Analytical takeaways from OSU’s loss to UCF: too many missed tackles, too few yards after contact

Analytical takeaways from OSU’s loss to UCF: too many missed tackles, too few yards after contact

Ben Hutchens: Ollie Gordon struggled against UCF, gaining just 25 yards – his first game under 100 yards since OSU's loss to South Alabama in Week 3.

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

| Nov 13, 2023, 4:54pm CST

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

Nov 13, 2023, 4:54pm CST

For the first time in five weeks, OSU coaches had to watch film from a losing effort. Little about OSU’s 45-3 loss to UCF on Saturday was pretty, but coach Mike Gundy said he’s not throwing any of it away. 

“We need to watch this tape as coaches, as hard as that is, we have to watch it and take notes and learn and we have to give the information to players, the things we think can help us next game,” Gundy said.

Here are some conclusions drawn from a look at Pro Football Focus’ advanced analytics. 

Run blocking was poor, but Gordon didn’t create yards after contact.

Pro Football Focus evaluators gave the Cowboys a run-blocking grade of 56.5, their fourth-worst grade of the season. 

Ollie Gordon struggled Saturday, rushing 12 times for 25 yards. It was his first time with less than 100 rushing yards since week three against South Alabama.

“I don’t think we blocked very good,” Gundy said. “I don’t think (Gordon) had a lot of places to run the ball, I mean, I would have to watch the tape to be fair. But I don’t know that we covered guys up and gave him creases in this game like he’s had the last four or five games. 

Gordon also didn’t help himself out much. He averaged 1.08 yards after contact Saturday, less than backup running backs Jaden Nixon (1.76) and freshman Sesi Vailahi (2.0).

Ollie Gordon’s average yards after contact the past six games:

  • At UCF: 1.08
  • Oklahoma: 2.55
  • Cincinnati: 4.72
  • At West Virginia: 6.76
  • Kansas: 3.72
  • Kansas State: 3.81

OSU missed 10 tackles, but the bigger problem is UCF missed only three.

Top offenders for the Cowboys were all members of the secondary. Dylan Smith, Kendal Daniels and Trey Rucker each with two missed tackles.


Ten missed tackles is actually below OSU’s season average of 11.7, and much improved from 17 last week in Bedlam. The problem for OSU on Saturday was the Knights missed three tackles, a season-low for an OSU opponent.

“Some of the plays, we were there and just didn’t make ’em … I think we got outplayed,” OSU linebacker Nick Martin said. “Just one of those games where you gotta take it on the chin. We got humbled.”

OSU got its worst coverage grade of the season.

The freshmen in OSU’s secondary were picked on. Freshman Dylan Smith, who made the final stop in Bedlam last week, was a target of the UCF passing attack. Smith was thrown at a team-high five times, notable, considering UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee threw just 18 passes.

Smith allowed three receptions for 82 yards, an average of 27.3 yards a catch. Freshman D.J. McKinney and sophomore Kale Smith received three targets each. McKinney gave up 46 yards on two catches while Kale Smith allowed 19 yards on two catches.

Bowman didn’t force the ball downfield.

OSU quarterback Alan Bowman’s average depth of target was 7.4 yards downfield, his lowest number since Week 7 against Kansas.

Bowman was 19-of-36 for 225 yards and three interceptions Saturday. He threw 21 passes in the second half, but completed only nine, struggling in downpouring rain. 

“Normally you can kind of throw it in pretty good rain, but for a good half a quarter there, you couldn’t even grab the ball,” Bowman said.

With a lopsided score and the weather on their side, UCF defenders played closer to the line of scrimmage in the second half, forcing Bowman to beat them through the air. It was a solid game plan. 

“To try and make a comeback by pitching the football in a monsoon or whatever the hell that is, it’s pretty hard to do,” OSU offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn 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. It is in Oklahoma where he turned an obsession with sports into a career. He collected bylines on all 16 Oklahoma State varsity sports during his time as a student writing for The O’Colly. He interned at the Stillwater News Press and covered high school football for the Tulsa World. Ben has won some storytelling awards but doesn’t remember them nearly as well as the people who have been impacted by his stories. You can reach him at [email protected] and continue the dialogue @Ben Hutchens_ on social media.

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