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OSU football: Growing number of injuries have become a concern for Cowboys

The best way to illustrate the hit Oklahoma State's depth is taking is junior Nick Rockwell, a former walk-on who has never caught a collegiate pass, is now a backup receiver.
BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, Published: October 15, 2012

STILLWATER — Mike Gundy said Sunday that it's possible he's never been the head coach of a team that got so banged up at one time.

Injuries, of course, aren't the only reason Oklahoma State sputtered Saturday against Kansas. But the growing number of hurt players, particularly at the offensive skill positions, in recent weeks has become an issue for the Cowboys.

The recent injury list now includes starting wide receivers Tracy Moore (ankle) and Isaiah Anderson (finger), who both left the game against the Jayhawks. Running back Jeremy Smith (ankle) got just one carry against KU, and fellow back Desmond Roland didn't play, apparently because of an injury. Neither did backup receiver John Goodlett and No. 1 punt returner David Glidden.

Not to mention, starting quarterback Wes Lunt has not played in a game in more than a month after injuring his left knee against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15.

“We had a number of guys (Saturday) that really couldn't help us in the game,” Gundy said. “I don't remember a time when we have been in that situation — maybe not ever during my time as the head coach.”

The best illustration of the shrinking depth? Junior Nick Rockwell, a former walk-on who has never caught a pass in a college game, is now listed as a backup inside receiver.

“(The young quarterbacks) need as many weapons at their disposal that they can have,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “If you had Brandon (Weeden) here, that'd be different. Those guys make other players around them better.

“I think our guys are getting better, but you only have so many bullets. You only have so many guys that can make a difference in the game.”

Every college football team gets hit by injuries at some point. Heck, the Cowboys didn't completely escape them last season, as starting receiver Hubert Anyiam was lost for the season in October with a broken foot, while starting receiver Josh Cooper and Smith both missed time.

But the 2012 Cowboys don't feature the same amount of elite talent and depth as the 2011 squad.

“We had more O-linemen to rotate in, we had more skill guys to rotate in,” Monken said. “We had a first-round pick quarterback (Weeden) and a first-round pick wideout (Justin Blackmon), so it's easier to overcome some of those.”

Monken points out that the depth really started to take hits during the offseason, when the Cowboys lost three key offensive players in receiver Michael Harrison, running back Herschel Sims and offensive lineman Michael Bowie. Harrison was suspended for the 2012 season by the NCAA and decided to leave the football program. Sims was dismissed in June, days before he was charged with two felony counts of second-degree forgery for allegedly stealing the ID card and taking $700 out of the bank account of linebacker Jeremiah Tshimanga. Bowie transferred to Northeastern State after violating team rules at OSU.

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