By John Helsley
Looking back and forth at key items in Cowboys sports:
1) Grand Introductions. With Kendall Hunter, Dez Bryant, Perrish Cox and Jermiah Price on the sidelines in jean shorts Saturday night, we wondered where the fizz would come from in a game against Grambling. We found it in unexpected places. Wideout Dameron Fooks and tailback Jeremy Smith were superb. And while we consider the competition, we also like what we saw in two potential playmakers going forward.
2) The DL. College football doesn’t use a DL – disabled list – yet the aforementioned injured players were clearly on the shelf last week. And question remains about their availability when Big 12 Conference play opens next weekend. The Cowboys have come a long way in adding depth, but Bryant, Cox and Hunter represent three of the team’s core players. They’ll be needed at Texas A&M.
3) Backup Plan. Most of us wanted a look at OSU’s backup quarterbacks, Alex Cate and Brandon Weeden. We saw both, although in a mixed bag. Cate suffered a head injury on his first play and didn’t return. Weeden stepped in and played well, throwing his first career touchdown passes. In doing so, he climbed into the No. 2 quarterback role after a tightly contested battle for the job that spanned the spring and preseason.
4) High Stepping. The Grambling band proved as good as advertised, delivering their brand of flair to the halftime festivities. The band had some fun, playing and dancing through a Michael Jackson tribute that featured “Thriller.” Felt sorry for the OSU band, which had to follow the Grambling outfit onto the field.
5) Crowd Count. OSU didn’t get the sellout it was seeking, but the crowd of 59,000-plus still made for a record attendance in Stillwater. Next in the sellout crosshairs: Texas on Halloween. Isn’t that a spooky thought?
1) Down Time. This is my ninth season overall as a beat writer on Cowboys football. In all those years, I can’t recall a team that needed an open week as much as these Pokes. Not only are they battling the injuries to missing stars, there are several Cowboys who have been playing banged and bruised.
2) A&M-Arkansas. When the Aggies and Hogs collide in Jerry Jones’ new stadium, it will provide a revealing look at A&M. In a second season rebuild job under coach Mike Sherman, the Aggies are 3-0, yet have played nothing but cream puffs — New Mexico, Utah State and UAB. Arkansas, 1-2, isn’t great, yet represents a major upgrade over those other slackers. We’ll soon know whether the Aggies are imposing or imposters with OSU due in College Station.
3) Safety First. Cardinals coaches have raved about their two-deep at safety, with Lucien Antoine, Victor Johnson, Johnny Thomas and Markelle Martin giving the Cowboys their best collection of talent at the spots in recent memory. So far, due to injuries and suspensions, we haven’t seen much of them in the same game. With them all in play, the Pokes will be better on defense.
4) Uncommon Road. The game at A&M is OSU’s first away from the Pickens Palace this season. Kyle Field is not a comforting place to play, so it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys respond.
5) Zac Looks Back. OSU’s last trip to Kyle Field didn’t go so well for Zac Robinson, who was early in his role as the Cowboys’ starting QB. Robinson led OSU to an early lead, then was lost to a concussion and the Aggies rallied to win with him out. Still, he considers College Station one of his favorite places to play.