14 minutes remaining in regulation, Gundy didn’t have much to say.
“I would rather not talk about fakes, especially ones that don’t work,” Gundy said. “But there’s reasons for me to not talk about that.”
Follow News Press sports editor Jason Elmquist on Twitter @jelmquistSW for updates on Oklahoma State football and other Cowboy athletics.