By Jason Elmquist
The Norman Transcript
HOUSTON — Oklahoma State had to rely on something Saturday in the season opener that has been a crutch for the Cowboys the past few years — defense.
With the OSU offense sputtering for the better part of the first half, the Cowboy defense bore down on the Mississippi State Bulldogs — giving up only a field goal on the opening drive of the game.
The Pokes rode that pony all the way to a 21-3 victory for both OSU and the Big 12 Conference.
“There haven’t been many games at Oklahoma State over the last five or six years — maybe longer than that — where defense was the story. It’s a team game, and the defense certainly kept us in the game and allowed our offense to get things going,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “... It’s really early, and I don’t want to put the cart ahead of the horse, but I felt that we were more athletic and more talented up front (on defense) than we have been in the years I’ve been here as the head coach. So this was a good step for us.”
With Clint Chelf getting the start at quarterback, the Oklahoma State offense couldn’t go anywhere — with most throws being short passes or screen plays. After two unsuccessful drives with Chelf at the helm — with OSU picking up just 21 yards and one first down — Chelf made way for J.W. Walsh.
The Denton, Texas, native took advantage of his opportunity in the Cowboy backfield.
Though his first three drives stalled near midfield, Walsh did move the ball more effectively. And when he was finally given the chance to use his greatest asset — his legs — the Cowboys finally broke the game open.
With OSU still trailing 3-0 with four minutes remaining in the first half, Walsh broke loose for a 46-yard run to the Mississippi State 14 — the first time in the red zone for the Cowboys. Just a few plays later, Walsh walked in for a 3-yard touchdown to give Oklahoma State a lead into halftime.
“It was exciting just to be able to get in the first game of the season — we’ve been waiting all year for it,” said Walsh, who was named the starter by Gundy for next week’s game against UTSA. “To be able to get in and get to play and lay it on the line with the guys ... it was a lot of fun. There were some tough moments at the beginning there, but once we hit our stride we were good.”