STILLWATER — Houston is promoting quarterback Kevin Kolb for the Heisman Trophy. They know his chances are slim because he plays for a low-profile program in Conference USA, but his skills, according to Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, are on par. "His stats are comparable to Brady Quinn at Notre Dame," said Bedford, who is trying to devise a game plan to stymie the Cougars' high-powered passing attack. "He's a big quarterback, with a good arm, very mobile, very accurate. If you put this kid at Notre Dame, he'd be doing the same things that Brady Quinn has been doing for Notre Dame." Kolb is the NCAA's active leader in career passing yards, completions and total offense. He will be a big test for OSU's new-look secondary. Junior cornerback Martel Van Zant started the final four games last season. Junior Donovan Woods started five games at free safety after switching from quarterback to defense in mid-season. Sophomore Jacob Lacey made one career start last year. Andre Sexton is a redshirt freshman who sat out last season with a broken forearm. True freshman Perrish Cox was playing high school football in Waco, Texas. "We're better in the secondary but (Kolb) has been in that system for six years," said assistant head coach Joe DeForest. "It's a big challenge. The big thing is to tackle in space. They throw it, catch it and try to make you miss." A starter since the day he stepped on campus, Kolb has made 39 career starts, thrown for 10,035 yards and tossed 63 touchdowns passes compared to 28 interceptions. "When you play a quarterback who has a chance to play in the NFL, you're in for a real challenge," said OSU coach Mike Gundy. "He can throw it. He understands the game. "Kolb probably is as knowledgeable about football at this level as anybody in the country." The Cowboys have struggled at times against passing teams, especially offenses like Houston's that spread the field to try and exploit one-on-one matchups. If OSU's inexperienced secondary holds its own against arguably the most talented quarterback it will face all season, it could build confidence for the remainder of the season. "We feel we have a lot of talent back there," Sexton said. "It will be interesting. We need the defensive line to help us and get some pressure. He's a very good quarterback but we're up for the challenge." OSU's veteran defensive line has dominated three overmatched opponents. The Cowboys have recorded 12 sacks and 31 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, which ranks third nationally. Bedford, though, said it's difficult to pressure Kolb. "He reads coverages well, he moves around the pocket, he doesn't panic and can throw the ball on the run," Bedford said. "What helps him is with all those formations, he's able to keep the pressure from getting there because it slows down the defensive line." Houston (3-0) runs some option to force defensive ends to play run first before rushing the passer. The Cougars run 20 different formations. "We can't let them get into a rhythm," said defensive end Nathan Peterson. "Their offense is designed to make you think too much. We might not be as aggressive as you would want. It comes down to assignment football and everyone doing their job."
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Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb, left, is swarmed by Oklahoma’s Jonathan Jackson during a Sept. 11, 2004, game. THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE
OSU vs. Houston
Kevin Kolb year-by-year
Kevin Kolb vs. BCS schoolsHouston quarterback Kevin Kolb has struggled against major conference schools. He has just two wins in nine meetings — both over Mississippi State. 2005
|Miss. St. (W)||20-29-0||218||1|
|Miami Fla. (L)||11-28-0||153||0|
|Miss. St. (W)||20-29-0||321||4|