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Oklahoma State football: Why Jeremy Smith can't be a short-yardage back

OSU vs. KANSAS STATE — His average gain against West Virginia netted the Cowboys the width of an Iphone screen. Similar production today vs. the Wildcats could hasten the end of his days as OSU's lead back.
by Jenni Carlson Published: October 4, 2013

STILLWATER — Jeremy Smith averaged 0.1 yards per carry at West Virginia.

And as bad as that sounds, it was worse because that average is rounded up. He averaged 0.067 yards.

That's 2.4 inches.

That's a little wider than an iPhone screen.

There was plenty of offensive blame to go around after Oklahoma State's abysmal performance last week. J.W. Walsh was off. The line was porous. The play calling was lacking. The receivers had the dropsies.

But the Cowboys have got to take a critical look at running back.

On a day when Kansas State comes to town and OSU must get its offense back on track, Smith has to be on notice. If he doesn't produce Saturday and quickly, Cowboy coaches need to look at the next man up.

The Cowboys absolutely must get more out of the run game.

As pass-happy as the OSU offense has become with the spread, balance has remained critical. The Cowboys have had it in the past whether the run game has come from Kendall Hunter or Joe Randle, ranking second in the Big 12 in rushing last season and fourth in 2010. In 2011, they ranked ninth, but that was the Fiesta Bowl year featuring Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.

In case you haven't noticed, this OSU team has neither a Weeden nor a Blackmon.

The Cowboys rank fifth in the conference in rushing, directly behind the vaunted running attack of the Kansas Jayhawks.

For the OSU offense to work best, the running game opens up the passing game. These Cowboys need that now more than ever.

Despite Walsh's improved passing, the past couple games have been a reminder he's never going to be Wes Lunt or Weeden or even Zac Robinson. His arm isn't a rocket. His aim isn't dead eye. But more than anything, his play is inconsistent. Sometimes, he'll be great. Sometimes, he'll be suspect.

Want to take some pressure off Walsh?

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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