STILLWATER – Todd Monken placed Josh Stewart among elite company Saturday.
After Stewart went off with 13 catches, 172 yards and two touchdowns and added another score on a reverse in OSU's 55-34 win over West Virginia, Monken copped to a game plan tilted on getting the sophomore receiver the football.
“It's like with Justin Blackmon, when you've got a good player, you've got to find ways to get it to him,” Monken said.
Like Blackmon? Has Stewart elevated himself to that level, the level of Blackmon, a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner?
Not so fast, Monken said, calling time out on that thought.
But for this team, in its current state of revolving quarterbacks and wounded receivers, Stewart is the closest thing to a go-to guy in the passing game.
And the Cowboys are going to him. Often.
“We're moving him around. We're trying like hell to get him the ball,” Monken said. “That's pretty obvious. We have certain things triggered for him. When you have a good player, they know it's coming, but you can't stop getting it to him.
“You can't just say, ‘Well, we can't.' No, you have to, because they're the guys who can make plays to help you win.”
Statistically at least, Stewart has elevated himself.
Only three Cowboys – Blackmon, Dez Bryant and Rashaun Woods – have posted better sophomore seasons for receiving yards than Stewart's 838 to date. That's elite company by any definition.
Stewart passed another great, Hart Lee Dykes, on Saturday. And he still has three games plus a bowl yet to play.
“We've got so many receivers down, we need receivers to step up,” Stewart said after matching his career high for catches and setting a personal high for yards. “When my number is called, I've got to make a play. That's motivation.”
Stewart leads the Cowboys in yards, receptions (69) and receiving yards per game (93.1).
Over the past four games, with Tracy Moore lost to injury and Isaiah Anderson rendered inefficient by injury, Stewart has totaled 40 catches for 473 yards.
“He's a good guy to get the ball to,” said Cowboys quarterback Clint Chelf, who in his first start found repeated comfort in Stewart. “He was open a lot so I kept throwing the ball to him.”