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Offensive struggles continue to plague OSU, leading to another loss

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Sooners host Cowboys in Bedlam 2022 (copy)

Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) reacts on the sideline after throwing an interception during the Cowboys’ 28-13 loss to Oklahoma Saturday. Sanders threw 67 times despite dealing with a shoulder injury to his throwing arm for the past month.

Oklahoma State’s offense has continued to sputter during the second half of the season.

Most recently, the Cowboys ran a staggering 102 plays Saturday night and had 13 points to show for it, leading to a disappointing defeat against Oklahoma in Norman.

“We got behind pretty quick and we had some errors on offense that created a short field and some easy opportunities for our opponent, and they took advantage of it,” offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn said. “We were down pretty quickly, and that changes how things go.

“The defense did a hell of a job for the next three quarters of just locking it down and gave us some opportunities. We got down the field and moved the football and just couldn’t find a way to put it in.”

The struggles started early, with OSU netting 8 yards on its first four drives and quarterback Spencer Sanders throwing three of his four interceptions in the first half, helping the Sooners build a 28-0 advantage.

“Offensively, we just can’t manufacture enough right now,” coach Mike Gundy said. “We’re limited in certain areas. We can’t manufacture a lot, and then obviously Spencer didn’t play very well today. Turn the ball over like that and obviously you don’t get a chance.”

Sanders, a fourth-year starter who has won 31 games in his career, threw 67 times despite dealing with a shoulder injury to his throwing arm for the past month. He had 36 completions for 381 yards.

“I don’t want to throw the ball that many times,” Dunn said. “I don’t want to put him in that position to throw the ball that many times. The No. 1 priority, as it’s been for a while now, is to try to create more offense out of the run game.”

The run game was without starter Dominic Richardson, although that might not have made a significant difference. The Cowboys mustered 103 yards and averaged 2.9 yards a carry, comparable to the previous three outings.

“That’s been a common theme all year, how we’re going to run the football and why we didn’t run the ball very well,” Dunn said. “I don’t have a great answer for that. We took our time with the run game this week and we wanted a few runs we could hang our hat on, and we didn’t get it done.”

OSU still managed to produce 484 yards, boosted by 100-yard performances from receivers Brennan Presley and Braydon Johnson. But while the defense was delivering a dozen consecutive stops including six three-and-outs in a row, the offense couldn’t get more than a touchdown and a field goal out of those opportunities.

Asked about Sanders’ four interceptions, Gundy said: “It’s hard to throw when there’s pressure on you (from the opposing defense). … We just didn’t protect him very well and put him on the run a lot. And I think he hurried a few throws.”

The offensive line has been underwhelming, playing a huge role in the struggles within the run game and providing inadequate protection for Sanders when the offense has become one-dimensional.

“We’re playing musical chairs (up front because of injuries),” Gundy said. “Jason Brooks (Jr.) was the best offensive lineman we had the last three weeks and he couldn’t be here this game, so we’re playing too many musical chairs.”

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Sports Writer

I have covered college football and college basketball for the Tulsa World since 2012. I spend my spare time as an animal rescue volunteer, focusing on spaying and neutering community cats in the Tulsa area. Phone: 918-581-8452

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