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Oklahoma State football: The Cowboys won because they had the best player — Josh Stewart

by Berry Tramel Published: October 19, 2013

Josh Stewart wasn't supposed to catch the punt. But he did.

Charlie Moore wasn't supposed to throw the pass. But he did.

Sometimes it's best to ignore the instruction manual. OSU beat TCU 24-10 Saturday because a couple of players went by the feel instead of by the book.

In a game in which touchdowns were at a premium, Stewart returned a punt 95 yards for OSU's first TD and then made a circus catch off Moore's end-around pass to set up OSU's final TD.

On a day the Cowboys switched quarterbacks, switched tailbacks and switched left tackles, OSU stayed in Big 12 title contention because it had Stewart, the best player on the field.

“It would be hard to disagree with that,” Mike Gundy said.

Clint Chelf replaced quarterback J.W. Walsh early in the second quarter and was marginally better. Freshman tailback Rennie Childs replaced Jeremy Smith in the third quarter and was much better. Daniel Koenig moved over to left tackle to shore up a battered offensive line, and who knows how that worked out?

On this Saturday, just a bunch of details. This is all you need to know. When the ball was in Stewart's hands, good things happened.

Stewart had 10 catches for 141 yards and those two huge plays.

“To have a playmaker that special, that dynamic to help you, that's what it's all about,” OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “I don't' know what that is or how you get there. But if you could bottle and sell it, you'd make a million bucks.”

Truth is, the OSU offense was different with Chelf – more downfield throws – but not really any more productive. If Chelf keeps the job, maybe that will change. He's no doubt rusty.

But here's a tip. Get the ball to Stewart.

TCU coach Gary Patterson certainly wanted to keep the ball away from Stewart, saying he instructed punter Ethan Perry to kick the ball away from Stewart. But late in the first quarter, Perry instead boomed a punt 54 yards to the OSU 5-yard line.

That's the territory where return men are supposed to let the ball bounce. But Stewart risked the wrath and caught the ball.

“I didn't even realize where I was,” Stewart said. “I just saw a lot of space between me and the first guy, the gunner for TCU.

“When I see space on the punt return, you gotta take the chance, because a punt returner should be able to make guys miss. I did that. Had some great blocks in front of me. Just worked out well.”

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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