Oct 3, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver James Washington (28) carries the ball as Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Danzel McDaniel (7) defends during the second quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gundy knows that the Cowboys running game hasn’t been up to par this year. He also knew that he was going up against the third-best Power-5 run defense in the country. To make matters worse, both Chris Carson and Rennie Childs were missing the game with injuries.
So the Cowboys did what they should do in that kind of circumstance: throw the ball.
The result? 55 pass attempts from Mason Rudolph, with 34 completions, 437 yards, and three touchdowns. Yes, he did manage to throw an interception, but it was more of a lucky catch from a K-State defender who was lying on his back and caught a deflection.
Rudolph was clutch every single time the team needed it, including when he converted a huge fourth down on the game-winning drive. The sophomore was back to his usual unfazed self, standing with incredible poise in the pocket, and never appearing flustered or forcing anything. Simply put, he did everything he needed to do to get his team a win.
Running game-wise, the numbers look pretty terrible — 49 yards on 27 attempts, but they don’t tell the full story. The Cowboys were sitting around 80 yards when you take out Rudolph’s sacks, good enough to reach the average amount allowed by the Wildcats on the season, which was 78.3 yards per game coming into the matchup. Nothing to brag about, but when the Cowboys needed positive yardage on a play, whether it was third-and-short, or on the goal line, they got it.
For instance, consider this touchdown from Raymond Taylor — who threw a defender off of him more than once during the game:
Or how about this run from Jalen McCleskey, who was actually pretty successful on all of his rushing attempts:
The Cowboys never appeared to be forcing the run the entire game, but rather were strategic in it’s use, mixing things up with end-arounds and reverses a few times even. For the first time all season, the play calling had some surprises, some new looks, and some overall boldness.
And guess what? It worked.
It’s as if Mike Yurcich lost half the playbook before the season began, but suddenly found the rest of it under a pile of stuff in the trunk of his car, pulled it out, looked at it, and was like “Oh…yeah we should use these.” Not unlike finding an old mix CD under the passenger seat that you made eight years ago.
Bottom line, the Cowboys had no problems moving the ball for the most part. Gundy came in with a great game plan, stuck to it, and reaped the benefits, allowing for a career day from Rudolph while minimizing mistakes. Some dumb penalties and the usual troubling offensive line play brought this one down to a ‘B’, but it’s a solid one at that.