Time to put last weekend's heartbreaking loss in the rearview mirror and look ahead to the next difficult Big XII game in our Staring Down The Musket series. Kinda makes you miss the Big East, doesn't it? Nah! Despite the team's record and my resulting hair loss, the chance to play marquee teams on a weekly basis makes life as a fan far more exciting. This week, we have a bit of intrigue as Dana Holgorsen, Joe DeForest, Robert Gillespie and Jake Spavital return to Stillwater, Oklahoma where they cut their coaching teeth under Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy. Robert Whetsell from Cowboys Ride For Free helps give us a glimpse of the impending blowout loss that awaits the Mounties in the
Sooner T. Boone Pickens state.
Country Roads: The first question on everybody's mind this week is Dana Holgorsen's "homecoming" of sorts, as well as the return of Joe DeForest, Robert Gillespie, and Jake Spavital. Obviously he was only in Stillwater for one year, but he did some pretty amazing things with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and company. How do you guys feel about Holgo and what kind of reception do you think he'll get Saturday?
Cowboys Ride For Free: I'm sure there will be a few "ceremonial" boos from the crowd, but the vast majority LOVE Holgorsen. One of the other OSU bloggers (Pistols Firing) has a HUGE man crush on Dana and has used some type of pic of him as his twitter avatar for some time. We at CRFF are big fans, and hold no grudges for his move...we knew he wouldn't be here long, and he was largely responsible for two of the greatest seasons ever at Oklahoma State. As far as the other guys...listen, as long as you weren't an asshole, once a Cowboy, always a Cowboy. Most former anything here is welcomed back with open arms. Not to say we don't want to beat the shit out you, but we'll still shake hands and maybe even hug afterwards...in a manly way...
CR: Other than one hiccup against Kansas, your offense has just kept on rolling, averaging over 42 points a game (okay, helped by 84 against Savannah State and 65 against ULL). WVU seemed to have a resurgence defensively, albeit against a very young TCU team. The Pokes' quarterback situation seems to be in flux, though, with Wes Lunt and Clint Chelf splitting practice reps this week. What do you expect offensively against the Mountaineers? Any preference on who starts at QB? Or will the offense just run through Joseph Randle regardless?
CRFF: Since all of us at CRFF think your defense sucks, that is basically the kiss of death, meaning your defense will probably play like Alabama.
Ok, maybe not like Alabama, but will definitely play better than anyone here is expecting.
Our offense is a weird kind of good, meaning they're pretty good, it just doesn't feel like it sometimes. Maybe it's because we were completely spoiled by Weeden and Blackmon. In one moment, we look even better than last year, with more options. In the next, we go 3 & out in the blink of an eye. Part of that is the QB situation, which is now starting to feel a bit like Maryland. Our coaches are full of it...Lunt sustained a concussion. No 2 ways about it. Puking on the sidelines and had trouble with his vision. Chelf will start, and he's good. OSU was blessed with three QB's who could have all started somewhere in Div 1. Chelf is the most mature of the three and actually has the most experience around the offense, even though the KState game was his first meaningful action after two years of mop up duty behind Weeden. He also is a combo of the other two. Better arm than Walsh, better legs than Lunt. He and Walsh didn't lose the QB competition as much as Lunt won it. That being said, he obviously wasn't happy about being #3 and likely has a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
Randle is fantastic, but he's not the kind of back that will impose his own will. He needs a little help to do that, either from the offensive line or from the passing game. Teams that have sold out to stop the run have had more success than those who played us straight up. TCU gave us a fight until Lunt loosened them up in the second half. Once that happened, Randle had more success. Seems odd for a team that is predicated on passing, but we are young at both QB and WR, so in the end those struggles make some sense.
Ball security has been an issue, but I would expect that to NOT be a problem immediately following a 5 TO outing in Manhattan. Scoring TD's instead of FG's in the red zone is also a bit of a concern.
Not going to leave out Todd Monken either. He has done tremendous things tweaking Dana's magic, but his play calling is a bit mysterious sometimes, and often at critical times. He can go conservative REALLY quick. He also was spoiled by our former QB & WR, who could make about anything he called work.
That being said, Cowboy fans would be very unhappy with anything less than 40, and I think many are expecting 50+. I'll take a win, period.
CR: In last year's Big XII championship season, you rode an opportunistic defense to an 11-1 regular season and Fiesta Bowl win. This year, the defense overall seems to be improved. Is that attributable to ridding yourselves of Joe eForest (Get it? No D!), players maturing, or what? And although WVU hasn't been quite the same on offense over the last 3 games, is there any fear Geno Smith and company will round back into form and hang half a hundred on the Cowboys?
CRFF: There was a time when none of us would have agreed with "the defense overall seems to be improved," but in conference play the front seven have been really good. Our pass coverage has improved somewhat since the Texas game, but if you tell Geno to just keep throwing it at Justin Gilbert (and he will bite on the double move...just ask Klein and Co.), you most definitely might hang fitty on us. The D-line and the LB's are a different story. Barnett and Castleman are beasts in the middle, and our whole allotment of LB's are pretty solid versus run or pass. The big problem is they aren't creating ANY turnovers to speak of, at least not enough to really make a difference. The biggest reason for any perceived improvement is recruiting better athletes. The scheme has not really changed.
That unit definitely played well enough to win the game last Saturday. Only 23 of KState's points were on them. If they don't come out flat, I would expect them to hold WV to anywhere from 21-28 points, and that should be good enough to win the game.
CR: For Mountaineer fans taking the Oregon Trail out west this week, what can folks expect to find? Any must-see hot-spots? How's the tailgating? Do all the people wearing orange still act like they did while they were in prison? (Orange jumpsuit joke! I know not all OSU fans are convicted felons.) Or can we expect some hospitality among our new conference mates?
CRFF: Here's where I have a problem...I haven't spent significant time in Stillwater since 1981. My advice would suck because most places I might know aren't there anymore, except for Eskimo Joe's. So King has put together a nice little itinerary planner that I will pass along, complete with a Dana reference. I'm afraid King figured out how to block the tracking device we had imbedded in his thick skull, so we won't be able to give you ample warning of where he is and if he is about to get kicked out. You don't want to be there if that happens, so keep your ears open...you'll hear the event WAY before it reaches its climax.
I will say this...the game time is perfect for tremendous tailgating, and you will be hard pressed to find better hospitality. It will be a great scene, and folks will be genuinely glad to see you, especially since this is the Mountaineers first trip to Stillwater. Oh, and Joe's will be very difficult to get into. The cheese fries might be worth it, though.
King: Okay, well you're going to have to get to boozing early. Joe's will open up the outdoor stand early to get you going, but you're going to need some food probably. First, stay the hell away from Shortcakes. Unless you've stayed up the entire night drinking, but even then it's sketchy. I'd also suggest a couple of diners downtown and Boom a Rang is pretty good.
Also, if you're downtown you can take the shuttle to the game so you don't have to pay $40 to park. However, the shuttle doesn't run from downtown to the strip, and you don't want to make that walk. The tailgate scene is always there, and I think OSU will have some breakfast stuff for purchase, but it will be overpriced and shitty.
Downtown also has Finnegan's Pub and Louie's, which have great drink prices, but are kinda isolated from the strip bars. After the game there are tons of restaurants but all will be packed, so anticipate that. On the strip a Fuzzy's Tacos just opened, and they're badass. If you have 4 people with you (you have to have 4 ID"s cause they're pussies) you can actually buy a fishbowl full of alcohol. I fully recommend the Limey's at the Copper Penny, and the College Bar is okay. Willies doesn't have tons of TV's but it's enough. Avoid Outlaws and JR Murphys, because while they are the nicest bars on the strip, they water down their booze like crazy. Sadly, Murphys is the best place to watch football, outside of Buffalo Wild Wings.
George's Stables is across the street from Joe's (like 10 feet away, I'm amazed they've survived) and it's pretty decent. The Stonewall is okay, good beer prices.
Be aware, there are like two cabs in Stillwater, so have a plan. For dinner, any place you can get in is the best place to eat. If you like sushi, Kyoto off Main is good. For steak, the Ranchers Club is legit but pricey (and has a dress code). El Tapatio has some good mexican if you like grease.
If you're completely crazy, drive to OKC and party balls in Bricktown. Lots of fun, requires lots of money. My suggestion: after the game go to Louie's, survive the wait, have some drinks and get some food, then head to the strip and bar hop til closing time. Try to find yourself a wasted co-ed and get you a Dana Holgorsen snack. After that, IHOP is open.
Oh, and don't forget the Thai Cafe on Husband if you get the chance. Really good food.
CR: We at the Musket like to think of ourselves as wannabe gamblers. Oklahoma State opened as 7.5 point favorites and the over/under is set at 79. Where's your "hypothetical" money this week?
CRFF: I'm jumping on the OSU cover and the over...which means everyone else should take WV to cover and the under. Well, maybe not the under. I think our defense has a better chance of slowing down your offense than vice versa. That being said, Chelf's 2nd half heroics in Manhattan might have been a flash in the pan...he could be good for a pick or two, we could toss in a fumble or two, the defense could come out flat after the great effort last week, and this whole thing would be one giant crap shoot. Our coverage units are almost as non-existent as your Baylor's defense, so we hide under a table anytime Sharp doesn't kick it out of the stadium.
I think the Cowboys right the ship...55-28.
Good luck and travel safe to all who are making the trip!
Thanks again to Robert Whetsell from CRFF for taking the time to answer our questions. As always, be sure to head over there for some Cowboys intel, good-natured smack talk, and my answers to his questions. Let's Go!