While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Oklahoma State tailback Justice Hill continues to impress in his freshman campaign. Facing a second-and-short in the redzone, No. 27 had his number called — and he delivered with a spin-move away from a defender as he powered his way into the end zone.Justice Hill. Beast mode. pic.twitter.com/yxtqw5zcHH— Oklahoma State (@TheOkiePokie) November 12, 2016
The 2017 recruiting class is nearing an end, with signing day just around the corner in February. It’s time to check in on where OSU ranks nationally, and how they may finish out the class over the coming months.National rankOklahoma State’s class ranks 32nd nationally, but that mark is good for second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma. They are one spot behind Rutgers (!!), but notably ahead of Texas, UCLA, and Houston. Factor in the transfer addition of former five-star receiver Tyron Johnson, and the class ranking moves all the way up to No. 22.Here is the Big 12 standings.Headline recruitsThe 2017 recruiting class may be one of the best Gundy has put together in recent memory, with strength from top to bottom that should meet the Pokes needs right away. Tylan Wallace, a wide receiver from Fort Worth South Hills, is the highest rated recruit (a four-star, top 100 talent), and is the highest rated receiver since Dez Bryant to commit to OSU. The biggest need for this class is at running back, however. OSU loses Chris Carson, Barry J. Sanders, and Rennie Childs — but they’re bringing in two studs to supplement the losses. The first: Canadian speedster Chuba Hubbard. The second: Georgia tailback J.D. King, who has a powerful, downhill style of running. I think both will play as true freshmen.The Cowboys are also bringing in a 6-foot-7 quarterback from Ellenwood, Georgia, named Jelani Woods. He picked OSU over Michigan, South Carolina, and many others. He will be an early enrollee.Prospects to watchWith 19 commits in the class, Oklahoma State’s biggest needs are mostly addressed: namely at safety and running back. I think they could and maybe should look at adding a cornerback in this class, as well, but as it stands there are several prospects still being pursued.Evan Fields — safetyAnother running back — From what I understand, OSU won’t take another on top of Hubbard and King unless it’s an elite back a la Eno Benjamin or Travis Etienne Jr.Another offensive linemanDavid Anenih — defensive endOutside of those spots, the class is all but filled out, as far as I can tell.Where they will finishThis class only has one true “four-star” prospect with Tylan Wallace, so there’s only so high a class can rise with a bevvy of three-star recruits. If you’re taking into consideration the addition of Tyron Johnson, I think OSU will finish in the top 25. But not counting him, they should hover right around where they are now — anywhere from 30 to 35 nationally. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Walsh is now shifting from under Gary Patterson to joining Adam Dorrell’s coaching staff — a guy who has had success at every level of his coaching career.Walsh’s dad, John Walsh, is the head coach at Denton Guyer. So coaching runs in his veins. This move is likely the first of many as he will likely move up the chain as young, promising coaches do. Even Marcus Arroyo thinks the hire was a no-brainer.NoBrainer … stud!— Coach Arroyo?OREGON® (@coacharroyoTheO) December 22, 2016 It’s been less than a year since J.W. Walsh took a graduate assistant coaching job at TCU. He’s already moving up the coaching ladder, as Adam Boedeker reports he will now take over the running backs coach job at Abilene Christian.Vacay tweet: Confirmed w/John Walsh that GA @coachwalshtcu has accepted RB coach gig at Abilene Christian. Will coach TCU bowl game. #txhsfb— Adam Boedeker (@aboedeker) December 22, 2016
UEFA Champions League Stop the Neymar show! The spotlight is now on Mbappe Peter Staunton Click here to see more stories from this author Chief Correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 16:00 6/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Getty Images UEFA Champions League PSG v Metz PSG v Real Madrid Metz PSG Real Madrid Ligue 1 Neymar Kylian Mbappé Opinion The injury sustained by Neymar means all eyes will be on the young French superstar, who has been thrust again into the limelight ahead of schedule Paris Saint-Germain’s signing of Neymar last summer for €222 million gave cause for concern to the club’s Qatari higher-ups. Uefa, not long after the deal, announced an investigation into how PSG intended to meet break-even requirements as stipulated by Financial Fair play regulations.Spending so much money without the relevant revenue streams elsewhere to cover it is always going to bring a club onto the financial radar and it was reported — post Neymar — that PSG’s squad was to split in two; transferables and untransferables.Among those to ship out in order to balance the books were Lucas Moura and Blaise Matuidi. Also in the transferrable pile was Angel Di Maria until an intervention by coach Unai Emery offered the winger a stay of execution. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Now he will get his chance to play from the start in the Champions League for the first time this season against the team with whom he won the cup in 2014 – Real Madrid. His place in the team comes at the expense of Neymar, convalescing following his high-profile foot injury suffered against Olympique Marseille a couple of weekends ago.That injury, combined with first-leg defeat to Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu, is reckoned to have brought a certain amount of doom and gloom around Parc des Princes. Overturning a two-goal deficit against Zinedine Zidane’s team – so at home in the Champions League despite their domestic troubles – is a tough ask under any circumstance. But doing so without the world’s most expensive player and flagship signing is another thing altogether.But PSG’s band of transferables and untransferables will now come together in an attempt to prove they are capable of achievement without the preening Brazilian in their ranks. It’s no secret that Neymar has been indulged by PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi since his arrival from Barcelona. He enjoys extended breaks between matches — one incident last month saw the 26-year-old given two days off for his lavish birthday party while his team-mates sweated it out in a Coupe de France game against Sochaux. Di Maria, for the record, got a hat-trick that night.Neymar put Edinson Cavani’s nose out of joint earlier in the season by demanding primacy for penalty kicks. Tensions have been smoothed over in that regard but Neymar upset local fans by denying the Uruguayan the chance to achieve PSG’s all-time goalscoring record from the spot in a laughably one-sided game against Dijon in January. For better or for worse, there is no chance of Neymar taking any spot-kick away from Cavani this week.PSG in ordinary circumstances could be reasonably assured of a positive outcome. They have not lost a match in Paris’s 16th arrondissement in about two years. They are defending a run of 19 consecutive wins at home and their Champions League form in their own surrounds is formidable.Their last four games — a run stretching back to last season’s last-16 first leg against Barcelona — have yielded 19 goals and four victories. Barca, and Bayern Munich for that matter, have been swept aside. Di Maria was the architect of that brilliant night against Barca, scoring twice, and will relish the chance to restore his reputation in the competition’s highest-profile fixture.Much too will depend on the man opposite him on the other flank. Kylian Mbappe, whose permanent signing from Monaco was deferred lest PSG suffer further at the hands of Uefa, is already earning a sterling reputation across the continent. Now touted as the world’s finest attacking prospect, Mbappe has wasted no time in demonstrating his potency on the biggest stage.The 19-year-old has scored 10 goals in 17 Champions League games — being the youngest man to reach that 10-goal landmark in the process. Neymar was signed for the here and now with Mbappe marked out for a starring role in the future but he has made a habit of overcoming obstacles ahead of schedule. Now he is carrying the big burden.If it were a race between them to see who might win the Ballon d’Or first, well, it could be seen as neck-and-neck. Not many prospects have ever begun their top-level careers with this kind of hype but the boy from Bondy is justifying it.Madrid missed out on both Neymar and Mbappe at various points along their development path with options ultimately sought by their fathers and advisers elsewhere. Neymar missed his chance two weeks ago to show what he could do but now the onus will fall on Mbappe.He, too, is not in the rudest of health. He missed the routine dismissal of Troyes in Ligue 1 as a few days before an ankle injury befell him. He asked Emery for a substitution at half-time after receiving a knock against Marseille – the very team against who Neymar suffered four days prior. That weekend rest should see him fit enough to start and to attempt to lead the comeback against the defending champions.Last year it was Di Maria shining in the home leg against Barcelona while Neymar was very much the protagonist in the second leg comeback. Now is the time for Mbappe to show that he too can be the leader, the talisman, the spark, and that nasty Uefa business can wait until the end of the season.
Liverpool Liverpool’s Firmino hoping for all-English Champions League quarter-final tie Goal 08:11 8/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Liverpool UEFA Champions League Liverpool v Porto Porto While team-mate Emre Can hopes to avoid playing another English team, the Brazilian believes such a clash would benefit the Reds Emre Can said on Tuesday that he would prefer for Liverpool to avoid another English side in the Champions League quarter-finals, but team-mate Roberto Firmino feels exactly the opposite. “I prefer to not play an English team, but I don’t care who,” Can said after his Liverpool side advanced to the last eight of Europe’s top for the first time since 2009. But his Brazilian team-mate feels like a clash against another Premier League side could be just the draw the Reds want to continue their advancement in the competition. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp With as many as four Premier League teams on pace to be in the quarter-finals, two Premier League sides being paired is a distinct possibility, and Firmino believes that Liverpool’s record against the top sides in the English top flight would bode well.“Yes, we’d like a draw against an English club,” he said. “Why not? We have shown in the past few seasons we can beat all the English clubs. “Our record is good against them. We feel we have played well against the top English clubs and shown we can beat them.”While drawing an English club would possibly give Jurgen Klopp’s side a mental boost, Firmino believes that his side making the last eight has given his team plenty of confidence to face whichever team they draw. “We are not concerned who we get. We don’t mind. We are not afraid. I don’t think we have anything to fear from any side now. “If you are in the draw (at this stage) then you can not be afraid of anyone. We feel we can beat any side on our day, and we don’t mind who we get. I think we are a team who will cause problems to others.“Of course they are good teams. They are all good teams (left in the draw). But I don’t think it matters to us (who we get).”We are a good team, we can play against the big Spanish teams and we feel we can be a match for them. You have to play against the big teams.”Liverpool and Manchester City have both confirmed their places in the last eight, though Tottenham fell short on Wednesday, losing out to Juventus 2-1 in the second leg. Manchester United and Chelsea could also still qualify, with Jose Mourinho’s side having worked out a 0-0 away draw in the first leg and Antonio Conte’s club level at 1-1 with Barcelona ahead of the return leg at the Camp Nou. Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the web
Lionel Messi Messi announces arrival of third child after withdrawing from Barca squad Chris Burton Last updated 1 year ago 21:40 10/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(17) LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images Lionel Messi Barcelona Málaga v Barcelona Málaga Primera División The Argentine has confirmed fans’ suspicions after he had withdrawn from the squad to face Malaga for ‘personal reasons’ Lionel Messi has announced the arrival of his third child after Barcelona had announced earlier in the day that he had withdrawn from the squad to face Malaga.The Blaugrana alerted the public early in the day on Saturday that their star player would not make the trip to La Rosaleda with the rest of the squad, stating only that the Argentine would not feature in the Liga clash due to ‘personal reasons’, with centre-back Yerry Mina taking his place in the squad.Messi announced in October of 2017 that his wife, Antonella, was pregnant again, leading fans to suspect that the birth of his third child was the reason for his exclusion from the squad. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp The 30-year-old has since confirmed those suspicions, taking to Instagram to let fans know that his newborn son, named Ciro, and the child’s mother had both come through with no issues and that his family are all happy and healthy: “Welcome Ciro! Thank God everything went perfect. Mom and he are very well. We are super happy!”Messi already had two sons, Mateo and Thiago.As for Barcelona, the Catalan side will likely not be too hindered by the Argentine’s absence as they have plenty of quality to call upon – including the likes of star youngster Ousmane Dembele – as they travel to face a Malaga side that sit rock bottom of La Liga having picked up only 13 points from 27 games.The Camp Nou side remain well on course to be named champions of the Spanish top flight, boasting an eight-point gap between themselves and second-placed Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid remain in third place.Messi himself, meanwhile, has enjoyed another standout season for Barca in 2017-18, with 32 goals netted in just 41 appearances.
Manchester United Mourinho hails ‘humble’ McTominay following maiden Scotland call-up Dom Farrell 20:39 13/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Manchester United Premier League Manchester United v Sevilla UEFA Champions League Scotland The Manchester United manager has paid tribute to an emerging midfield star who has seen his domestic efforts recognised at international level Jose Mourinho believes Scott McTominay’s humble nature and willingness to learn is behind the Manchester United midfielder’s rapid rise.The 21-year-old has enjoyed an impressive breakthrough season at Old Trafford this season and was rewarded with a maiden call-up into the Scotland squad on Monday for forthcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary.McTominay, who was born in Lancaster so is also eligible to play for England, played a key role in United’s recent matches against Sevilla, Chelsea and Liverpool. Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Ahead of the return against the LaLiga side in the Champions League, Mourinho praised the youngster’s studious approach to his profession”He’s playing well. He is using every minute on the pitch and outside the pitch to learn,” said the United boss, whose side shared a 0-0 draw at Sevilla in the first leg of the last-16 tie.”He’s humble, he wants to learn. He doesn’t want headlines or flashes. He just wants to work, improve and be useful for his team”He was progressively getting chances to play. He got the injuries of Michael Carrick, [Marouane] Fellaini, [Paul] Pogba and [Ander] Herrera – basically all of the midfield players I have.”He was getting minutes and getting experience and the best way to improve is to be on the pitch. He is a good learner.”Mourinho added: “I remember his beginning when he was not always on the bench but I was taking him with the team as an extra player.”I remember him clearly in the dressing room, in the meetings eating every word, listening to everything.”I think his humble nature is what is making him a good player for us.”
Transfers ‘I’ve been average’ – Arsenal target Malcom admits he must improve Robin Bairner 23:43 15/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Transfers Arsenal Bordeaux v Rennes Arsenal v Milan Bordeaux Rennes Milan Ligue 1 UEFA Europa League The Brazilian attacker is happy to leave his future in the hands of his agents for now and is instead focusing only on himself Bordeaux attacker Malcom has admitted that if he wishes to win a summer move to a big club, he will have to rediscover his top gear.Arsenal, Tottenham and Bayern Munich are among the teams who have taken an interest in the 21-year-old, who has caught the eye this season with a series of spectacular performances in Ligue 1.The player himself has admitted that his season will be his last at Stade Matmut-Atlantique. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp However, his performances have cooled off of late and after serving a ban for diving, he has yet to show his best level for Gus Poyet’s side.“It’s a moment that I’m not playing well, quite average,” he told RMC. “I have to rediscover my level this weekend against Rennes.”Poyet has previously indicated that his charge has been distracted by transfer rumours but the former Corinthians player says his head is currently firmly in the game.“I’m calm,” he added. “I’m only thinking about Bordeaux. Everything else gets left to my agents.”Speaking previously about the attacker, Poyet said: “He’s our special player. He likes to be a special player and it’s good for his character and his ambition to be a very good player, but it doesn’t work all the time.”While Malcom has primarily played wide on the left this season, he has been tipped for a playmaker role against Rennes at the weekend in a clash that will be important in Ligue 1’s European race.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. STILLWATER — When Hawaii granted Dru Brown his release in the summer of 2018, it was a junior college connection that led him to Oklahoma State.Brown had started 22 games in two years with the Rainbow Warriors where he threw for 5,273 yards and scored 43 total touchdowns when he took to social media, stating he received his release. In the post, he thanked his coaches and Hawaii as a whole before announcing he would graduate and transfer elsewhere.Among the replies of gratitude and well-wishes, there was Sione Finefeuiaki. Brown and Finefeuiaki were teammates for a season at the College of San Mateo, and Finefeuiaki, a cowboy back at OSU in 2017 and 2018, had an idea as to where his former teammate should transfer:“I didn’t think he’d actually pursue it because at the time, Dru had places like Washington State, LSU and other places offer him, as well,” Finefeuiaki, who played two seasons at OSU in 2017 and 2018, told PFB in an interview this week. “I never thought that he’d actually come to OSU. I kind of did it jokingly, but we talked and found out he was serious about it and we kind of went from there.”From there, Finefeuiaki passed Brown’s tape to OSU player development specialist Beni Tonga, where the idea of Brown coming to Stillwater got shot up the line.“I talked to Beni,” Finefeuiaki said. “At first, I would bring it up, and Beni was like, ‘OK.’ Then I asked Beni the next day. I was like, ‘Beni, did you check out his film?’ Beni would say that he was going to but he hadn’t looked at it yet.“So, I kind of bugged Beni about it. Beni, he also helps with the cowboy backs, so I built a pretty good relationship with Beni. I kept bugging Beni about it, telling Beni that this guy’s the real deal. I showed him Dru’s highlight tape from Hawaii, and if you’ve seen Dru’s highlight tape from Hawaii, the man goes off. I guess Beni finally got to it, and he’s able to show (Mike) Yurcich and (Mike) Gundy, and it kind of went from there.”Brown and Finefeuiaki are both from the Bay Area in California. Finefeuiaki said the two played against each other in high school before teaming up at the College of San Mateo. In Brown’s one season with the Bulldogs, he threw for 1,879 yards and 21 touchdowns in a triple-option offense. In his final game at the junior college level, Brown threw for 425 yards and seven scores.That 2015 season was Finefeuiaki’s first of two with the Bulldogs. That season, he played as a linebacker before moving to fullback in 2016. Despite being on opposite sides of the ball, Finefeuiaki said it wasn’t hard becoming friends with Brown.“Dru was just really open,” Finefeuiaki said. “It’s pretty easy to build a relationship with Dru. Most of our goals kind of aligned. We both wanted to go big Division I. Dru is really deep into his faith. Dru’s one of those guys where it’s just easy to click with him.”After Finefeuiaki got Brown’s foot in the door, Brown said he was able to talk on the phone with OSU coach Mike Gundy and then-offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. Brown took a visit and decided to use his final season of eligibility away from the beaches of Hawaii or comfort of Northern California in Stillwater.The transition wasn’t as seamless as it appears — and it still isn’t. Sure, Mason Rudolph was headed to the Pittsburgh Steelers after starting games for the Cowboys in the past four seasons. But, Brown was joining the team the same time All-Texas everything quarterback Spencer Sanders was, and fifth-year senior Taylor Cornelius was still at OSU after learning under Rudolph for four seasons.After being Hawaii’s guy the past two seasons, Brown was limited to one snap at OSU in 2018, and it only came because Cornelius’ helmet came off in the Liberty Bowl. Not many grad transfers’ idea of a dream start at a Power 5 school.‘I’m a firm believer that it’s beautiful everywhere’Stillwater summers are what you make them.For some, it’s a boring town to be in during June and July as a good chunk of the population leaves when the school year ends. Others embrace the serenity of things, something Dru Brown did this summer.Brown is from San Mateo, California, which is between San Francisco and San Jose. When he was looking for something to do in the middle of America, he turned to offensive linemen Johnny Wilson, a Texan, and Ry Schneider, an Oklahoman.“Can you guys teach me how to fish? Because I’ve never been fishing before,” Brown asked.“I had to fix the pole a couple times, but he got the hang of it,” Wilson said of Brown’s first outing. “He’s getting better. He’s good. He can throw an open face now, he can throw the spinner, so it’s good.”For four straight days Brown didn’t catch a thing, but he said he was adamant on at least catching something before he turned this new hobby down. Then he finally got one.Well DAG-GUM 🐠🐟 pic.twitter.com/J3lvX4k4OT— Dru Brown (@dbrownTNDO) July 27, 2019“As soon as I caught something, it was like an addiction,” Brown said. “We’ve gone a bunch. Obviously, camp started, so we can’t go out as much. I’m sure that me and Johnny will go as soon as we get a day off here soon.”Oklahoma is not California, and it’s certainly not Hawaii. Although Oklahoma might not have California’s weather or Hawaii’s beaches, Brown said the state has its own appeal and beauty.“It’s just different,” Brown said. “I’m a firm believer that it’s beautiful everywhere,” he adds. “Being from California, the transition to Hawaii was different, but the transition out here was really different.“If I didn’t have to sit last year, and sit behind Corn, I would have never, probably, fished ever. It’s just a blessing in disguise. Me being out here for a year, and me getting involved in things people do out here, it’s beautiful in its own way, for sure.”The End of Brown’s Well-Traveled Collegiate CareerOSU has yet to name a starting QB, and it appears the two will likely share snaps early in the season. Still, there are more ways for Brown to prove himself as a college QB than just touchdowns and victories.“Leadership, I think that’s one thing Dru was able to do with this offseason,” Finefeuiaki said. “He was able to show his leadership because when Dru came last year, he came right at fall camp. Nobody really knew who Dru was. Whereas this year, he had the whole offseason to show his work ethic and all that. His faith, his leadership, his accountability and just how hard he works. The guy’s always putting the extra work in. … I don’t think there’s anybody who works harder than Dru.”What might’ve been originally been just one year for Brown in Stillwater quickly turned into two, as he was able to take advantage of the new rule that allows players to play in up to four games while still retaining a redshirt. He went about his business, spent a year in OSU’s system and now might start for one of the best offenses in the country.There aren’t enough fish in Lake McMurtry to match that kind of anticipation.
The Cowboys, as double-digit underdogs, are looking to avoid losing three straight conference games for the first time since 2014. And they’re doing that in a venue, in Jack Trice Stadium, that still send shivers up the spines of OSU fans.Looking at the last three weeks from both teams gives one little confidence that Oklahoma State can pull out the upset. But if the Cowboys want to increase their odds, here are five things we’ll need to see from them.1. Clean Up the TOsWe’ve covered this over and over again, but until something changes, this should be item numero uno on Mike Gundy’s to-do list.After not committing a turnover in Week 1 at Oregon State (a game that appears to define the word aberration), OSU gave it away twice in four straight games, and then eight times between losses at Texas Tech and Baylor.Fourteen of those 16 are credited to Spencer Sanders, further adding to the stress of taking the reins of an offense that has become synonymous with big numbers and success.Gundy has implied that the issue is a priority for his coaching staff and even guaranteed an improvement. Let’s hope we see it on Saturday.2. Play into the AtmosphereWith the sour taste of a homecoming loss still lingering, the Cowboys will play the part of homecoming guest on Saturday. The Cyclones always seem to play the Cowboys tough at home, but this home crowd may be as rowdy as any OSU has ever faced in Ames.The Cyclones are riding a school-record five straight Big 12 wins at home and have won nine of the last 10 in Ames. They enter on a current overall streak of three straight wins. At least as far back as the start of the Big 12, Iowa State has never hosted OSU on such a win streak.I’ve heard that some teams can feed off of a road crowd’s negative energy. I’m not sure how much that actually helps you, but if it offers a little extra motivation, I’m sure Mike Gundy will take it.3. Let ‘Er RipIf OSU drops its third straight, we are no longer in the This is a disappointing season category, we’ve moved up a notch or two on the panic meter.The rest of the schedule goes likes this: TCU, Kansas, at West Virginia, Oklahoma, Bowl Game (?). I expect a win over Kansas (I think) but I don’t know how confident I feel against TCU, especially if OSU is riding a three-game skid. West Virginia on the road doesn’t help me sleep at night and Bedlam calls for a double dose of Ambien.So this is a must-win for the Cowboys. Throw it all out there. Take risks when you need to. Open up the playbook. More fake punts, fewer handoffs up the gut on second-and-6.4. Confidence is KeyConfidence is crucial for anyone. It helps Mike Gundy weather an up-and-down season easier. It helps you do your job better. It even helps me write a better blog post. But it’s especially vital to a freshman QB who came in riding the hopes of a fan base only to draw its ire seven games in.We saw flashes on Saturday especially during the last drive of the second quarter. Sanders was checking down to Jelani Woods. He was hitting open receivers on both sides of the field. But an underthrow on a fade route to Jordan McCray turned what could have been a turning-point TD drive into potentially another ding to his confidence.But Gundy said Sanders handled himself well through that adversity, better than he had even two weeks before at Texas Tech.“Sanders is a very prideful young man,” said Gundy. “The only issue he needs to work on is thinking that he can play a perfect game. He will accept responsibility. He will tell you he is wrong. He will tell you it is his fault. He wants to play a perfect game and that is not going to happen.”As Gundy pointed out, Sanders doesn’t need to play a perfect game, but he does need more confidence and OSU’s coaching staff can help him with that by putting him situations where he can succeed.Whether it’s Mike Gundy or Sean Gleeson in charge of the headset, it’s up to the two of them to help their QB out. Roll him out on more RPOs, draw up some designed QB runs and for Pistol Pete’s sake, no more handoffs up the gut on second- and third-and-long.5. Finish the 4thIf the Cowboys want a chance at the upset this weekend, they’ll need to dig deep and come up with something that’s lacked for most of this year, an ability to finish strong.The Cowboys owned a fourth quarter lead against Baylor last Saturday before giving up 21-straight to the Bears. It won’t get any easier against ISU. The Cyclones have outscored teams in the final frame and overtime 89-33 this season, scoring on 18 of 24 possessions. That’s a +56 margin. OSU, on the other hand, has been outscored 70-45 (-25). Not great.OSU’s defense looked pretty good in the first half against Baylor, but looked pretty awful late. You have to think at least some of that is credited to fatigue as a lack of sustained drives plus some turnovers by its offense.If Oklahoma State does find itself in the thick of it late, it will take something that we’ve yet to see thus far, an ability to close the deal. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.