By Michael Doutey
The Oklahoma State Cowboys handled their business against McNeese, 56-14 in OSU’s home opener in front of a sold-out Boone Pickens Stadium. Now the Pokes turn to week three and their short road trip to Tulsa to face the Golden Hurricanes. But here are tonight’s five observations from the Poke’s second win of the season. Also, please note that these notes are taken knowing the opponent they played tonight. I wanted to put that up front so you didn’t have to read that after every point.
The Cowboys defense was disappointing in the opening week. While Oregon State is better on offense than most will want to admit, the Pokes looked to have a better performance in week two. On the second play of the game, AJ Green jumped a route and intercepted Cody Orgeron’s pass, taking it to the house for the first score of the game. The Cowboys were very sound in their run fits tonight. There were hardly any holes or small opening for McNeese running backs to run through. From a technical standpoint, this was a clean game and they executed very well. The Cowboys had two interceptions on the night. Deep in the game, OSU had two very impressive goal-line stands. McNeese was inside the one-yard line and what was primarily a unit of second and third teamers. But the Pokes didn’t break. The defensive front didn’t flinch. McNeese went for it on 4th-and-goal from the one both times. Trace Ford tipped the first past attempt at the line of scrimmage to end the drive. Then Sean Michael Flanagan had a pass break up on the second fourth-down attempt. This isn’t an offensive juggernaut. But McNeese’s head coach is Sterlin Gilbert. You might remember him from the Art Briles line of offense. He also was the offensive coordinator at Tulsa when they were elite on offense and then moved to Texas to be their OC. This is an offense that OSU will see, just with the superior talent surrounding it. But after this week, this is a great way to bounce back from a shaky week one performance.
The Offenses Slow Start
The offense didn’t look as crisp to start this game as they did in week one. The offense scored just one touchdown in the first quarter. Combine that with the fact that OSU punted on their first drive and fumbled on their second. Spencer Sanders got off to a slow start. He was erratic throwing the ball. Even on passes, he completed, he was wasn’t as dialed in and wasn’t as accurate as he was last week. He did settle down and look pretty good to end the first half. He did quite a bit of damage with his legs, leading the team in rushing with 51 yards on 12 carries. Hubbard wasn’t featured as much, just carrying the ball eight times for 44 yards and one score. But the story of the night was Tylan Wallace who ran away from the defense and made a case that he is has improved upon an impressive season last year.
Tylan “Biletnikoff” Wallace
Last week Chuba Hubbard was the best player on the field. This week was Tylan Wallace. Wallace was tremendous, catching five passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns. He had a highlight, Sportscenter Top 10 level catch along the home sidelines. He caught two short passes and raced his way untouched to the enzone, totaling 132 yards-after-catch on those two plays alone. He again displayed his ability to make ordinary plays extraordinary. I swear he is faster this year compared to last season. On one of his long runs, there were defenders in perfect pursuit and he still outran them to the house. I know it was against a lower team. But come on, that was special. But my favorite play from him tonight was his second TD catch. The one where he ran to the back of the endzone and worked his way back to Spencer Sanders and catching the ball at the front pylon all while tight roping the out-of-bounce line. It was impressive. This guy is a complete pro and once again showed why he is one of the elite players in the country.
Dru Brown’s Cowboy Debut
We got to watch Dru Brown for real tonight. Midway through the third quarter. In his time on the field, he showed that he has some game. He completed 7-10 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. His first TD throw was to CJ Moore, who took a simple hitch route and blistered his way to a 59-yard touchdown. The next drive he made the throw of the game, buying a little time in the pocket to free up speedster Braydon Johnson for a 69-yard touchdown. He showed off his arm and his ability to get the ball out quick to his playmakers. He also isn’t afraid to run the football. He isn’t Spencer Sanders running, but he has some ability to pick up some quick yards when he needs to. It was a good debut from Brown, proving he is a viable option if he needs to play in the future.
Why Tonight Still Mattered
This was a talent mismatch. So only so much of this game means much. But it was cool to see a few things tonight for some guys who won’t play a ton this season. The second interception came from Phillip Redwine-Bryant. The senior former walkon is a leader on this team. He is a special teams contributor who has worked his way on scholarship this season. But he nearly took his pick back to the house, getting knocked out at the one-yard line. As much as it would have been cool to see him score, it did set up a touchdown for walkon running back, Micah Cooper. It was nice to see players who normally don’t get in the game or are young get to see the field. Guys like Shaun Taylor, who is a walkon quarterback, get time is fun to see. It was also nice to young guys like Langston Anderson record his first collegiate catch or Deondrick Glass get his first carry. This night is not one for the memory books for most. But for some of the players, they accomplished lifelong dreams in this game. And that is pretty darn cool.
OSU is on the road next week against an in-state foe, Tulsa Hurricanes. Kick is set for 2:30 p.m. next Saturday at Chapman Stadium.