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OSU tailback Kendall Hunter isn't Barry Sanders, but he's close

The Cowboys' opener against Washington State was supposed to launch the Dana Holgorsen era. Instead, it was a Hunter revival. And Sanders' single-game record would have been in danger if Mike Gundy hadn't held back Hunter.
by Berry Tramel Modified: September 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm •  Published: September 4, 2010

STILLWATER — Please don't misunderstand. Please.

I'm not saying Kendall Hunter is the second coming of Barry Sanders, although you could get the majority of Wazzu Cougars to endorse such a proposal.

Hunter is not Sanders, primarily because no human ever has been or will be. But Hunter is the closest thing to Sanders the Cowboys have had since that magic year of 1988.

The stop-and-start engine. The now-you-have-me-now-you-don't moves. The deceptive speed, which seems fast only if you're the one chasing.

Of all the great Oklahoma State tailbacks since Sanders, Hunter comes closest to a match. And Hunter never has looked more like Sanders than he did Saturday night.

Hunter carved up Washington State with 257 yards on 21 carries, playing only two quarters plus one possession of OSU's 65-17 rout at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Give Hunter just the rest of the third quarter, and he obliterates Sanders' school record of 332 rushing yards in a game.

OSU coach Mike Gundy took pity on WSU and went into protection mode — looking out for Hunter's health and his old tailback's record.

"I am protecting him a little bit," Gundy cracked of Sanders. "See if he'll buy a club-level suite."

This game was supposed to be the launch of the Dana Holgorsen era. Instead, it became a Hunter revival.

The senior tailback looked like the first-team all-American from 2008, not the injury-frustrated junior from 2009. Only better.

Hunter scooted 17 yards on his first carry and never slowed. He had six carries of at least 17 yards and scored four touchdowns.

Yes, Washington State stinks. But this still was a Pac-10 team; this is what a great tailback should do to an overmatched defense. And make no mistake, Hunter is a great tailback.

"I ain't never seen anything like that," Holgorsen said. "That was pretty special."

Holgorsen said he's made only one promise in his eight months in Stillwater: if something's working, don't stop doing it.

So don't expect the Cowboys to lighten the load on Hunter, even though we've been crowing about Holgorsen's new-age offense.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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