Berry’s OSU report card: The worst in memory as UCF routs the Cowboys

Berry’s OSU report card: The worst in memory as UCF routs the Cowboys

Berry Tramel: When a head coach blames his own staff’s schemes for a horrible day, I suppose you must believe him. And that’s what Mike Gundy did. He said OSU was outcoached, and that clearly was the case.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Nov 12, 2023, 10:00am CST

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Nov 12, 2023, 10:00am CST

OSU’s 45-3 loss at Central Florida was not the Cowboys’ finest hour. OSU was dominated from start to finish. The best debate is whether the Cowboy offense or defense was worse. 

The OSU report card is the worst in memory, with three F’s, which are hard to come by. A three-F game is unfathomable. But here it is:

Deep-ball defense: F. On the first play of the game, UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee hit Xavier Townsend for a 37-yard gain off a deep ball. OSU’s young secondary didn’t so much as get burned as it got beaten, consistently. Plumlee launched seven deep balls; six were completed, for 257 yards. Twenty minutes into the game, four Knights had receptions of at least 37 yards. The Cowboys were in a position to defend most of those throws, they just didn’t make the play, while the likes of Kobe Hudson, Javon Baker and Townsend did.

Alan Bowman: D. The OSU quarterback was hot early. He completed his first seven passes, for 95 yards. But Bowman’s eighth pass was deflected by UCF’s Decorian Patterson and intercepted by Braeden Marshall. After those first seven completions, Bowman was 12 of 29 passes, with three interceptions, for 130 yards. UCF loaded the box to stop tailback Ollie Gordon, and unlike in Bedlam, Bowman didn’t make the Knights pay. A huge second-quarter rainstorm didn’t help. Bowman seemed to succumb to UCF’s increasing pass rush.

Gameplans: F. When a head coach blames his own staff’s schemes for a horrible day, I suppose you must believe him. And that’s what Mike Gundy did. He said OSU was outcoached, and that clearly was the case. UCF coach Gus Malzahn is a long-time offensive whiz, and Cowboy defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo was hard-pressed to answer Malzahn’s myriad offensive sets. And offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn, who had been on such a great roll in recent weeks, never found much of anything that worked, after OSU’s first two initial drives (which ended in turnovers).

Gallery: OSU’s 45-3 loss to UCF in pictures

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Running game: F. The Cowboys used 19 running plays and gained 48 yards. Backup tailback Jaden Nixon had an 18-yard run in the second half. But Gordon, who entered as the nation’s leading rusher, never had a run over five yards. He finished with 25 yards on 12 carries. The lack of a running game had Bowman in bad straits and the OSU offense constantly facing long yardage. The Cowboys faced just two third downs when needing less than five yards.

Uniforms: D. Rarely are the Cowboys out-uniformed. But such was the case Saturday, when UCF’s baby blue “Space Game” threads were superior to OSU’s orange (helmet)/white (jersey)/black (pants) look. The Cowboys now have lost four straight when wearing the orange/white/black combo, including the 48-0 loss at Kansas State last season.

Containing Plumlee: C. Plumlee hurt the Cowboys early with his mobility, more in the run game than scrambling. On 12 designed running plays, Plumlee had 59 yards. He also scrambled for 17 yards on a 3rd-and-15 in the first quarter. Plumlee was sacked once — Collin Oliver got to Plumlee, causing a fumble — but otherwise stayed out of trouble. One of his deep completions came out of scramble mode.

 

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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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