STILLWATER — Justin Gilbert knows the challenge facing Oklahoma State this weekend.
He faced some of it already.
Back in high school, the Cowboy defensive back ran track against Missouri running back Henry Josey. Gilbert was at Huntsville High, and Josey was at Angleton High, and the last time they met was in the 100 meters at regionals senior year.
Gilbert's time: 10.50 seconds.
Josey's: 10.52 seconds.
“He was complaining after the race, talking about my legs and how I had a long stride,” Gilbert said.
He chuckled at his perceived advantage.
“He's very fast.”
Very good, too.
Josey headlines a talented but unheralded group of skill players at Missouri. They're not as known as the guys at Texas A&M. They're not as ballyhooed as the fellows at Texas. But they are the Tigers' best chance to pull a huge upset against the Cowboys.
And yes, they are good enough to get it done.
I have seen these guys in person — I covered Missouri's 38-28 loss at Oklahoma — and they were more impressive than expected. They rolled up 532 yards on the Sooners and averaged 7.1 yards a play.
Truth be told, Missouri's skill players are on par with any team that OSU has faced this season.
Compare them with the Texas skill guys, a group that is fresh in everyone's memory, and you'll see just how dangerous Missouri could be.
Missouri quarterback James Franklin is more refined than his Texas counterpart, David Ash. When the season started, Franklin looked a bit out of his league, but every week, he looks more and more comfortable. Saturday against Iowa State, the sophomore threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
Sure, it was Iowa State, but those are some stout numbers, regardless of opponent.
At running back, Josey hasn't been as celebrated as Texas freshman Malcolm Brown — he gashed OSU for 135 yards Saturday — but Josey has been more productive. The sophomore leads the Big 12 with 717 yards rushing and 119.5 yards rushing a game, one of only three backs in the league who averages more than a hundred.
At wide receiver, Texas doesn't have anyone as productive as T.J. Moe. The Missouri senior is often forgotten in a league that is rich in receiver talent, but he is something of a poor man's Wes Welker. He catches everything that comes his way. He knows how to pick up yards after the catch. He just makes plays.