Did you play receiver in high school and currently live near Stillwater, Oklahoma? If so you might want to show up at Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday afternoon. There’s a chance you’d make it into a Cowboys uniform.
Mike Gundy’s squad is in a bad way at wideout. According to the head coach, by the end of the game Saturday night the team had more pass catchers on the injured list than they had scholarship wideouts to throw the ball to. That’s how a redshirt freshmen walk-on named Cale Cabiness ended up becoming a hero by catching a contested fade pass for 24 yards. Not only was it his first catch ever, it gave the Cowboys a first down that allowed them to run out the clock and escape the blue-turfed Hell they had found themselves in on Saturday night in a 21-20 win over Boise State.
As great a moment as Cabiness’ play was (The dude is the grandson of ex-Sooner basketball coach Billy Tubbs; you can’t make up stuff that good!), for the Cowboys’ sake they better hope he never has to catch another pass. They need their top receivers back in a bad way.
Oklahoma State escaped Boise with a win by playing bully-ball. They ran the ball 55 times. After not being able run at all the first two games they ran the ball successfully, despite the Broncos knowing they were going to. The offense nursed a one-point lead and bled the clock after halftime as the defense clamped down after getting pushed around for most of the first half. It was the strategy Mike Gundy and OC Kasey Dunn came up with during the week out of necessity due to the depleted roster. Luckily for them, it worked.
The passing game was just nonexistent. Boise took away the one receiver whose name they knew, Brennan Presley, and then almost killed him with a hit on a reverse. Rashod Owens had two catches for 34 yards that both kept drives alive, but he also dropped a well-thrown slant pass that highlighted the inconsistency that forced the ground and pound strategy.
The problem is the games the Cowboys can win playing that way are over. It’s time for conference play. The Cowboys defense is good, but it’s not holding a Big 12 team to 64 yards in the second half (with just three in the third quarter) like they did Boise State. Maybe the hapless Jayhawks could be vanquished that way but not the other Kansas team, the Wildcats from Manhattan, who are up next on the schedule.
The Cowboys got lucky in up in Idaho, plain and simple. They only managed one true, sustained scoring drive. The other 14 points came on one 75 yard scamper by Jaylen Warren and the other was on a short field gifted by a forced fumble right before the half. Even with those two fortunate occurrences it took an early whistle on a fumble that negated a Bronco touchdown return followed by a blocked kick to preserve the win.
The defense for the Pokes has been great so far, Malcolm Rodriguez may end up being an All-American, but the sledding is going to get tougher fast. The Spencer Rattler’s and Bijan Robinson’s and Erik Ezukanma’s of the world are still ahead. Lincoln Riley and Matt Campbell lead squads that aren’t going to be held scoreless for the final 34 minutes of the game.
Mike Gundy and Kasey Dunn have to find a way to score points. HAVE TO. They need to show why they deserve all that money they are paid. The jury is still out on Dunn as a play caller, but there’s no denying he has been a wide receiver whisperer his whole career in Stillwater. It may be time to stop whispering and up the volume in hopes of getting his suddenly green group of flankers ready to go. If one of those guys is his next hidden gem, the next Tylan Wallace or James Washington or Josh Stewart or Justin Blackmon, they need to start showing flashes of it soon. As frustrating as the Oklahoma State offense has been for Cowboy fans it may get far worse starting in the next week.
So I ask again: did you play wide receiver in high school? Or maybe tight end? Were you an outfielder in baseball, or maybe a half decent basketball player? If you are six feet tall, kind of fast, and have a history of catching some sort of ball you may want to shoot the OSU Athletic Department an email. And do it before Saturday.