STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Coach Mike Gundy says Daxx Garman really has been improving as Oklahoma State's quarterback.

Despite the fact that Garman threw for only 158 yards last Saturday and that he has just two touchdowns and seven interceptions over the last four contests, Gundy believes he has gotten better over that timeframe.

That's because the Cowboys (5-5, 3-4 in Big 12), who have lost four straight by a combined margin of 152-40, have had a very difficult time this season protecting Garman with an inexperienced offensive line. Over the last two weeks, he has been sacked 11 times, including seven in a 28-7 loss to Texas last Saturday.

"His decision-making in the last game was the best it's been," Gundy said Monday of Garman, who completed 17 of 29 passes with a touchdown and an interception. "He had three bad passes. He also had several plays where the protection broke down and he got out of the pocket and made plays. He was productive as a player. We have to evaluate him on, 'What are the opportunities he has to be productive?' Some plays, he didn't have the chance to be productive, so you can't give him a minus."

Garman sparkled when he replaced injured starter J.W. Walsh back on Sept. 6, completing 16 of 26 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in three quarters of work that first game, a 40-23 win over Missouri State. He followed that up with back-to-back 300-plus yard games. And after passing for 271 yards with a touchdown Oct. 4 against Iowa State, Garman had nine TDs and just four interceptions in four games, all victories.

One of the keys was his ability to throw an accurate deep ball, completing 17 passes of 25 or more yards in those first four outings. Since then, though, he's connected on just six such passes, attempting much fewer.

That is partially due to opposing teams being better prepared for it, as well as the Cowboys' O-line not being able to block better opponents long enough. Not being able to count on those passes has left the offense struggling.

After squeaking out a win over Kansas, they lost big to ranked Big 12 rivals TCU, West Virginia and Kansas State before facing Texas last week, with Garman surpassing 200 yards passing just once , on Oct. 25 against West Virginia.

"I think a lot of defenses that we're facing now will play off us," said offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. "They know that our ability to score sometimes revolves around the deep ball. The corners are playing a little softer, free safeties are playing a little bit deeper."

With Walsh apparently out for the season with his foot injury, the coaching staff really has never considered taking Garman out. His backup is true freshman Mason Rudolph, whom Gundy has wanted to keep off the field so he can maintain his redshirt status.

If Garman was injured, as he briefly appeared to be against Texas after he was sacked on back to back plays late in the second quarter, then Rudolph would likely step in and burn through his redshirt year.

"You have to do what's best for the team, first and foremost," Yurcich said. "We have a plan in place to make sure that we're doing that. If one guy goes down, we have the next one ready to go."