The Oklahoman's OSU beat writer Gina Mizell took questions from readers in today's Power Lunch Chat. Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11:30 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here's a look at today's Q&A.
What are your thoughts on Tracy Moore? Is he likely done for the year?
I don't think the coaches/medical staff necessarily know the answer to that question yet. Gundy told us Monday that he was initially going to have surgery, which almost surely would have put him out for the rest of the season, but then they decided he didn't need it. Still, him being on crutches last week certainly wasn't a good sign, and I don't expect to see him anytime soon. And at this point in the season, he kind of needs to be back "soon" in order for him to play again this year. The interesting catch, though, is he would be eligible for a medical redshirt if the injury does turn out to be a season-ender. Whether he would take it and come back another year is an entirely different question.
The Cowboys have a great history of punters and kickers ... with Quinn Sharp being the latest example (and one of the best in school history). Who's on deck to take the role next?
No question it's been a huge factor as of late ... with Matt Fodge and Dan Bailey and now Sharp. Bobby Stonebreaker at kicker and Michael Reichenstein are the backups right now. A name I'd still potentially look out for is Kip Smith. He transferred this semester from UCLA. Not on the official roster, but still on campus, as far as I know. Thanks for reminding me to ask about him, by the way.
I haven't heard Shaun Lewis' name called as much this year as last, have the other linebackers kept him off the field some, or am I just not watching closely enough?
I actually think Shaun Lewis has had a pretty solid year. He was very good against Texas, in particular, if I remember correctly. But Lyndell Johnson is his backup, so he's been rotated in there quite a bit, and I don't see that changing because of what LJ brings to the table. Lewis is better against the run and at rushing the QB, while Johnson is better in pass coverage.
I don't know how much you keep up with OSU basketball, but was Cobbins' injury last night serious? Also, what did you think of the newcomers?
I was not at the game last night — John Helsley was. Cobbins' injury was his big toe, and Ford was kind of "we'll see" about it. After Brian Williams' injury, and Jurik and Olukemi coming off injuries, you certainly don't want another one. But it didn't seem to be too serious. I think Smart is going to be a star and fill up the stat sheet. Sounds like Forte shot the ball extremely well. I'll be at the season-opener next week and will have better thoughts then.
Do you expect to see Torrance Carr produce any by the end of the season? I would think with the lack of depth at WR he would be seeing the field more.
I'm actually surprised we haven't seen him more, too. I suppose the injury in preseason camp set him back more than expected. There isn't a lot of depth at IR right now, with Blake Webb and Nick Rockwell moving to the outside to help make up for the loss of Tracy Moore. It's pretty much just Josh Stewart and Blake Jackson at those spots right now, with a little John Goodlett (who's also coming off injury) mixed in. Carr has played a bit but hasn't yet recorded a catch. Maybe that changes Saturday.
How many turnovers will the Cowboys force on Saturday against Kansas State? How big of a factor will that be in the game?
It'll be huge. The turnovers have started to come for the OSU defense over the past couple games, with three forced against TCU last week. That's the goal for the Cowboys each game, and it finally came in Game 7. But Klein, literally, hasn't turned the ball over in Big 12 play. And what makes K-State so successful is it simply doesn't make mistakes. OSU will have to force them into bad situations, and turnovers can certainly do that. I'd say OSU needs at least 2 or 3 Saturday. It won't be easy.
No love from the collective media for the Cowboys this weekend (understandably), but what's the team's tone as they approach the game?
Seemed pretty upbeat in talking to everyone earlier this week. The players have a ton of respect for Collin Klein, Bill Snyder and this team. And they should. But they're also feeling confident about how they're playing, particularly on defense. This Wildcat team will obviously be their toughest test, but they'll go up to Manhattan feeling like they're prepared to play a great football team.
What needs to happen tomorrow night in the little apple for Oklahoma State to pull the upset?
Touched on a bit of it just above — I think turnovers will be huge. The front seven will need to play very well to contain Klein. The Cowboys will have to run the ball. And special teams, particularly the return game, is something Gundy really stressed this week. Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson are fantastic on kick and punt returns. Lockett was outstanding in that area in Stillwater last season. Quinn Sharp is going to need to boom touchbacks and good punts that force Thompson to move backward before catching the ball.
Which OSU defensive player is most responsible for slowing down Klein and the K-State running game?
As mentioned above, the front seven will be huge. I think Calvin Barnett can be a difference-maker in plugging the middle, and he obviously wasn't here last year. The defensive ends can't over-pursue Klein when rushing off the edge, and the tackles need to stay in front of him. It sounds cliche, but the linebackers need to play assignment football and stay in their gaps. Klein and Hubert aren't the only ones that make this rushing attack go. The offensive line does a great job of opening holes, which allows Klein to be patient and find the right spot to go. Big, big test for the OSU front seven.
Is Jeremy Smith likely to play a bigger role this weekend?
I think so. His practice load was scheduled to increase this week, and it was obviously a great sign that he got more than one carry — instead of limping off the field after the only time he touched the ball like he did against Kansas and Iowa State. Joseph Randle should be commended for being a workhorse the past few games, but the Cowboys want him and Smith splitting carries. And Smith obviously brings an extra toughness and dimension to the offense that had been missed.
Is there a stat of yards/defender carried? Blake Jackson would own that stat.
He probably would. Dude needs to learn to corral the ball correctly, though.
What is the likelihood of the Cowboys duplicating the results of the game that arguably put OSU on the road to success, 10/11/2008 against Missouri, in Columbia, who was ranked #3 at the time? Beat them 28-23. OSU was flying underneath the radar then, and don't expect KSU to take the Cowboys lightly, but could happen. K-State fans, no matter how humble the talk, are thinking of the possibility of playing in the MNC game. Living in KC I hear all the talk, they are excited.
Berry wrote about this very subject earlier this week. I obviously wasn't here in 2008. I also think this K-State team is better than that Mizzou team. But I'd check BT's blog for his thoughts.
What help can we expect from some of OSU's young receivers? Haven't seen much of Brandon Sheperd.
Austin Hays has been the main youngster who has contributed, moving into a starting role. C.J. Curry is obviously out for the season with a shoulder injury. Blake Webb has played some. Sales is almost surely going to be redshirted. Sheperd is a guy who I know coaches think has potential, but Hays has been the most ready to play. Maybe that changes down the stretch with several banged-up receivers.
Any impact to Barnett playing in the game after he got another traffic ticket?
Considering the incident happened before the TCU game, I would be pretty surprised if he didn't play. Then again, Tracy Moore was never charged with a crime and was suspended for the SSU game. OSU had no comment when I asked earlier in the week. I'd expect him to be out there.
Looking at KSU's schedule: one great win (at OU). Other wins are either marginal or no big deal. At WV seemed huge, but diminishing. I'm still not sold on TT — maybe they're for real. Miami has had a tough schedule, but don't seem to be world beaters. Perhaps KSU overrated? Maybe time for the mistakes to start happening? Or wishful thinking on my part?
Eh. There aren't many teams that have a resume of winning in Norman, Morgantown and Ames and beating a top-15 team at home. K-State is for real. Not necessarily unbeatable, but for real.
I read KSU has the best starting field position average in the country this year (their own 40). You just mentioned their good returners. Perhaps Quinn Sharp will have something to say about that in this game, forcing KSU to march the full length of the field.
Sharp can be a huge weapon, for sure. Again, Lockett can't return kicks if they go out of the end zone. We've seen him boom 70-yard punts. Gundy mentioned how the yards of field position gained on returns are often overlooked, but can really impact the game. OSU will need to force its own breaks like that to win this game.