SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Where, oh where have the Oklahoma State receivers gone?
Josh Stewart insists he isn't asking that question following the Cowboys' season opener where a run-heavy attack — one largely led by quarterback J.W. Walsh — pounded an SEC team but didn't leave much room for the pass-catchers to get involved.
“Just because (Walsh is) running don't mean our receivers disappear,” the OSU slot receiver said. “We're still there.”
Now that the No. 13 Cowboys have quickly settled their quarterback derby, the next step for the offense appears to be blending that running game with pushing the ball down the field with those receivers that still arguably make up OSU's deepest and most talented position group. That task begins when the Cowboys face Texas-San Antonio Saturday at the Alamodome.
“A lot of times you have to take what the defense is giving you,” Cowboy offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said of why the receivers didn't get as involved against Mississippi State, “and also you have to play the hot hand.
“We just have to make sure that we're doing the right things to get the best people the ball. That comes from space and matchups and all those sorts of things. We have to make sure that we're a balanced football team. But it really, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you run it or throw it or where the majority is — whether it's 60-40 (percent) or 40-60 — it doesn't matter as long as you're winning football games.”
Walsh truly threw the ball downfield only four times against the Bulldogs. That led to stat lines like this for Cowboy receivers: Stewart, four catches for 39 yards. Tracy Moore, four catches for 38 yards. Charlie Moore, four catches for 18 yards.
But don't be so quick to blame Yurcich, the Cowboys' new play caller, for the change in attack.
Yes, he installed the wildly successful option play in the OSU's three-back formation. But at Shippensburg, his quarterback, Zach Zulli, threw the ball 42 times per game, racking up 4,747 yards and 54 touchdowns. One receiver, Jacob Bakersville, tallied more than 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Another totaled 1,200 yards and 19 touchdowns. Two more compiled at least 500 yards each.