Berry’s OSU report card: Quarterbacks don’t distinguish themselves vs. Arizona State

Berry’s OSU report card: Quarterbacks don’t distinguish themselves vs. Arizona State

Who among us can distinguish any real separation between any of the trio of Alan Bowman, Gunnar Gundy and Garret Rangel?

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Sep 10, 2023, 6:40am CDT

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Sep 10, 2023, 6:40am CDT

OSU’s 27-15 victory over Arizona State wasn’t a work of art, it was a work of perseverance. The Cowboys played somewhat poorly in the first half but much better in the second half.

The OSU report card reflects a tale-of-two-halves performance:

Quarterbacks: B. Maybe Mike Gundy deserves a little grace. After two games of OSU platooning three quarterbacks, who among us can distinguish any real separation between any of the trio of Alan Bowman, Gunnar Gundy and Garret Rangel? That’s the order of the quarterbacks’ appearance vs. Arizona State. Bowman got four possessions and 24 snaps; his time produced three punts and one touchdown. Gundy got four possessions and 21 snaps; his time produced a field goal and a touchdown. Rangel got three possessions and 18 snaps; his time produced a touchdown and a field goal. None made an apparent bad decision. None was victimized by a drop. Bowman completed 11 of 16 for 113 yards and clearly was the superior passer on this night. Rangel completed six of nine for 46 yards; Gundy completed five of seven for 32 yards. Both threw almost exclusively short. Gundy was peppered with blitzes and didn’t get out of them. You tell me who played the best.

Halftime adjustments: A. The OSU running game came alive in the second half. In the first half, the Cowboys used nine running plays, making 15 yards total. But OSU coaches changed some blocking angles, going to more of an inside zone, and it worked famously. The Cowboys gained 115 yards on 17 second-half running plays. Meanwhile, OSU’s defensive adjustments were equally vital – the Cowboys pitched a second-half shutout and held the Sun Devils to 105 total yards. Mike Gundy said OSU used more of a four-man front in the second half, which allowed Collin Oliver to play more on the edge and put pressure on ASU quarterback Jaden Rashada.

Tackling: C. For the second straight game, OSU tackled poorly in the first half. On the Sun Devils’ first-quarter touchdown drive, the Cowboys missed tackles on four of the final seven plays. Gundy said the Cowboys tackled much more in practice leading up to the ASU game, but that didn’t show up in the first half. The Sun Devils’ direct snaps to tailback Cam Skattebo, a transfer from Sacramento State, were particularly effective. But in the third quarter, OSU’s Collin Oliver and Justin Kirkland stuffed Skattego for no gain on a fourth-and-1 direct snap, setting up the Cowboys’ go-ahead touchdown drive.

Atmosphere: C. Mountain America Stadium, which you know as Sun Devil Stadium, is a venerable coliseum. Home to some epic Fiesta Bowls and Super Bowl 39. But ASU’s home was more mausoleum Saturday night. The stadium now seats 53,599, and attendance totaled about half that vs. OSU, despite an announced crowd of 42,569. The Sun Devil denizens were not late-arriving; they were never-arriving. However, ASU’s students turned out, mostly filling the south bleachers and giving the game what little atmosphere it had.

Kicking game: A. OSU’s kicking game was a huge plus for the Cowboys. Alex Hale nailed a 52-yard field goal, though he also was wide left on a 49-yard attempt. Hudson Kaak and Wes Pahl combined for five punts, three of which were downed inside the 20-yard line. And Pahl boomed a 54-yard punt, without a return, early in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys needed to flip field position. Brennan Presley also had a 13-yard punt return which helped set up a drive to a fourth-quarter field goal.

Short-yardage offense: C. Blocking has not gone well for the Cowboys through two games, though it improved in the second half of each outing. Against Arizona State, OSU faced 16 short-yardage situations (needing three yards or less for a first down) and converted nine. The Cowboys converted six of 11 running plays and three of five pass plays. Not bad. But not great. Or maybe even really good. Part of it’s not blocking – OSU had a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter but settled for a field goal after a delay-of-game penalty. That can’t happen.

Containing Rashada: B. ASU freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada might be a future star. But the Cowboys contained him rather well. Rashada completed 14 of 20 passes, but for just 121 yards, with an interception. OSU allowed Rashada to get free for a nine-yard scramble on a third-and-9 play in the second quarter, but that was the only damage done by his feet. OSU had a bust on Rashada’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Elijhah Badger, a deep ball in which Badger was left wide open down the middle.

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Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

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