By Anthony Slater – firstname.lastname@example.org - @anthonyVslater
He’s always been known as a bruiser, punishing linebackers near the goal line and a terror to bring down in the open field. But as he moves forward, with the NFL in his sights, he wants to be more than that.
“I believe I’ve changed a little bit,” Smith said. “Especially with the cuts I’m making. That’s just one thing I was focusing on in the summer…You should (see some different kind of running).”
In theory, it seems like a positive for Oklahoma State. One of its key weapons is adding additional layers to his game.
But offensive coordinator Todd Monken, unfiltered as always, doesn’t necessarily see it that way.
“Too many moves,” Monken said of Smith. “He just needs to run and go downhill. That is true, Jeremy is working all these moves and he’s not a move guy. He’s a downhill, one cut guy. He needs to just go. Now do I think he wants to develop as an open-field guy? Of course. That’s what all running backs want to do. What makes Jeremy what he is, ‘I run downhill, I get my pads down, I break tackles and I’m a one-cut guy’…You are who you are. That is what you are, be damn good at that.”
But Smith has shown growth in another area — pass-catching — that Monken is happy about.
“He’s gotten a lot better (catching the ball),” Monken said. “We’ll see how that translates over…I think he’s really worked at it and gotten a lot better at understanding catching the ball in space where the quarterback can find him.”
Last year, Smith struggled in limited receiving duties, often relegated to the bench on passing downs in favor of the versatile Joseph Randle.
But when Randle struggled, fumbling twice against Iowa State, Smith’s complete game was needed.
And late in the second half of a tight game, Brandon Weeden dumped two check-down screens to Smith, who dropped both. OSU would eventually lose to Iowa State in overtime.
“Those things are really critical,” Smith said. “To the naked eye, they don’t seem like a big deal, but it is. There’s gonna be a play or two in the game, there was last year, you go in some of those games and you dump it down. He doesn’t catch it and then you punt. Or instead of third-and-short it’s third-and-long. Critical, critical plays, but he’s gotten a lot better.”