Central Arkansas should be easier after a tough opener

Oklahoma State was supposed to have an easy opening game against mid-major Central Michigan but squeezed out a 24-13 win last Thursday.

Everyone will expect a really easy game Saturday as the Cowboys open in Stillwater against Central Arkansas.

The UCA Bears were scorched by Samford, 45-16, in their opener, also last Thursday.

Samford had 342 yards of the offense – in the first half. The Bulldogs had 536 yards for the game, averaging almost 8 yards per play.

One bright spot for UCA was quarterback Taylor Reed, who hit 43 of 63 passes for 312 yards but no touchdowns.

“We just didn’t play very well,’ said UCA head coach Steve Campbell. “We just got beat on both sides of the line of scrimmage. And I think we got beat at a lot of different positions. We just didn’t play anywhere close to the way we needed to play where we’d have a chance to beat a good football team.”

UCA was penalized 12 times for 183 yards and lost several players to injury throughout the game. You can tell it was a bad game with the best player was your punter, who had nine punts and averaged 42.1 yards per punt.

OSU started slow in the game at Central Michigan. The Pokes led 10-6 at the half and fell behind 13-10 in the third quarter.

“We put ourselves in a long yardage situation,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “We need to improve in that area. We weren’t very good in the kicking game. Defensively we were much better in the second half. First half we gave up some big plays. We held our own and really played well against their quarterback. We let him scramble a couple times for some big yards and then got hit on a double pass. They worked the ‘in cut’ to the boundary a little bit on us. We finally adjusted but we were a little slow in adjustments there.

“Overall it was a good win for us. I thought that Mason (Rudolph) played pretty well. He missed a couple but for his fourth start overall, I thought he played pretty well. I think we’ve improved ourselves in the running game we need to continue to work in that area.

“Their quarterback is a good player. I think you see why he’s going to be highly regarded in the future. He throws the ball really nice. I was impressed with the way he sees coverages and he can scramble. He’s hard to get your hands on.”

Central Michigan has a good offense.

“I’m happy with the way our defense played,” Gundy said. “We gave up some big plays but you’re going to give up some yards to a quarterback like this. He’s a good player. In college, quarterbacks make a really big difference. I thought they had a good game plan offensively.”

Morris Watts, a Tulsa graduate, is the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for Central Michigan.

“Morris Watts is their coordinator?” Gundy asked. “He’s been coaching 150 years and I thought they were really sound and did a really good job and defensively, they did a couple things we weren’t really prepared for. They had a little bit of an advantage there so I’m pleased to come up here and these games are not easy.

“You come up here and it’s raining outside and everyone says don’t pay attention to any of those things. You’re in a stadium that’s a little bit different for our players and if you don’t watch it you could get caught just about like we did. We got behind but our guys rallied in the second half. We got a long ways to go we have to get a lot better. I’m sure we found a few things out about first year players. Obviously the punter was a freshman.”

J.W. Walsh’s touchdown run in the second quarter was the 13th rushing score of his career and his first since last year’s season-opener.

Rudolph’s 21-yard rushing score in the third quarter was his longest career rush and his first career rushing touchdown. He connected with Glidden twice for 46 yards on that drive.

“Biggest play of the game in my opinion for us,” Gundy said. “I thought he moved around and made a few plays with his legs. He showed some signs of improving in that area and that’s such a threat for an offense when a quarterback can move around and to be honest with you both guys look the same running.

“Turnovers are important and they did a good job of holding onto the ball also. There were a couple of times where we had it bobbling around and we couldn’t get it but we did take care of the football and early in the season, the two areas that scare you especially when you play on the road are turnovers and special teams. Bono (Bonamego) is a really good special teams coach and so they had us concerned on special teams. You always want to take care of the football “

CMU coach John Bonamego said OSU’s hurry up offense took its toll.

“I think maybe we just got worn down at the end but I thought our guys made a tremendous effort,’ Bonamego said. “You have to give credit to them, they executed and made plays they needed to make down the stretch and we didn’t.

“I think in the fourth quarter when we weren’t able to convert in the third down, we were going three and out in a couple series and our defense had to get right back out on the field. If anything that may have taken a toll on some of the guys. Again, you have to move the ball down the field and we didn’t do a good enough job. Either not efficient enough in the run or penalties, they took away some big plays and prevented us from sustaining drives.”

Oklahoma State has never lost to a team from the Mid- American Conference (5-0. Dating back to 2005, the Cowboys have won 22 consecutive games when not committing a turnover. Dating back to the 2008 season, the Cowboys have won 39 of their last 41 games when winning the turnover battle.