STILLWATER – Joseph Randle saw his breakout game against Arizona coming.
He always sees it coming.
“Oh, yeah,” Randle said after he ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns and caught a career-high nine passes for 99 yards. “I envision making plays when I go to sleep every night. I try to set some time aside to think about that every night. Monday night. Tuesday night. Any night.
“That's what I like to do, because I love football. And I like to make big plays.”
Like the 41-yard run on Oklahoma State's opening possession, setting up his first score — a Thurman Thomas-like dive over the top — to get the Cowboys off to a 7-0 lead.
Like the 63-yard romp on a screen pass, after he and quarterback Brandon Weeden read blitz in the fourth quarter, carrying all the way to the Wildcats 6, setting up a statement score that pushed OSU's lead to 34-7.
“If the ball is in my hands, I'm going to try to make a play,” Randle said.
And Randle is getting every opportunity, at least all he can handle. The Cowboys seemed headed for a time share at running back, with Randle and Jeremy Smith due equal billing. And Smith continues to produce, rushing for a touchdown in a sixth straight game Thursday night.
But Randle is the clear No. 1, and not just because of the number on his jersey.
And why not? Through two games in the run game, Randle is averaging 6.8 yards per carry, netting 250 yards with four touchdowns. And there's more — much more — with Randle a natural receiver, ranking only behind Justin Blackmon with 11 catches.
“I've probably played every skill position on offense through my life,” Randle said with a shrug. “It really ain't no different. Just catch the ball and run.”
Said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy: “He's very versatile. We can split him out and he runs routes.
“Not on this scale, but he reminds me of the guy who used to play for the Rams a few years ago, Marshall Faulk. I'm not saying he's as good as Faulk, so don't go quoting me on that. I'm just saying he does some of the same things.”
It seems inevitable at OSU that anytime a running back emerges to go with a pass-and-catch duo — which the Cowboys have in Weeden and Blackmon — that the term “Triplet” gets trotted out.
It may be inevitable that Randle will prompt such Triplet talk again.
The attention thrown upon Weeden and Blackmon is justified, obviously. But listen up for Randle.
“He's a special player, too,” said Arizona coach Mike Stoops. “He's a good one. Strong. Physical. That's where they wore us down.”
All this, it seems, is what Randle has been groomed for, starting way back when his father, Larry Randle Sr. coached him up back in Wichita, Kan.
That family influence is what motivates the Cowboy sophomore still.
“My dad calls me every morning at 6 o'clock, no matter what time I have to get up,” Randle said. “He calls me every morning, ‘Get up, I need you to go hard today.' Just motivation. And he literally calls me two or three times a day.
“You see, he's retired and he has time to do that. He'll be like, ‘Man, what you doing? You in class? Stay in the books.' That kind of stuff, all day.
“I don't want to let my family down.”