OSU’s defensive meltdown took root in missed tackles

OSU’s defensive meltdown took root in missed tackles

The Cowboys surrendered a slew of big passing plays in their worst defensive performance of the season.

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

| Nov 11, 2023, 11:48pm CST

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

Nov 11, 2023, 11:48pm CST

Mike Gundy was right to be worried about UCF’s offense. 

UCF entered Saturday as the nation’s No. 10 team in total offense and nobody back home in Stillwater is left wondering why. 

OSU surrendered 592 yards and a season-high in points to UCF, which rolled to a 45-3 victory over the Cowboys at FBC Mortgage Stadium. 

OSU defenders missed tackles, committed a penalty the Knights capitalized on, and allowed catches on passes that should have been contested. Those were just a few of the symptoms that resembled a team-wide hangover from OSU’s rousing 27-24 win over Oklahoma a week ago.

Gundy insisted that the Cowboys’ lackluster showing had more to do with poor play. 

“I just don’t think there was an emotional hangover,” Gundy said. “I think what I said earlier had more to do with the game than that.” 

Gundy was referencing all sorts of miscues that come in such a one-sided game, a fumble, interceptions, missed tackles, and penalties and failure to break up passes. The errors started early for the Cowboy defense. 

On the first play of the game, Dylan Smith’s hit arrived just late, failing to break up a 37-yard pass from UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee to receiver Xavier Townsend. 

It was symptomatic of the deep balls that UCF receivers won consistently Saturday.

Plumlee had six passes for more than 30 yards, one of which scored a touchdown. Plumlee finished the game 11-of-18 for 299 yards and three touchdowns. 

“They made some really good balls and had a good plan of attack — isolated some people, got some one-on-one situations,” OSU defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo said.  “(We) just didn’t do a good enough job of having a good enough plan to answer everything, how they were trying to do it.”

The Cowboys missed three tackles on that first UCF drive.

Smith charged at UCF running back Johnny Richardson at the OSU 27-yard line. Instead of tackling his intended target, Smith collided with Cowboy nose tackle Justin Kirkland.

On the next play, OSU defensive lineman Anthony Goodlow was unblocked on the right edge. He stood flat-footed, waiting for UCF running back RJ Harvey to make a move. Harvey accelerated by Goodlow, who managed to drape an arm on Harvey, who withstood the blow and ran 18 yards to the OSU 1. Harvey scored a touchdown three plays later and finished with 206 yards rushing.

OSU missed nine tackles against Cincinnati, but 17 last week against Oklahoma. It was an issue that cropped up again against the Knights. 

“On the 50/50 plays which are…where we have a chance to break a tackle or they have a chance to tackle us or vice versa I thought they made more 50/50 plays than us today,” Gundy said.

OSU safety Trey Rucker’s undisciplined blitz triggered the UCF touchdown that opened a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter. When Rucker crept forward, trying to time the snap, he wound up a yard offside when it arrived. Plumlee took advantage of the free play by throwing deep to receiver Kobe Hudson. 

Hudson adjusted to the underthrown pass and Black was unable to recover for a 75–yard UCF touchdown.

“The one offsides where they threw it up and the kid came back and got the ball, that happens sometimes,” Gundy said.

 

 

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Ben Hutchens and his twin brother Sam cover Oklahoma State for the Sellout Crowd. After a decade of living in the state, Ben finally feels justified in calling himself an Oklahoman. You can reach him at [email protected] and continue the dialogue @Ben_ Hutchens_ on social media.

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