STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's receivers keep going missing.
Arguably the Cowboys' best playmakers — and frankly, any argument against them would be a difficult debate — that position group might make up the most skilled and athletic group of assets on the team.
Week to week, it's been a struggle to get the receivers the ball.
Tracy Moore, Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd, Charlie Moore … they've had moments.
Blake Jackson, Austin Hays and Blake Webb have had their production and availability hampered by injuries.
Even Josh Stewart, a returning All-Big 12 receiver who totaled 101 catches a year ago, has been dynamic at times, yet also forced into hiding some Saturdays.
On pace for just 63 receptions this season, Stewart was lost and not found last week at Iowa State, rarely targeted and finishing with but three grabs for 10 yards. Against Kansas State, he caught two passes.
The trip to Ames also revealed OSU's worst passing day — 78 yards — since the 2009 Bedlam game, when an injury-riddled Zac Robinson threw for just 47 yards in a 27-0 loss. And that dreary day for the Cowboys in Norman was pre-Air Raid.
These days, as far as the receivers are concerned, it's more like Air Rust.
The reasons behind OSU's disjointed passing game are varied:
* A revolving door at quarterback and running back, due to ineffectiveness.
* Offensive line unrest, due to injuries and illnesses.
* A new offensive coordinator.
Is there a fix?
“The passing game is there, and we have the confidence in it,” said senior wideout Charlie Moore. “It's just turning it on this week.
“We're going to have a good game plan and keep practicing like we have been and know that at anytime, the passing game can rise up. There's nothing we have to work on that we haven't worked on.
“It will come. We're not worried about it.”
Oh, there's plenty of concern.
“We need to throw the football better — period,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy.
And with a backloaded schedule that includes a trip to Texas Tech this weekend, another road game at Texas and home dates with Baylor and Oklahoma, a re-emergence of the passing game can't happen soon enough.
“We're all trying to make sure we're doing whatever we can do to win football games,” said OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “Obviously, offensive productivity wants to increase, and we're all striving towards that. Really, all you have to do is work hard and be dedicated in what you do and put your best foot forward.
“We all have the same goals. We're all in it together.”
The Red Raiders are focused on OSU's receivers, too, recognizing them as key to Saturday's outcome.
“Can't let those guys run free in space,” said Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. “Stewart is one of the best in the country, and he's a guy who makes plays for them each and every week. Got to know where he's at at all times.”
Cowboys quarterbacks would like to locate Stewart, and his pals, as well.
The Red Raiders boast one of the nation's top passing attacks, fueling a unit that ranks No. 3 in passing offense, No. 5 in total offense and No. 18 in scoring offense.
Typically, that's been an offensive neighborhood where the Cowboys have resided. And they recognize the importance in getting back there.
“If you look at the opponent we're playing this week, they're scoring and they've been effective in throwing the football,” Gundy said. “There's three phases in a game, we all know that. At some point, we have to match them where their strength is.”