Oklahoma State football under Mike Gundy has never been afraid to sling the ball around every corner of the field. That was until this past Saturday night, when the Cowboy offense attempted 13 total passes and completed six for a grand total of 82 yards in a 21-20 win over Boise State.
OSU’s passing game was quite literally nonexistent for the majority of the win. 55 out of the 70 plays called by coordinator Kasey Dunn were run plays. After the Pokes finally found success on the ground with Jaylen Warren, the air attack was neglected in favor of a military school-style offensive philosophy that saw 18-straight run plays at one point in the game.
My question is, why is Oklahoma State so afraid to utilize its young receiving core? Sure, three of the four usual starting receivers, Tay Martin, Braydon Johnson and Jaden Bray were out with injuries (as well as Bryson Green, who left the game early with a hand injury), but it isn’t like OSU doesn’t have guys on the sideline who can step up in their place. Brennan Presley touched the ball twice all game. Rashod Owens showed he can get open and make chunk plays. We still haven’t even seen Blaine Green yet despite him suiting up and warming up in pregame.
It seems as if Gundy and Dunn seriously lack confidence in their dilapidated receiving core that they would rather hand the ball off to one running back 31 times in one game when they have four capable backs on the bench, instead of throwing the ball at all. Only three OSU receivers caught a pass on Saturday.
What is causing the sudden fear of passing? Does the coaching staff not trust the young players to run the plays? Is the offensive line so poor at pass protecting that throws are near impossible to get off? This was not as big of an issue in the Cowboys first two games, and I refuse to believe that Boise State, who ranks 89th in passing yards allowed, is just that elite at pass defense.
Then amazingly, OSU decided to ice the game with a 24-yard pass to Cale Cabbiness with under two minutes left in the fourth. After living and dying by the run all night, Kasey Dunn draws up a fifty-fifty fade route to a walk-on on 3rd & 7 to put the game away. 2021 is a weird year.
The Cowboys should be getting Martin, Bray and Bryson Green back this week against Kansas State, but I’m not sure how I feel about the game plan if those guys are ever unavailable again. If last weekend’s game is any indicator, completely going away from the passing game is not the way to go. You won’t be able to get away with only passing the ball 13 times now that conference play is starting up this weekend against Kansas State. You’ll start playing better defenses who will key in on the run, and once that stops working, what will you do?