Howdy from DFW!
Apparently, it’s really tough to get hotel rooms in College Station, so we drove halfway today and will finish off the trip tomorrow.
Wanted to take some time to answer some questions I didn’t get to in yesterday’s Power Lunch chat. There were a lot of great ones, and it’s easy to sense the excitement surrounding tomorrow’s OSU-Texas A&M game. Let’s get to it.
What will it take to win in College Station?
These sound like cliché keys—starting fast and limiting mistakes/turnovers. But they’re cliché because they really are ways to take the crowd out of the game. OSU started terribly on offense last year against A&M (three punts and two turnovers in the first quarter) and trailed 14-0 after the first period. That won’t fly in College Station. Defensively, if OSU can establish itself along the line early, whether it’s by stopping the run or getting pressure on Ryan Tannehill, that will be huge.
Who will be the impact players on offense? On defense?
I expect the usual suspects to make big plays for the Cowboys on both sides of the ball. But I wrote about Joseph Randle for our pregame package for a reason. This will be his chance to show that he’s one of the conference’s most dangerous weapons on offense—both in the run game and as a receiver. And I expect him to have a huge game because he can have an impact in so many ways. Defensively, if Alex Elkins is back healthy, which I expect him to be, that should provide a big lift to the Cowboys’ front seven.
Over/under: 100 yards and a touchdown for Justin Blackmon?
Over on the yards, push on the touchdowns. Expect Blackmon to have a solid bounce-back game after Tulsa broke his streak for 100-yard receiving games. He’ll be hungry.
What’s your uniform prediction?
I’ve been pretty terrible at this so far this season. I still find it a bit crazy that the Cowboys have yet to wear the orange top or pants. My gut says white top and orange pants, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see all white.
Who has shined the brightest so far this season?
I answered a similar question in a video last week, and my answer hasn’t changed very much. On offense, I expected Weeden and Blackmon to be great, but I didn’t expect Randle to be this good already. On defense, I expected Shaun Lewis and Markelle Martin to be the leaders, but Elkins and Daytawion Lowe have been pleasant surprises.
Was the run defense really good against Louisiana-Lafayette and Arizona, or was that just bad competition?
A little of both, I think. Arizona’s Keola Antolin is a solid back, but the Wildcats’ offensive line was inexperienced. ULL is, well, ULL. Regardless, the Cowboys did a good job against those teams. Neither Mike Gundy nor Bill Young was happy about the 365 rushing yards given up against Tulsa, but a large chunk of those yards came after the game was already well in hand. It was also somewhere around 2:30 a.m. Still, the rush defense will need to be better Saturday, because the Aggies have one of the best backfield combos the Cowboys will face this season.
Now that you’ve been here for a while, where are some of your favorite places to eat in Stillwater?
I’m already a huge fan of Hideaway—been there four times in a month. That pizza is simply delicious. I also went to Mom’s Place for breakfast about a week ago and thought it was a neat local joint. Huge portions, good food, nice waitresses and great people watching. I’m a sucker for good breakfast and the greasy spoon vibe. I know I’ll be back.
And another food question…
Since you used to live in Texas, any recommendations on where to eat in College Station?
Unfortunately, College Station is about three hours west of Beaumont, so I’m not familiar with the area at all. I have been to Kyle Field once—to cover a high school football playoff game last season—but I ate at an Applebees before the game. My guess is that’s not what you’re looking for. Sorry!
What have you enjoyed most about covering OSU so far?
Mostly just getting to know the players, coaches and other people from the athletic department and university. It’s a good group of folks and I’ve been treated well. It’s nice when people start to recognize you, feel more comfortable around you and open up more and more during interviews. I feel like I’m building the relationships that are necessary to tell good stories. And, of course, it’s just fun to be around the excitement surrounding this program. To say I’ve had a blast so far would be a huge understatement.
Thanks again for all the questions in the Power Lunch chat. Keep checking back here tomorrow for all your game day coverage, and don’t forget to follow @OSUGameDay on Twitter. Should be an entertaining game at Kyle Field.