Just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in. Kyle Porter from another OSU blog, Pistols Firing, reached out to us this week for another Q&A session. Here are his responses to the same questions we asked CRFF earlier this week:
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?
Kyle Porter: He'll get a resounding reception on Saturday because he really was the architect of last year's run at the title game. He might have left the worksite halfway through the job but without his offense I'm not sure OSU gets to 10-0 last season. As for me, I'm irrational, but he's one of my three favorite coaches in OSU history. I probably believe this because he's a blogger's dream -- the hair, the gambling, the hotels, the "eff you" flea-flickers. There was a game in 2010 against Baylor when OSU was up like 21 in the 4th quarter and he called a flea-flicker from midfield (that worked for a TD, obviously) and I was just like "wow, this dude doesn't give a crap about anything or anybody on the other sideline. This is what I want all of my offensive coordinators to be like." I love him.
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?
KP: One of my college football pet peeves is that teams like Oregon, OSU, and West Virginia get such a raw deal when analysts talk about their defense because for some reason we're still using archaic stats like yards per game and points per game. That being said, I see that WVU is 111th in the country in yards per play given up and OSU is 3rd in yards per play gained so I would expect much of the same on Saturday. The quarterback situation doesn't totally matter I don't think but we really need to get Randle back on track (he's had poor games against Kansas and Kansas State). I hope Lunt starts because I think he could throw for a ton of yards and get a little confidence (win or lose) going into the last quarter of the season.
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?
KP: Oh there's always this "crap, they could go 20-20 on third downs today and we could get beat by 60" feat hanging over our heads. A Pavlovian response to decades of incompetence can't be changed overnight. The defense HAS improved, they just haven't been very good at creating turnovers (115th in the nation). I wrote a post the other day about how at some point it would seem there would be some kind of regression to the mean on turnovers forced otherwise OSU is staring at a historically inept year in that category (it has finished 1st, 5th, and 11th in the last three years in turnovers forced). Hopefully that starts on Saturday.
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?
KP: Our tailgating, while nothing like you'll see at places like LSU and Ole Miss, is actually one of the more underrated (and dare I say best) in the Big 12. Joe's is the tourist-y spot but if you want to get a feel for the town you should hit up Aspen Coffee, Old School Bagel, Thai Cafe, downtown (I use that loosely) eateries like Louie's and Brooklyn's, and cap it off with a night at Murphy's or Dirty's. The best tailgating is on the south side of the stadium where people set up tents any place they can find some empty grass (or parking lot). Good times, win or lose, I promise.
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?
KP: Hah, my hypothetical money is on the over (always) and I think West Virginia will cover 7.5 even though I'm picking my Cowboys. I'll go OSU in a thriller, 48-41.
Thanks again to Kyle from Pistols Firing 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.