November 03, 2012
After scanning some statistics that have helped Kansas State go undefeated I have found some areas of the game that have been strengths for Kansas State. Interestingly, Oklahoma State seems to have a counter punch for areas the Wildcats have excelled in.
Kansas State's Tyler Lockett ranks eighth nationally with 29.7 yards per return
Counter Punch: Quinn Sharp has the ability to eliminate the kick return game. Sharp almost doubles KSU's touchbacks on the year: 48-28.
Kansas State is tied for fourth nationally converting 54 percent of its third downs.
Counter punch: Oklahoma State defense allows 35.1% of 3rd down conversions going against Kansas States offense converting 56.8%. Kansas States defense allows 43.6% of 3rd down conversions going against OSU's offense which is converting 48.6%
Kansas State has allowed only 3 opponents to start a drive in their Territory.
Counter Punch: Oklahoma State ranks 3rd nationally in yards per game, it should not matter where they start.
Colin Klein is second in nation with a QB rating of 175.5 while Wes Lunt's passer rating is 142.7.
Counter Punch: OSU's defense has 20 quarterback hurries on the year while Kansas State has 4.
Bill Snyder's career winning percentage is .667.
Counter Punch: Bill Snyder has NEVER beaten Mike Gundy.
Joseph Randle and Quinn Sharp will be the offensive players of the game while Castleman and Barnett will the defensive players of the game. Game day is here, grab your popcorn and beverage of choice and get ready for the game of the year.
November 02, 2012
In order for Oklahoma State to keep their Big 12 Championship hopes alive, Saturday's match up against the Kansas State Wildcats is an all-important game. For the Wildcats, this ranks among the biggest games in the Bill Snyder era. Never in Snyder's tenure have the Wildcats finished undefeated and played for a National Championship. This weekend the Oklahoma State Cowboys are going to try and keep it that way.
Three weeks ago nobody would have given the Cowboys a chance to steal this game. However, after three solid performances and a deeper understanding of the team's capabilities, more people have jumped on the upset band wagon. If you expect the Wildcats to be tamed easily think again, and in order for the Cowboy's to pull out a win there are a few numbers that should be watched closely. If Osu can win these key points Saturday, don't be surprised if they walk away with a victory.
I have come to the conclusion that Bill Snyder is the greatest coach I have ever seen in person. In his glorious tenure at Kansas State the "Silver Fox" has posted a record of 151-5 when leading at halftime for an astounding 97% winning percentage. It is essential for Osu's offense to get off to a fast start. If the Cowboys fall behind early expect a loss.
1.3% vs. 7.0%
Oklahoma States offensive line allows a QB sack on 1.3% of drop backs while the Kansas State defense sacks the QB 7% of the time. A QB sack is one of the most important plays of the game. It can lead to turnovers, injuries, and even kill drives. If the offensive line can produce a favorable ratio, the Cowboys should have success moving the ball.
In basketball these are called 50/50 balls. When the ball is put on the turf, usually, the teams that are in better position and out hustles the other team recover these fumbles. As of now, the Kansas State defense recovers 75% of all fumbles while Oklahoma State operates at about 50%.
The Kansas State offense is ranked number one in the nation in points per play. The Oklahoma State offense averages .46 points per play despite moving the ball better than the Wildcats. This number is a direct result of red zone scoring efficiency. The cowboys must convert red zone field goals to red zone touchdowns.
During Snyder's second tenure, the Wildcats have caused 13 turnovers and given up 22 turnovers in conference loses. This year the wildcats have turned the ball over only once in conference play while creating 14 turnovers. Thus, the turnover battle will play a huge role in the game and will more than likely determine the outcome.
Since 2005 only two teams have gone undefeated in conference play, and as we saw last year games get more difficult the longer a team stays undefeated. If Oklahoma State can win these few important aspects of the game don't be surprised to see the Cowboys give KSU their first loss of the year.
The Wildcats will be seeing the best defensive line they have faced all year. Barnett and Castleman have developed into game changing defensive tackles over the past three games. The Wildcats will face the most balanced offense they have faced all year. If the Cowboys can limit mistakes and play unaffected by the Manhattan faithful the game should come down to the last 5 minutes.
Expect Snyder's team to be prepared, but also expect Gundy's team to come out with an attitude and excitement for getting to play on national TV for the first time all year.
Prediction: Osu 34 Kansas State 31
November 02, 2012
In 13 games during 2011, the Oklahoma State offense turned the ball over 23 times. Last year's Cowboys lost 10 fumbles and threw 13 interceptions to average 1.77 turnovers per game (TO/G). The 2012 offense has been slightly more charitable through 7 games, having coughed up 5 fumbles and 8 interceptions for an average of 1.86 TO/G.
A further look into these numbers reveals that fumbles lost per game has actually improved slightly in 2012 — down from .77 in 2011 to .71 in 2011. This is exactly the trend most fans would expect with a returning stable of proven running backs (although both wide receivers and kicking game specialists can also negatively affect this stat). Interestingly, the 2012 Cowboys are running the ball an average of 9 times per game more than the first seven games of 2011. By any measure, fewer lost fumbles over more opportunities is a positive takeaway.
Inversely, the interceptions per game have gone up from an even 1 per game under Brandon Weeden to 1.14 under the "Walnut" (Walsh and Lunt) duo in 2012. Magnifying the interceptions per game statistic, the 2012 Cowboys are throwing an average of 9 fewer passes per game when compared to last year*. Accounting for attempts, this year's team is averaging a full interception per 100 attempts more than during Brandon Weeden's tenure (through 7 games).
With 20 takeaways, Kansas State boasts one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country. Combined with a stingy offense, the Syndercats are currently #4 in the nation in turnover margin at +2. For the Cowboys to prevail in Manhattan, Wes Lunt and the offense must improve on turnovers. I can think of no better time to start.
October 31, 2012
OSU 36 TCU 14
|Quarterback||B||Lunt was rusty and looked terrible the first half. He showed toughness after getting rocked a few times and came back strong and had a nice day.|
|Offensive Line||B+||The unit as a whole played very solid. Gave up 0 sacks, and ran the ball effectively, but not well enough for an A grade.|
|Running Backs||B+||Randle was solid and had a nice day on the ground. He only averaged 3.9 yards a carry. A good day but he is capable of more.|
|Wide Receivers||A-||The banged up WR unit played very well. Especially considering Lunt's poor performance in the 1st half.|
|Coaching||A-||Red zone struggles were apparent. The staff did really well mixing up some trick plays to get the offensive rolling early.|
|Cornerbacks||B||Much more improved, but I am still going to grade them on their potential. Brown and Gilbert combined for 7 tackles but 0 passes broken up and 0 interceptions. Still, they played very sound defense.|
|Safeties||A+||The unit had a great game. They tackled well and were continuously lined up properly. FINALLY, the defense created some turnovers (safeties combined for 2).|
|Linebackers||A-||Very strong day. Continuously blowing up plays. Saw a nice emergence of talent with Lyndell Johnson.|
|Defensive Line||A||Played well on the interior line, and good at stopping the rush.|
|Coaching||A+||The defense is rolling and Bill Young should be getting the credit for the increase in play. We are finally seeing what we expected.|
|Punting/Kickoffs||A-||Quinn Sharp: enough said.|
|Punt Return||C-||Really not good at all. Moore does not look comfortable, and averaging 3.8 yards a return. Why not put Josh Stewart back deep?|
|Kick Return||C+||Averaged 32 yards per return, BUT the fumble was unacceptable. If we put it on the ground this week, KSU will take advantage of it.|
|Field Goal||A+||Sharp was 5/5, and that is 100% where I come from.|
|Coaching||B+||Can't fumble kick Returns.|
|Conduct||B+||5 penalties for 40 yards. Not bad. Off the field conduct not as good. Can somebody get Calvin Barnett a Scooter?|
Offensive MVP: Josh Stewart (6 catches for 120 yards)
Defensive MVP: Alex Elkins (9 tackles and 3 were for a loss)
Offensive New-comer: Blake Jackson (finally joining the party: 94 yards receiving vs TCU)
Defensive New-comer: Lyndell Johnson
Overall, it was great game on the defensive side of the ball. The offense struggled at first but picked it up in the second half. The team showed me what I needed to see to convince me that we can beat KSU. The defense is rolling at the right time, and if Lunt can get back to where he was look for the upset this weekend.
October 30, 2012
Oklahoma State currently sits at 84th in the country for fewest penalized yards per game at 62.57. As I argued earlier, the penalty-fest at Arizona should be viewed as an outlier to be discarded. When the UA game is excluded from the stats, OSU jumps 45 spots to #39 - with an average of 45.17 penalty yards per game.
October 30, 2012
Oklahoma State notched two INTs against TCU last Saturday - providing the Cowboys with a rare +1 turnover margin. Both picks were by safeties - and a third pick was dropped (!!) by a LB. The preseason All-Big 12 cornerback tandem of Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown have been conspicuously absent from the turnover statistics to date. Gilbert picked off each of the best QBs he faced last year, and this week's test against KSU and Colin Klein is the perfect time to get on the board. The following video is hereby entered into evidence against any quarterback remaining on the schedule with NFL aspirations. Gilbert and Brown are due. Klein beware.
October 25, 2012
It's halftime. Coaches across the Big 12 are huddled together discussing what they can do to win the remaining games in the second half.
It's halftime in Cowboy country, too. Our players are banged up and they're hurting. We're all wondering who might come back. And we're all concerned, because the season hasn't gone as planned.
The Cowboy faithful know a little something about this. They almost lost the program once. Our starters have been sidelined by injury before. But T. Boone and Gundy pulled us all together, and now, Oklahoma State is fighting again.
We've seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in seasons past. And, times when we didn't understand each other. It seems like we've lost our heart at times. When the fog of division, discord, and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead.
But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right, and acted as one. Because that's what we do. We find a way through tough times, and if we can't find a way, then we'll make one.
All that matters now is what's ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And, how do we win?
J.W. Walsh showed us it can be done. And, what's true about him is true about our entire team.
The Cowboys can't be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our crowd.
Yeah, it's halftime Stillwater. And, our second half is about to begin.
October 23, 2012
If we were writing a biography of the 2012 football season what would it say up to this point? Would each chapter fluctuate between optimism and negativity with same magnitude as the fan-base? Despite being 6 games into the season the team's identity is still unknown. In the past, I usually have a pretty good pulse on the team 6 games into the season, but this year I can honestly say I know more about the Kansas State Wildcats than I do my own team.
Two games this year I could not tell with certainty who was the starting quarterback. At the end of four games I felt the defense was good enough to win the Big 12, but there were two games I did not think the defense could get us to a bowl game. At the beginning of the season I believed our defensive line was going to be the unit holding us back. Now, I cannot say if the secondary is overrated, poorly coached or just hitting their stride.
In a league that fluctuates more than presidential election polls, I take no shame in admitting I have no clue what is going, but there are some things that I know for sure.
Joseph Randle is the best running back in the league and you could argue he is the best running back since Barry. I have kept an eye on his stats and many have laughed when I say there is a good chance Randle will become the all-time leading rusher at OSU. Randle only needs to average 108.2 yards a game to surpass Thurman Thomas, and of the remaining opponents Randle will be facing teams that give up an average 128.5 yards a game. Will he have the greatest career Stillwater has ever seen, maybe not, but you heard it here first.
Monken is the best offensive coordinator in the nation. Last year many credited his success to Weeden and Blackmon, but this year Monken has proven why he is among the best. There is no other offensive coordinator that began the year with a true freshman starting QB and a redshirt freshman back up and still put up these numbers. Not to mention Monken has not had the same QB start more than half of the games. The offense is 4th in points per game, 7th in passing yards per game, and 8th in rushing yards per game. Could it get any more balanced?
Wickline continues to be the best offensive line coach in the league. This isn't a shocking statement, but considering the players he lost it would make sense that offensive line production would drop. There are 13 players in the Big 12 averaging over 5.8 yards per carry with at least 10 carries and Osu has four of them. Currently OSU allows a sack on 1.3% of drop backs, which ranks 3rd in the nation.
Bill Young misses Markelle Martin. Martin's production on the field is no question missed, but his ability to get the secondary lined up is what the defense is missing most. The new safeties that have replaced Martin have showed flashes of talent, but the failure to line up properly has been a glaring problem. Re-watch the Arizona and Texas game.
Which leads us to the ultimate question, why is OSU 4-2 and not ranked in the top 25? I don't have the ultimate answer, but rather a combination of theories.
Scheduling: To this point it has still felt like the season has yet to start. We started off with a complete waste of game against Savannah State. Then we head to Arizona for a late night pacific coast game which didn't end till midnight. Throw in two bye weeks and a 6 hour long game at Kansas, OSU has yet to really get rolling. It is extremely hard to build momentum and stay on task when a team is asked to start and stop like they have been (especially for a young team). Momentum is extremely important in college football. The two bye weeks, a "throw-away" opener, a late night game in Arizona (a team you have beaten 3 times in 2 years), and a marathon game against the worst team in the league has left fans and players wanting more.
Injuries/turnovers: These two categories are combined because luck is a large element of both. Looking at past history, injuries and turnovers fluctuate and tend to balance out over the long haul. Last year, OSU was very lucky in both aspects. However, this year OSU has not received any lucky bounces and while being devastated by injuries. OSU is one call away from being 5-1 and likely ranked in the top 15.
So how bad is the defense? I would argue not as bad as we thought. The defense has pitched 13 shutout quarters of the 24 played. They allow 3.39 yards per carry, and 6.24 yards per pass attempt (4th and 3rd best in the conference respectively.) Take out one game at Arizona without Bill Young and 5-7 plays where we failed to get lined up and our defense looks pretty good.
So what should we expect of the remaining season? Fans will see a team that has made strides, and the fan base should have full faith in Gundy's ability to improve. I cannot say for sure that we will win the Big 12 or that we will fail to make a bowl. It is not crazy to think the team could be 8-2 going into Norman. Yes, that would include beating Kansas State but there is more on that to come.
Over the next month we should finally have and understanding of the teams identity. Excitement can finally begin to build, and hopefully our fans are biting at the bit to get "The Boone" rocking with relevant games and pm kickoffs.
October 22, 2012
|Quarterbacks||A||It is hard to knock the play thus far, but interceptions at Arizona and Texas hurt.|
|Offensive Line||A+||Cannot do much more. Top ten in rushing, and ranked 1st in big 12 in sacks allowed.|
|Running Backs||A-||Very impressive. But one important game changing fumble at Arizona led to an A-.|
|Wide Receivers||B-||Some dropped balls early and failure to have a true deep threat still leaves questions. Injuries have affected the output. Blake Jackson needs to step up.|
|Coaching||A-||Would be an A+ but the lack of clock management and the called run on 3 and 7 vs. Texas earned them an A-. Hard to argue with what they have done with the QB's.|
|Cornerbacks||C-||Have left WR running wide open at times. Failed to make plays on jump balls. A back up DE has more interceptions than starting CB's. Brown has more sacks than interceptions.|
|Safeties||C||Good tacklers. Have failed to consistently line up properly . Showing improvement, but need more big hits and turnovers.|
|Linebackers||B||Average, need to see more turnovers and tackles for losses. Done well stopping the run, but have not gotten to the QB.|
|Defensive Line||B+||Played well on the interior line, been good at stopping the rush. Need to see more sacks and QB pressure. Defensive ends need to make more plays.|
|Coaching||B||Minus two games coaching has been good. The inability to get the secondary lined up has been evident. Third down calls have been suspect, and the blitz packages have not been fantastic. Still need more turnovers.|
|Punting/Kickoffs||A-||Sharp has been as expected, fantastic. The kick return against Texas is the only flaw, but still 2nd in the nation in net punting yards.|
|Punt Return||B+||Average 10 yards a return. Sixth in conference, but have had no turnovers. Not as important with an explosive offensive.|
|Kick Return||B||Based on potential, have yet to really impress. Ranked 25th nationally and 4th in the Big 12. Still has the potential to break one big.|
|Field Goal||C+||Sharp is been excellent elsewhere. But he is only hitting 66% of his FG's. Would like to see some improvement on his long range accuracy.|
|Coaching||B+||The Texas Kick Return was game changing. The team was prepared to stop a fake kick at Kansas, but still would like to see more block attempts.|
|Conduct||B||Not many major off the field issues since the season started. Penalties in the Arizona game hurt , but has improved.|
Offensive MVP: J.W. Walsh (He is limited to what he can do physically, but could not have asked more from him. He is a true competitor.)
Defensive MVP: Shaun Lewis (Leads the team in sacks and tackles for losses)
Offensive New-comer: Josh Stewart
Defensive New-comer: Calvin Barnett
There are several areas of improvement that need to be made, but overall the team is still in line to win the league. If Lunt can comeback as strong as he left, and if the defense can gain some momentum the team will able to get rolling. Expect to see the team take off and meet the expectations fans set at the beginning of the year.
October 13, 2012
A few hours ahead of kickoff, the question still remains; who will quarterback the Cowboys when they take on the Kansas Jayhawks?
That has remained a closely-guarded secret. I can't tell you with certainty which OSU freshman QB will be the starter. What I can do is run down the decision-making process.
Wes Lunt has been sidelined since going down very early in the Cowboys game with Louisiana on September 15th. There was an obvious knee injury. Photo and video evidence certainly seemed to show Lunt's left kneecap out of place (grotesquely so). He left the sidelines with the knee wrapped and iced. At the time, the casual observer never would have guessed there was an additional injury. As it turns out, Lunt also injured his ankle on the same leg. That came to light over a week later when Mike Gundy mentioned that a cast had recently been taken off and Lunt would transition to a walking boot. He never specifically said why, but the walking boot device is for foot/ankle injuries.
That - not the knee - has been the issue for Lunt against Texas and Kansas. He didn't dress for the Texas game, and was on the sidelines in the boot. The decision for Gundy and coordinator Todd Monken for the Kansas game would come down to a few things:
A) Medical clearance from doctors and training staff.
B) Even with technical clearance, there are additional factors. Can he perform at the high level expected? Is there any increased risk for re-injury?
A great example was in the 2010 season, when then-QB Brandon Weeden tore a tendon in the thumb on his throwing hand. The only option to fix the problem was surgery. However, if Weeden could throw un-impeded and deal with the pain, there was no increased risk for injury. Obviously, he played the rest of that season.
If Lunt is 90+% of full capacity and has zero extra risk of injury, he could be the guy today. Actually, let's change that "is" to "was," because those things needed to be true by last Wednesday at the latest. That's when Monken wanted to know who his starter would be.
The final factor is the circumstances. OSU is in the rare situation of having an extremely capable backup in J.W. Walsh. He's actually played the majority of three of OSU's four games. And the offense has kept humming right along. So, no reason to rush Lunt back there. Then you have the schedule. It's favorable. Gundy would never say this, but Kansas simply isn't very good. They are the type of team that a good team should beat even with a below-average QB. Walsh is nowhere in the vicinity of below-average. Once Lunt was ruled out for Texas, the schedule became very favorable to allowing him to return to "good as new" status. A bye week followed the loss to UT, ahead of facing the Jayhawks.
If Lunt does not play today, chances are that he was close to 100% but not all the way there and the decision was made to hold him out on hopes that he'll be there for Iowa State next weekend. Here's something to watch for this afternoon - if Walsh is the starter, is Lunt fully dressed for the game? If he is, that says a lot about his recovery status. Then again, if he's not dressed, that does not say that he's not close to 100%...it just means the decision was made that he would not enter the game under any circumstances.
As I said from the outset, I don't know with certainty which guy OSU will go with. Best guess? Walsh.