STILLWATER — Mike Gundy’s Cowboys are 1-0 again, but the Pokes’ game against an FCS foe didn’t go as smoothly as some would have thought.
Oklahoma State beat Central Arkansas 27-13 on Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium. Here are five quotes from Gundy after the game. His full postgame news conference is below.
The Cowboys played three quarterbacks Saturday with each guiding the ship for four series.
Garret Rangel got the start before Alan Bowman and Gunnar Gundy came in. The trio combined to go 30-for-48 (63%) for 304 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Here is how each handled his four series:
Rangel: 10-for-15, 118 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 18 rushing yards
Bowman: 13-for-24, 80 yards, -2 rushing yards
Gundy: 7-for-9, 106 yards, 20 rushing yards
“To be fair to them, we told them that we’d play them X number of series and we rolled with it,” Gundy said. “I thought they played pretty good — 30-of-48, not bad. I thought they all played pretty good. Each one of them missed a throw or so or whatever, but they also all made some throws. So I thought they played pretty good.”
2. Level of Concern
When Central Arkansas scored to pull within 13-7 late in the third quarter, you could almost visibly see the flashbacks to last season loom over Boone Pickens Stadium.
The Cowboys powered through in the fourth quarter, taking a 20-point lead before a late Bear touchdown, but that still wasn’t the performance much of the OSU fanbase was expecting against an FCS foe. How concerned was Gundy?
“I mean, I always have concern,” Gundy said. “We’ve gotta get better. We need practice. We need to work as fast as we can to kind of identify who we are and try to move in that direction. I’m always concerned but not over the top. I felt like our defense could get some stops. I feel like we just need to rush the ball a little bit. Once we started running the ball, it felt a lot better.”
3. The Run Game
Speaking of that running game: through three quarters, the Cowboys were rushing for just 3.1 yards a pop. That’s somehow worse than the 3.4 yards per carry OSU ran for in 2022.
Things opened up in the fourth quarter, though, with OSU rushing for 6.9 yards a carry in the quarter, running for 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns. If the Cowboys can do that, the offense opens up a ton. Here is Gundy on early struggles and why his squad needs to run the ball better.
“Didn’t look like we had holes — anywhere to run,” Gundy said. “We went to a couple different things late in the game, and we had some space where guys could get out there and make plays and got better, but that’s gotta start in the first quarter. It’s gonna be difficult as the season goes on if we’re rushing for three yards a carry because then we could become one dimensional. So we have to continue to work at that.”
4. Cowboys’ Defense Stays “Vanilla” in Nardo’s Debut
Along with a three-way quarterback battle happening on offense, the Cowboys’ defense is implementing an entirely new scheme since the addition of Bryan Nardo this offseason.
Nardo’s 3-3-5 defense held Central Arkansas to 13 points, 391 yards of total offense and 4.4 yards a carry on the ground.
“I thought he did fine,” Gundy said. “Very calm and had answers for certain things. … We were pretty vanilla in this game. We wanted to just line up in a lot of base and let the guys play.”
5. Getting Presley the Ball
Brennan Presley got the ball in some unique ways Saturday.
He scored the season’s first touchdown after a complex bit of motion that saw him orbit around Garret Rangel in the backfield before catching a pass and scoring. Later in the game, he took a handoff from the backfield and ran five yards.
Among his catches, runs and kick returns, Presley led the team with 84 all-purpose yards.
“We can do a lot of things with him, and we need to do a lot of things with him,” Gundy said. “He’s one of those players when he touches the ball, most of the time good things happen. So we have to find ways for him to touch the ball, right? We have to be able to use his ability and let him touch the ball. He’s hard to get down in space. We have multiple ways to do that.”