STILLWATER — Mike Gundy entered OSU’s interview room no more than 10 minutes after the Bedlam clock hit zero on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn soon followed.
That’s 10 minutes for the obligatory handshake in midfield, leaving the field, gathering the squad in the dressing room, and switching to psychologist mode to find the right words for a defeated soccer team.
and quietGundy and Dunn had time to share a quick recap of the Cowboys’ 28-13 loss to OU.
“We have to get this running game going,” Dunn told reporters. “Coach and I were just talking about this. It doesn’t click.”
The same goes for the overall OSU offense.
The 7-4 Cowboys’ disappointing regular season ends Saturday against West Virginia, and the unsatisfactory nature of this 2022 season lies at the offense’s feet. Who saw this coming?
With Spencer Sanders returning as quarterback and most of the stars of 2021’s great OSU defense having moved to other ports, offense should carry the cargo for this team. That didn’t happen.
More:How to remember OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders? His trainer says as “a gladiator”
The Cowboy defense had its moments of meltdown, but remained competitive for the most part. OSU currently ranks fifth in defensive efficiency of the Big 12. Cowboy opponents have an offensive efficiency rating of .313, which means less than a touchdown every three possessions.
Gundy would have cartwheeled in September had he known his defense would ultimately be mid-table at the conference. OU and Texas combined for 37 full possessions against the Cowboys, producing eight touchdowns and two field goals. This is championship defense.
But Gundy’s offense went splat, and frankly, it’s been on a non-linear decline for several years. ninth in offensive efficiency in the Big 12 (.315) in 2019; ninth this season (.255).
You can’t last long in the Big 12 if you average a touchdown every four possessions.
And Gundy knows that.
“I have a lot of notes in my office,” Gundy said. “There are a few things we might need to do differently than what we’ve been doing schematically for the past 15 years, but not much.”
Wondering if that means a change in coaching staff? Gundy never fired his offensive coordinator, except himself after the 2009 season, but Sean Gleeson left after one season, 2019 to return to New Jersey (he came from Princeton, went to Rutgers), and maybe that was the Gundy/Gleeson net not great.
But the offensive line coach has been a revolving door for almost a decade since Joe Wickline left after the 2013 season. Bob Connelly in 2014. Greg Adkins in 2015-16. Josh Henson 2017-18. Charlie Dickey since 2019. Everyone loves Dickey, but the offensive line doesn’t work.
Gundy showed no cards that indicated a change in the coaching staff. But he spoke about the Cowboys’ shortcomings.
More:“We take it personally”: This is how the Oklahoma state offensive line wants to close strongly
“As we know, most offenses will live and die with your quarterback,” Gundy said. “And second, they’re going to live and die with a gamebreaker at wideout and running back.”
Gundy said a dominant O-line isn’t necessary in Stillwater.
“If your linemen are covering the guys and they’re fighting and they’re going to be tough guys and you’ve got a quarterback that can play and you’ve got a skill kid and a running back, then you’re going to have good offensive numbers,” Gündy said. “We didn’t have that luxury all year round outside (at the receiver) and also in the backfield. That’s one of the contributing factors.”
Sanders was a dynamic quarterback. He makes his share of mistakes, but he’s a playmaker who will be sorely missed if he chooses not to capitalize on his 2023 super senior season. Sanders was a plus, not a minus.
But the Cowboys didn’t have their traditional game breakers stuck in traffic or at the split end. No Chuba Hubbard or Jaylen Warren or Justice Hill. No Tylan Wallace or James Washington or Justin Blackmon.
Are there stars on the horizon? Jaden Nixon or Ollie Gordon stuck in traffic? Bryson Green or Stephon Johnson Jr. at the flanker? Does Brennan Presley count?
More:Oklahoma State Football Recap: Top Players, Bowl Odds & Redshirt Tracker
“Schematically we can do a few things differently, but we don’t have to do much,” Gundy said. “And we definitely don’t want to panic. We have to get back into the flow.
“It’s been a few years now that we just haven’t been able to get it together to this point. And then we go to the Fiesta Bowl (last season) and we run 600 yards offense at Notre Dame. It was a little inconsistent, to say the least, even for me. But we have some answers, yes. Stay tuned for November next year.”
November 2023? What the hell does that mean? Gundy cannot predict a breakthrough in November. It’s too late for a strong 2023 season. He must think everything will be fine next year. So why the optimism? Where does this help come from?
West Virginia and the bowl game against a state from Arkansas, North Carolina or Mississippi would provide momentum for 2023. Of course, the Cowboys burned Notre Dame in the desert last January, and that didn’t carry over to 2022. when the defenses finally gained a foothold but had no offense to carry the cargo.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected] He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio station, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
OSU vs. West Virginia
KICKING OFF: 11 a.m. Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater (ESPN2)
More:Tramel’s ScissorTales: Big 12 Football parity shows the participants in the title game