Last week, I asked Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy the following question:
“If I would have told you in April that Charlie Moore, Ashton Lampkin and Caleb Muncrief would return punts for you in Game 1, what would you have said?”
I won’t repeat his exact response, but it involved him suspecting that I had spent too much time enjoying myself on The Strip.
Finding the Cowboys’ replacement for Josh Cooper at punt returner has been a bit of an adventure. Prime candidate David Glidden has been hurt since the end of the spring. Josh Stewart couldn’t hold onto the ball in the spring finale. Moore, Lampkin and Muncrief were late additions in the role during the preseason. When I wrote about Moore earning the top spot at this position a couple weeks ago, Lampkin and Muncrief didn’t even make my list of other possible candidates.
“Sometimes I didn’t know,” Gundy said. “They’d send somebody out there and I thought, ‘Oh, well that will be neat. We’ll get to watch them.’ It’s just been quite a ride.”
Moore was the only player to return a punt against Arizona. But he simply did not look comfortable, often letting the ball bounce in front of him and essentially diving on it. He finished with three returns for nine yards.
Gundy said last week that he liked what he saw out of Lampkin and Muncrief against Savannah State. But, as we’ve learned, that game wasn’t really a great way to gauge anything. And with a shortened rotation against Arizona, neither got a chance to return.
Once Glidden returns from injury, which could be as soon as this week, it will be interesting what the Cowboy coaching staff does. Allow Moore additional time to get comfortable in a role he didn’t even play in high school? Or throw a guy back there who has never played in a college game? Let one of the true freshmen try it out again?