I’d say we played our worst game, and we still had an opportunity to win it at the end. Blocked punts, missed chances in the red zone, and injuries wound up being too much to overcome. I’d blame the sputtering offense on Coutee being knocked out, but I’m not entirely sure that was the case. Oklahoma State regularly overwhelmed our offensive line and we never could get a push up front in the run game. I’ll get into specific players below, but this one doesn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would. At the end of the day, this game was played with house money and absolutely nobody expected us to start 4-0, so 3-1 is nothing to be upset over.
Let’s dive into specifics on players now.
Nik Shimonek - That interception after the recovered onside was UGLY. His pass to Batson on 3rd and Goal also was high, and cost us a touchdown. I’ll credit his leadership, and his lack of getting down after a truly horrendous start on offense. I’m still optimistic on how his season will shake out.
The Running Backs - Well, I wouldn’t say any of them stood out if we’re being honest. Desmond Nisby got stood up and dominated on several occasions. I did feel like Stockton ran very hard, but he doesn’t have the elusiveness to run between the tackles - shocker though, we all knew that. Tre King also didn’t step up much when given his opportunities.
Derrick Willies - This guy is a pass interference machine for defensive backs, but he also is a drop factory. It’s brutal to see him get that great separation and then drop a dime of a ball. We really need him to show up more if Coutee is going to be out for an extended period of time.
Keke Coutee - He’s the straw that stirs the drink on offense. After getting nailed on a “medicine” ball by Shimonek he didn’t return to the game. I’m wondering what his status will be next week, because I worry we can’t be short Coutee for an extended period of time. He’s that good.
Cameron Batson - He made several huge plays, but was on the cusp of being the star of the game. I love this guy for so many reasons, and I wish he could’ve made those extra few catches and maybe this article would be a bit more fun to write.
The Pass Rush - I’ll credit Rudolph for literally stiff-arming away 50% of the pass rushers that came within his zone. He’s pretty special with his ability to keep his eyes downfield, while also keeping defenders off him. We did wind up with a few sacks though, and I feel like this bunch will have success in a few games this fall for sure. I’d love to challenge Rusty Whitt to also make Broderick Washington a tiny bit faster - because when that day comes he’ll be scary.
Kolin Hill - He probably played his best game as a Red Raider. I think he’s earned his way on the field as a solid LB/DL-type. His fits in the run game were huge on more than one occasion, and it’s worth pointing out.
DeMarcus Fields - This kid goes from, “who is that?” last week - to, pick-6ing a telegraphed play that likely saved this game from being a blowout. I thought he played an outstanding game, and he’s got a very bright future in front of him. I believe he also had zero passes completed on him in the 2nd half via James Washington. (that 3rd down snag was zone coverage).
Octavious Morgan - I feel so bad for him, because he’s almost always in the right place to make a play. Yet, somehow, he gets posterized time and time again by truly epic/special snags. That catch by Marcel Ateman was clearly the play of the game, and the definition of a 50/50 ball. I won’t fault Morgan there one bit.
Michael Barden - He didn’t miss a kick, he had that great onside, and didn’t do any kickoffs out of bounds. After the roller coaster of last week, this was refreshing for sure.
Coaching - I’ll admit that Kingsbury was outclassed on offense in the first half, there’s no doubt about that. I did like his adjustments later on, but we have got to start the games better if we’re gonna beat teams like Oklahoma State. Now, on the other side of the ball, I thought Coach Gibbs did everything within his power to keep us in this one. Rudolph delivered some serious haymakers and outside of Baker Mayfield - we’re not gonna see a better signal caller this year. I’d even throw the yards out the window, because the defense’s play in the red zone was spectacular.
Negatives - I don’t think typing out the negatives will do much, but when you lose, there are always small reasons that form the big reason for a loss. Punting was horrendous, and if our defense hadn’t of bailed us out after that blocked punt and hold OSU to a field goal there, then this game isn’t as close. The refs had several questionable calls, namely that phantom pass interference on Fields against Washington. We got flat screwed over on that call. Equally, I think Stockton scored that touchdown, and it was as questionable as the 1st Down that Ateman got in the first half, upon further review. So, that didn’t feel too fair. The offensive line was dominated on more than one occasion, but I think that had more to do Shimonek holding onto the ball too long.
No matter how you want to look at it, we didn’t play well enough to win. Had we won, I’d have wondered aloud how it happened to be honest. Your offense didn’t even have 400 yards, your defense gave up over 600 yards, your best player got hurt, and you didn’t have a wide margin in the turnover margin - despite all the stats going against you - you did better than what Vegas expected and we absolutely expected to win after the final missed field goal. I’ll chose to not get down after this one, and we’ll look onto Kansas next week. That game has hangover written all over it, so I hope we come to play.