MORGANTOWN, W.V. — Jeremy Smith danced regularly behind the line of scrimmage Saturday, then danced around one glaring question from Oklahoma State's 30-21 loss at West Virginia.
What happened to the Cowboys run game?
“We were just taking what they were giving us,” Smith said.
To that extent, Smith took very little, 2.4 inches per carry – inches – on 15 runs to be exact. Doing that math, that's one yard.
Again, on 15 carries.
Another take: what the Mountaineers gave the OSU run game was a hard time.
The Cowboys managed but 111 yards on 40 carries, for a 2.8 average per attempt. Quarterback J.W. Walsh did the heavy lifting, gaining a team-high 52 yards on a variety of designed runs and scrambles. Desmond Roland, Smith's backup, ran for 46 yards on seven tries. And receiver Josh Stewart chipped in with 12 yards on two inside handoffs.
For a team that has preached and produced great balance in recent years, and against a team that has hardly halted any decent offenses of late, it was a startling development.
“We have to run the football. That's certainly not enough for us,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy of Saturday's production. “We've traditionally averaged 4 or 5 yards a carry running the ball. And we have to be able to run the football – in our opinion – to be able to function offensively.”
So, what happened to the Cowboys run game Saturday?
“I really don't know what happened,” said Cowboys left tackle Parker Graham. “I'm only looking at one guy to block.”
Most times, it looked like the Mountaineers had too many men to block, as they regularly penetrated into the backfield. Willing to take their chances with Cowboys quarterback J.W. Walsh's passing, they crowded the line of scrimmage and brought frequent blitzes, clogging running lanes.