Guerin Emig: Mike Gundy has coached OSU through past challenges. Perhaps we’ll see him do so again against K-State. If that feels like grasping based on what we’ve seen through four games, grasping is what we’re left with.
It feels like we’re grasping for positives related to Oklahoma State football. I’d start with the fact that for all of their faults, the Cowboys are 2-2 and facing a manageable schedule in a mediocre Big 12 Conference.
Here’s one related to OSU’s game against Kansas State Friday night: The last time the Cowboys played coming off a bye week, they won as 3-point underdogs at No. 16 Baylor Oct. 1, 2022. They prevailed 36-25 in part because their coaches showed us something.
OSU rushed for 166 yards against a Bears defense that came in allowing an average of 79. Braydon Johnson, Bryson Green and Brennan Presley made plays in the passing game. The Cowboys consistently sound defense, led by Xavier Benson’s career-high 10 tackles. Jaden Nixon opened the second half with a well-conceived, crisply-blocked 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
I went fishing for bye-week coaching impact at Mike Gundy’s press conference Monday, seeing as how OSU is coming off its latest off week. He didn’t bite, so I wrote that we’d better see it against K-State regardless of Gundy’s vagueness.
Maybe we will. Maybe Gundy’s staff will borrow from their year-old selves – the only different coach is defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo — and prepare their players like they prepared for Baylor.
Their personnel is more limited than it was in ‘22, but they still have Presley, Benson, Nixon and a few of the offensive linemen who stood up to Baylor’s hefty run defense. Anyway, with limited personnel comes greater emphasis on coaching.
Gundy has coached the Cowboys through past challenges, including the one at Baylor. Perhaps we’ll see him do so again against K-State.
If that feels like grasping based on what we’ve seen through four games, and what Gundy said Monday, grasping is what we’re left with.
A little more on OSU-KSU…
One player: Cowboys receiver De’Zhuan Stribling
K-State’s two worst FBS statistics are on defense – No. 113 in passing yards allowed and tied for last in red zone defense. Offenses are 7-for-7 scoring when they cross the Wildcats’ 20-yard line.
Just so happens OSU is 11-for-11 scoring inside the 20, one of seven FBS teams with a perfect record. Feels like it’s inevitable that the Cowboys score Friday night… provided they put themselves in position to do so.
That’s where K-State’s pass defense comes in.
Missouri receiver Luther Burden had 7 catches for 114 yards and 2 TDs in a 30-27 win over the Wildcats Sept. 16. UCF receiver Kobe Hudson had 5 catches for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 44-31 loss at K-State Sept. 23.
OSU quarterback Alan Bowman needs to target Stribling, with his team-leading 14.1-yard reception average, to move the ball on K-State. If the Wildcats’ previous two games, and only ones against Power Five opponents, are any indication, Stribling will be available.
One problem: Kansas State running back DJ Giddens
The one time OSU defended an above-average running back was La’Damian Webb of South Alabama Sept. 16. Webb carried 18 times for 151 yards.
Check out Giddens’ line against UCF: 30 carries, 207 yards, 4 touchdowns… plus 8 catches for another 86 yards. The only K-State running back to ever stuff a stat sheet in one game like that was a fella named Darren Sproles.
That tells us Giddens is well above average.
K-State has a quarterback advantage Friday because of fourth-year starter Will Howard. I didn’t figure K-State to have the edge at running back, especially with Ollie Gordon coming off his 121-yard effort at Iowa State Sept. 23, until I saw what Giddens did to UCF.
K-State has the edge at running back.
One preposterous prediction: So long, Coach Klieman. Hello, Coach Klein.
Michigan State needs a head coach. Based on USA Today’s updated salary base, Michigan State can pay pretty much whatever it wants for a head coach (Mel Tucker, the fired coach, was making north of $10 million).
K-State coach Chris Klieman, according to USA Today, is making $4.75 million. That’s $1 million less than Kansas coach Lance Leipold.
Klieman signed an eight-year extension last May. Maybe he signs another after this season, but what if the Wildcats lose to KU for the first time since 2008 Nov. 18? I’m not sure there will be such a rush then.
KU upsets K-State. The Wildcats slow-play another extension. Michigan State swoops in and nearly doubles Klieman’s salary.
And K-State promotes offensive coordinator Collin Klein to head coach.
One pick: Cats 36, Pokes 29