Sellout’s hot takes on Gunnar Gundy’s rescue act and OSU’s shaky 27-13 win

Sellout’s hot takes on Gunnar Gundy’s rescue act and OSU’s shaky 27-13 win

The coach's son and Oklahoma State's third quarterback of the night helped the Cowboys avert disaster.

Mike Sherman

By Mike Sherman

| Sep 2, 2023, 9:52pm CDT

Mike Sherman

By Mike Sherman

Sep 2, 2023, 9:52pm CDT

It’s a good thing Mike Gundy finally got around to playing his son Saturday night in Stillwater.

Gunnar Gundy, Oklahoma State’s third quarterback of the night, helped save the Cowboys from utter disaster, leading a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives as the Cowboys beat lowly Central Arkansas, 27-13, at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Here is the Sellout Crowd’s Oklahoma State coverage team’s take on OSU’s opener.

A rout that never materialized

Jenni Carlson, (jenni-carlson.com): The expected domination of FCS Central Arkansas never materialized for Oklahoma State.

Instead, an utter catastrophe had to be averted.

Cause for concern?

How could it not be?

But as with most things, it wasn’t all bad (or all good; then again, you knew that) for the Cowboys.

Three things that stood out to me:

The quarterback derby actually does look close. All fall, Cowboy coach Mike Gundy told us the quarterback battle was too close to call. Some of us (myself included) figured that was probably coach talk, that Alan Bowman would be the guy. But Bowman, Garret Rangel and Gunnar Gundy all had their moments. (Who saw the crunch-time minutes coming for the younger Gundy?) I still think the starting job will come down to Rangel or Bowman, but man, Gundy played well when it mattered most.

The oft-discussed offensive line improvement seems suspect. The Cowboy line allowed one sack, but OSU quarterbacks were rushed four times and Cowboy ballcarriers were hemmed in. Central Arkansas had four tackles for loss. I’m not suggesting those numbers should’ve been zero, but OSU should’ve dominated the line of scrimmage against an FCS defensive line. That didn’t happen. That is troubling.

The Cowboys’ tackling was abysmal. Now, it’s possible with new defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo installing his 3-3-5 system, the Cowboys haven’t taken ballcarriers to the ground much during practice. But regardless, OSU missed a lot of tackles Saturday night. On one play alone late in the first half, I counted three. That shouldn’t happen against any team. But against an FCS one? Yikes. I suspect opponents will only get faster and shiftier from here.

I will not overreact. I will not overreact. I will not overreact

Guerin Emig (guerinemig.com): I tweeted that I would not overreact to Oklahoma’s ridiculously fast start against Arkansas State earlier Saturday. I promised on the way out of postgame interviews I wouldn’t do so even after OU had hung a 73-point win on the Red Wolves.Fair being fair, I won’t overreact to Oklahoma State’s survival of Central Arkansas Saturday night.

I won’t overreact to the fact that Mike Gundy’s most effective quarterback was the third one he tried, leaving us to wonder about Alan Bowman and Garret Rangel.

I won’t overreact to the fact that Central Arkansas, FCS Central Arkansas, won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball more often than OSU did.

And I won’t overreact to the fact that as much as Gunnar Gundy, his dad’s third choice at QB, did to rescue the Cowboys, the Cowboys’ opponent did even more. With competent special teams and a cleaner penalties sheet, UCA would have been ahead by the time Gunnar Gundy stepped on the field. Then he would have had to lead a come-from-behind victory, not salt a close game away.

Mike Gundy has patched holes in past teams as big as the ones so apparent at Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday night. He won’t go into panic mode two days into September.

But if the OSU team that played UCA is the one that shows up at Arizona State next Saturday, it will be nearer time for Gundy, his fan base, his press corps and anyone else concerned to arrive at a disturbing reality: Nobody overreacted by what they saw in the season opener.

The reality will be that the Cowboys aren’t very good.

Gundy has Gundy to thank

Berry Tramel, (berrytramel.com): Gunnar Gundy did his old man a solid. Funny. You always figured it was the other way around.

Mike Gundy told us he would play multiple quarterbacks, and danged if it wasn’t the truth. The final of three OSU quarterbacks to play was his own son, and Gunnar Gundy delivered. He took the Cowboys on two long touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, 93 and 78 yards, giving OSU enough breathing room.

Sometimes coaches tell you the truth. Who knew?

Alan Bowman was the expected starter. Instead, Garrett Rangel started and played OK. Nothing special. Bowman played next and was OK. Nothing special. Finally, with the Cowboys clinging to a 13-7 lead against the Division I-AA Bears, Gundy went to Gundy. And the coach’s kid delivered. He completed seven of nine passes for 106 yards.

Now we wait to see who starts next week at Arizona State. If it’s based on performance, it’s the left-hander who grew up in Gundy’s house. Or maybe Mike Gundy just moves everyone up. Bowman gets the start, Gunnar next, then Rangel.

Yes, it’s ridiculous that OSU was in a fourth quarter tug o’ war with Central Arkansas, and the Cowboys have a ton of things to correct or to improve. The defense gave up just 13 points but gave up too many big plays at inopportune times; a rash of UCA penalties bailed out the OSU defense in the first half. And the Cowboys didn’t run the ball well in the first half, though the ground got going in the second half.

Still, the focus will be on the quarterbacks. Bowman really didn’t make many plays. Rangel made a few but didn’t distinguish himself. Then Gunnar Gundy showed up and showed out. This Cowboy season just got a lot more alarming – and a lot more interesting.

\
Flat start. Good thing Central Arkansas was gassed

Todd Lisenbee (toddlisenbee.com):

The Cowboys survived a scrappy Central Arkansas upset attempt. A win is a win is a win, but if any Oklahoma State fans left Boone Pickens Stadium happy about what they saw tonight, they did so with the help of either way too much alcohol or way too much legal cannabis.

By no means does this mean the season is over, but today was about as flat of a start as the Cowboys could offer.

Positives

Special teams: In a first half where the UCA defense was causing problems, the Cowboys executed on special teams while the Bears wasted chances to score.

Gunnar Gundy?: I think we all scratched our heads a little when he entered the game, but he performed well aside from the first three and out. I think a lot of it has to do with Central Arkansas being gassed, but he certainly didn’t cost himself any playing time tonight.

Negatives

Offensive line: The Cowboys consistently lost 1-on-1 battles all night long and looked slow and flat-footed until UCA ran out of gas.

Run defense: It’s always a hot topic when a team runs on a 3-3-5 defense, and I’m sure Oklahoma State will settle in, but there were way too many chunk runs for the Bears.

QB situation is as tangled as advertised

Sam Hutchens (hutchenstwins.com)

Mike Gundy wasn’t kidding about this whole starting QB situation. Now that the players have reps broadcasted for the world to see, it remains hard to distinguish which player should be the starter. Heck, if this game was the sole stage for the trio to be whittled to one, it would be hard not to give Gunnar Gundy the nod. He orchestrated fourth-quarter TD drives of 93 and 78 yards to secure the win. He may have gone from afterthought to frontrunner.

A couple OF other things that stood out:

Remember coach Gundy’s magic number of 4.5? The Cowboys averaged 3.4 yards a carry last year. Gundy is quick to point to rushing inefficiency as a cause for the 2022 offensive struggles, and emphasized the importance of getting closer to 4.5 yards. Ollie Gordon looked like the guy to achieve that. Gordon (seven carries for 44 yards) was OSU’s most efficient back Saturday. After getting just two carries in the first half, he had gains of 15 and 17 yards to jump-start late TD drives. With the offensive line struggling to open holes consistently, he came up big.

OSU needs to be better in all facets to get through nonconference play unscathed. But it starts with discipline. It only gets harder from here. OSU plays an away game next week against ASU. Penalties lose road games and the Cowboys certainly triggered a fair amount of flags against the Bears. 

Special teams help OSU avert disaster; win spawns more questions than answers

Ben Hutchens (hutchenstwins.com)

Yeah, quarterback Gunnar Gundy was great, but special teams are the reason OSU won.

OSU’s leading scorer was kicker Alex Hale, who went 2-for-2 on field goals from 36 and 45 yards and added three extra points. 

Cowboy corner Korie Black blocked two UCA field goals. The first time, Black streamed untouched around the edge for a Superman-style block on a 46-yard attempt. Instead of changing something when lining up another 46-yarder in the third quarter, the Bears again left Black unblocked. He tipped the ball, resulting in a low dribbler that never left the turf

Hale’s made field goals and Black’s blocks create a 12-point special teams swing. OSU won by 14.

Gundy saved the day, leading two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Does that mean he earns the start next week against Arizona State? After one game, I have more quarterback questions than I did before.

Share with your crowd
Mike Sherman is the director of content for Sellout Crowd. He spent the majority of his 39 years in journalism at The Oklahoman, first as a sportswriter and then as the sports editor. His staff routinely produced award-winning coverage of the Sooners, Cowboys, Thunder, high school sports and major events. Mike is a past president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. His career includes tenures as the sports editor with the Tampa Bay Times and Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch, an assistant city editor with The Tennessean in Nashville and a reporter for the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa. More recently, he spent three years as executive editor for Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit investigative news organization in Oklahoma City. Mike and his wife, Cathleen, live in Edmond, Oklahoma, where they raised four children. Email Mike at mikesherman@selloutcrowd. Follow him at @MikeSherman on X/Twitter.

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; The Oklahoma City Thunder bench watch the final minute of their game against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Does OKC need more Aaron Wiggins?

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder fans cheer as their team scores against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Thunder-Mavericks: Why these playoffs might spawn a new OKC rival

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket beside Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    OKC fans chanted ‘Luka sucks,’ but Doncic’s play said otherwise

  • Tailgating on The Grove on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Ms., on Saturday September 15, 2018.

Pre309

    OU’s move to the SEC: Listing the things to look foward to

  • Ireland travelblog: Farewell to the Emerald Isle, which keep Americans coming

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; The Oklahoma City Thunder bench watch the final minute of their game against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Does OKC need more Aaron Wiggins?

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder fans cheer as their team scores against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Thunder-Mavericks: Why these playoffs might spawn a new OKC rival

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket beside Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    OKC fans chanted ‘Luka sucks,’ but Doncic’s play said otherwise

  • Tailgating on The Grove on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Ms., on Saturday September 15, 2018.

Pre309

    OU’s move to the SEC: Listing the things to look foward to

  • Ireland travelblog: Farewell to the Emerald Isle, which keep Americans coming