It didn't take long for linebacker Alex Elkins to channel his rugby skills on the football field at Oklahoma State.
On Elkins' third-quarter fumble recovery against Louisiana-Lafayette, he started at the top of the pile and forced his way down to the bottom to corral the football.
“I told (Elkins) he looked like a rugby player,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “He kind of laughed and said there's actually some rugby involved in that.”
Elkins was a rugby player in high school that only started playing football after attending an open tryout at Blinn Junior College. In his OSU debut, he tallied six tackles while starting at weakside linebacker.
“He made some mistakes, but he made them going 100 miles an hour,” Gundy said. “We mentioned in our team meeting earlier, as long as you play with effort like he does, then you'll get to play a lot of football at Oklahoma State.
“There's times he ran across the field chasing the ball and passed everybody on the field.”
RANDLE STRIVING FOR CONSISTENCY
Joseph Randle proved he can thrive as Oklahoma State's No. 1 running back Saturday against ULL, carrying the ball 22 times for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
The next task for Randle is to show he can consistently handle the load for an entire season. That, of course, only comes with going through a full 13-game schedule.
“It's a challenge as the season progresses from fatigue, and obviously, the hits,” Gundy said. “He ran the ball well (Saturday) night and he showed some endurance. We were able to keep him fresh with Jeremy (Smith) and Kye (Staley).”
Randle said he is not concerned about the physical aspect of being the featured back.
“(I'll) just do what I've been doing my whole life,” he said. “I've never had to really sit out of any games for injury. Go hard every play, and you probably won't get hurt.”
GUNDY WANTS MORE ON SHORT-YARDAGE, GOAL-LINE PLAYS
OSU continued its success in the red zone Saturday, converting all 10 chances inside the ULL 20-yard line into points after leading the nation in red zone efficiency last season.
Still, Gundy called the Cowboys' performance in goal-line and short-yardage situations “average.” OSU sometimes implemented more tight end sets on those plays, something that Gundy said the Cowboys could continue to do.
“It's something that we want to have in our offense to continue to get better in those situations,” Gundy said. “I think we have the personnel that gives us the chance to have success in those formations.”
OSU settled for Quinn Sharp field goals inside the ULL 10-yard line three times Saturday, once because the first-half clock was about to expire.
ARIZONA UPDATE: JURON CRINER WILL NOT PLAY
Arizona star wide receiver Juron Criner missed his second consecutive practice due to an undisclosed illness Tuesday and did not make the trip for Thursday's game against OSU, according to a story at WildcatSportsReport.com.
Criner, one of the top receivers in the nation, had six catches for 151 yards and a touchdown in UA's 41-10 victory over Northern Arizona on Saturday.
FANS CAN MEET FOWLER, OSU BASKETBALL TEAM THURSDAY
Fans that arrive early for Thursday's game against Arizona will have a chance to meet the OSU men's basketball team and former Cowboy golf standout Rickie Fowler.
The men's basketball team will be shooting hoops at the northeast corner of Boone Pickens Stadium from 4:45-6 p.m. and will be available for autographs and photos. Giveaways at the event will include an autographed basketball and a four-pack of season tickets for the 2011-12 season.
Fowler will be part of the KICKER Gameday Big Air Bash with professional freestyle motocross rider “Cowboy” Kenny Bartram, which will be held just north of Boone Pickens Stadium on Hall of Fame Ave. from 5:30-6 p.m.
Bartram will perform a series of jumps with his “Steel Rodeo” riders, and Fowler, the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, will sign autographs for 15 minutes following the event.