Oklahoma State Football: Cowboys' 2013 Season Report Card
Hard to believe it, but West Virginia changed just about everything.
It's an easy way to look at the season with some rear-view glasses, but the same team that lost to Kansas and Iowa State beat Oklahoma State.
And while the Cowboys had their moments -- notably a blowout win over Baylor that put them back in the BCS picture -- it was that loss to West Virginia which kind of soured the season.
OSU started slow, staggered against West Virginia, gained momentum and slipped at the finish. Still, the Cowboys went 10-3 and finished the year ranked No. 17.
Here's a look at the Cowboys season:
It may have taken a bit of time, but Oklahoma State found its quarterback and then found its running back.
Remember game one? QB Clint Chelf was pulled just after just two series – in the first game. Yeah, that quick. J.W. Walsh came in and then was ultimately replaced on Oct. 19 by Chelf again. That's when the OSU offense got better. Chelf, whose best performance came against Baylor, ended up as the second team All-Big 12 quarterback.
Same goes for the running back situation. Jeremy Smith started the season but was replaced, for the most part, by Desmond Roland, who went for four touchdowns and 219 yards in his first start against Iowa State. Roland wound up with 745 yards and 12 touchdowns.
While the Cowboys had issues at running back and quarterback, the receiver position was solid all year. Josh Stewart had 52 catches and Tracy Moore and Charlie Moore had 11 combined touchdowns.
First-year coordinator Glenn Spencer got a boost from the defensive line and Calvin Barnett, who came into the season as one of the top defensive linemen in the conference. He didn't do anything to hurt his stock, either. He had two sacks, five hurries and 26 tackles from the defensive tackle spot.
Caleb Lavey was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He had 87 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss. Lavey also had four interceptions and and three forced fumbles. Lavey was joined by Shaun Lewis who had 68 tackles and three interceptions.
Overall, OSU was good enough to be second in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally in rushing defense. OSU had 30 take-aways as well, good for seventh in the country.
Perhaps the moment of the season came when Justin Gilbert couldn't quite come up with an interception late against the Sooners in the last regular season game of the year. That's what people will remember, but Gilbert was really good all season. He had six interceptions and 40 tackles. Overall, the defense had 20 interceptions, 12 from defensive backs.
It was the 33 points allowed to OU and then the 41 the Cowboys gave up in the bowl game to Missouri that bumps the grade down a bit.
Again, it took a loss to West Virginia for the Cowboys to open up the offense and it was the inability to make a move at running back to Roland which is responsible, in part, for this grade.
Coach Mike Gundy was good in the middle of the season, but the Cowboys couldn't figure out how to beat OU quarterback Blake Bell in the final moments of Bedlam, a game where OSU was a big favorite.
Then in the bowl game against Missouri, Chelf and Gundy were not at their best.
OSU finished 29th in the country in passing yards and 15th in the country in scoring and 19th in points against. But the losses against teams they were favored to beat were the ones people remember.