What We Learned from Oklahoma State’s Season-Opening Win over Central Arkansas

Normally, it’s hard to quantify what we can learn when Oklahoma State faces an FCS opponent. But I think we learned a few things about the Cowboys on Saturday.

OSU came out on top in its season opener against Central Arkansas.

Which is good.

But the Cowboys struggled to stay ahead of the Bears for most of the game and didn’t create any separation until their third quarterback took over, eventually winning 27-13.

Which might not be so good.

I mean, it could be good or bad, depending on which side of the glass-half argument you tend to land, but it definitely gives us something to talk about.

The Run Game Isn’t Quite Fixed

With all the talk about focusing on the running game this offseason — the healthy O-line, the move away from the Cowboy back position, etc. — I think a lot of fans really wanted to see OSU line it up and run it down the throats of an FCS school.

But OSU mustered just 52 rushing yards over the first three quarters and was unable to distance itself from UCA, going into that final period up just six. The Pokes got things moving on the ground in the final quarter, but that sluggish start leaves a lot to be desired and some big questions that need answered.

Gunnar Can Run

The younger Gundy showed a lot of things on Saturday night, captaining a pair of scoring drives that put the Bears away. But the thing I think I learned the most was his ability to tuck it in and battle through a few defenders with his legs.

He rushed it twice against UCA, including a nice 16-yard play to move the chains.

Gundy showed off his wheels a time or two last season, but this is clearly something he brings to the table. Regardless of where he ends up in OSU’s quarterback pecking order, I like that he brings at least the threat to take off on his own.

The QB Battle was Tighter Than We Thought

Throughout fall camp, I just assumed that OSU a) had defined QB pecking order and b) that it started with Alan Bowman.

He’s, by far, the most experienced and accomplished of the group. The lack of an announcement was so Gundy could keep all three engaged (and in Stillwater), or to just prove that he didn’t have to tip his hand.

Although those both may be true, if you have a clear-cut QB1, you don’t split up the series like OSU did on Saturday. I’m game to wait and see how things unfold, but I’d be a lot more confident in the Pokes’ offense without musical chairs behind center.

The Defense Has Some Bugs to Work Out

Take how uncomfortable that was through the first three quarters and then think back to Central Arkansas’ first drive.

UCA had two early TDs called back by their own penalties on their first drive, in which they came up empty. Had they scored (as they should have), OSU would have been in a 7-0 hole. Do the Cowboys then going into the fourth quarter trailing instead of just up six?

The Cowboys have a lot of new faces, a new DC and were obviously playing pretty vanilla against an FCS opponent. Again, it’s very early so I’m still in the camp of letting things play out. But when you line your guys against their guys, and let them play, you’d hope to see a little more separation.