Spencer Sanders had a complete game passing and running the ball, Brennan Presley went full PPR stud, Jaden Nixon channeled his inner Devin Hester (again) and the OSU defense looked stout against a QB that shredded it in the Big 12 title game last season. So, yes, you could say Saturday was a success for the Pokes in their 36-25 win over No. 16 Baylor — and the report card this week reflects as much.
Let’s get to the Week 5 grades.
Spencer Sanders: A
The revenge tour of Spencer Sanders is absolutely, positively glorious folks. King stays kingin. You love to see it. He was lethal against the Bears through the air (20 of 29 passing, 181 yards, one score, one pick) but especially lethal on the ground, where he led the team with 75 yards rushing and an additional score. After throwing four picks and zero touchdowns vs. Baylor in the conference title game last season, he looked like a man on a mission, carrying the OSU offense to a double-digit victory that really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
Offensive line: A
Adam Lunt had some great notes about this on Twitter (follow him here; thread here) so two things: 1. I don’t admit to this being an original thought and 2. I have no clue what I’m talking about here. (That has never stopped me from writing, but I digress.) Anyway, the offensive line continues to look like a very solid top to bottom unit that is, somewhat surprisingly, rotating in seven players. I’d be curious to hear Mike Gundy’s thoughts about why this is — maybe it’s to prevent a dropoff if injuries were to occur like last season — but in any case, it has consistently opened holes for the running game and given time for Sanders to throw. Against a really, really good Baylor defensive line it held up very well. Give Charlie Dickey all the moneys!
Tom Hutton: A
In what has become a weekly staple in the report card, Tom Hutton surfaces once more as the MVP candidate of this team! He punted five times Saturday for an average of 41.8 yards per boot, with his longest going for 47. Four of the five punts were pinned inside the 20 yard line. He doesn’t have the strongest leg in the Big 12 — heck, he didn’t even have the strongest leg of the two punters on Saturday — but his directional punting and ability to pin teams back in negative territory continues to give OSU and its defense an edge. We’re reaching #Sinor4MVP level goodness from Hutton. I’m not saying a Heisman campaign should be started this week or anything; I’m actually saying it should have started like three weeks ago.
Fourth-down defense: A
Baylor converted thrice on its five fourth-down attempts, but the two? Yeah, the two stops for OSU’s defense were significant. One was early in the game with OSU stuffing Baylor at the 7 yard line; the other, of course, was a forced incompletion near the end of the third quarter that immediately led to OSU scoring a field goal to take a commanding 33-17 lead. Dave Aranda is very obviously #TeamGoForEverything and Mike Gundy is very obviously #TeamTakeThePoints, which was a fascinating dichotomy, and the latter’s mentality won over the former in a big way when it mattered most.
Jaden Nixon: A+
It’s possible that Jaden Nixon may never develop into an every-down back in the Big 12, but who the heck really cares? It’s clear he was a steal as a three-star recruit several years ago. His speed is a game-changer. His kickoff return TD to open the second half might have been the difference in the game honestly. The way he can turn a game on its head like that on special teams is a dynamic OSU has really lacked in recent years, so we gotta give Nixon an A+ here.
OSU secondary: C+
It’s not a great sign when Blake Shapen goes for 345 yards passing and the top receiver in the game gets 174 yards and two scores. That came on several big plays to possibly skew the stats, but it doesn’t seem as if the big plays are anomalous any longer. Probably time to admit: this defense is both pretty good and sometimes susceptible to giving up chunk plays in ways that it didn’t last season. The hope is that with time this season the secondary will improve and cut down on allowing those.
Read this original article at Pistols Firing Blog.