Then on OSU’s next drive, Roland ripped off a highlight-worthy scamper, which featured him breaking four tackles — one of those coming on a spin move — and following his blockers down the sideline for a 58-yard score.
OSU coach Mike Gundy said he was most curious to see how durable Roland could be while handling the bulk of the workload. But after 26 carries, Gundy was ready to compare Roland’s tough, downhill style to another bulldozer who used to man the backfield for the Cowboys.
“Keith Toston used to get better as the game went on,” Gundy said, “and I’m hoping that Des Roland proved he’s a guy that can gain momentum, and his strength allows him to get better as the game goes on. Maybe that’s a good sign for our team.”
The OSU running game overall showed plenty of other positive signs.
Chelf rushed for 85 yards on nine carries, including a pair of 32-yarders. An offensive line that kept the same restructured combo that debuted against TCU last week “actually blocked people and pushed them the other way” for the first time this season, Gundy said, allowing the ball carriers to make cuts beyond the line of scrimmage rather than behind it.
But Roland was certainly the star in his first start since high school. That was also the last time he rushed for 200 yards — 265 to be exact, he says — before missing the rest of that season with an injury.
Roland said he never got discouraged when he wasn’t getting carries in recent weeks. He admitted he was surprised when he got the nod to start, but prayed about it each day leading up to the game. After the contest, his gaudy numbers hadn’t sunk in, but he couldn’t wait to tell his parents.
Then, Roland wanted to forget about his historic day. A trip to Texas Tech is next on the schedule, as the Cowboys begin their toughest stretch of the season.
And as quickly as Desmond Roland became the forgotten man in OSU’s backfield, he’s suddenly become a key piece of the Cowboy offense.