While discussing Desmond Roland's breakout game against Iowa State — where he went for 219 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start — Oklahoma State running backs coach Jemal Singleton highlighted the junior's lung capacity and durability to shoulder 26 carries and play 60 snaps.
That quality, the coach said, is different from former starter Jeremy Smith.
“Jeremy's never kind of been a really long player,” Singleton said. “He's kind of explosive, real quick bursts.”
Does that mean there's a chance Smith is just better suited to be a complementary back?
Smith held that role behind Joseph Randle and Kendall Hunter the first three seasons of his career, where he was a short-yardage and goal-line machine who tallied 1,439 yards and 25 touchdowns during that span.
“I even told him, ‘There's some relievers in the (baseball) Hall of the Fame,'” Singleton said. “It's tough not to look at it as being a negative thing, because you go from the starter to not being the starter.
“But I guess I don't see it that way, because I've always felt that (the guy who stays in the game is) the guy that's hot. (The starter) gets the first play. That's all being the starter means. That's all.”
True freshman Rennie Childs was the No. 2 back against Iowa State but tallied just two carries for minus-1 yards and also dropped a pass. Smith didn't enter the game until late, picking up 21 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
Instead, the Cowboys rode Roland for the bulk of the game, because that's what was working.
Yet Singleton said the Cowboys will still need Smith down the stretch. Even if it does become in a backup or situational role.
“It can't be just Desmond and it can't be just Jeremy Smith and it can't be just Rennie Childs right now,” he said. “It has to be all three, and whatever role they get to play in whatever certain game, they've got to perform well.”