NORMAN — Flashing his signature wide smile, Isaiah Anderson recalled the unique proposition he brought to Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken earlier this week.
“How about you put me at running back?” the speedy wide receiver asked.
Anderson wasn't completely joking.
He had watched West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin torch Oklahoma for 344 yards rushing — yes, rushing — in one element of an offensive game plan that saw the Mountaineers roll up 778 yards and 49 points in the near-upset in Morgantown.
OSU, of course, runs the same system, which was installed by WVU coach Dana Holgorsen during his one season as the offensive coordinator in Stillwater. So did the Mountaineers effectively show the Cowboys how an explosive spread offense can attack the Sooners, just in time for Saturday afternoon's Bedlam matchup at Owen Field?
Monken isn't exactly sold.
“What you take from (that game) is Tavon Austin's a hell of a player,” Monken said. “That's what I took from it. It's like, ‘Does he have a younger brother or something?'”
The WVU and OSU offenses follow the same general philosophies and style. They play at a fast tempo and throw the football around. They've both been wildly productive, ranking in the top 10 nationally in passing, scoring and total offense.
But there are key personnel differences between the two units.
The Cowboys have been more balanced, with the dynamic and durable Joseph Randle, and now a healthy Jeremy Smith, in the backfield. Last year's Bedlam game provided the perfect example, as both tallied more than 100 rushing yards in OSU's 44-10 rout.
Though OSU has discovered a go-to target in the versatile Josh Stewart and has gotten big moments from Anderson, Blake Jackson and Charlie Moore this season, none have reached the elite status of Austin or Stedman Bailey. Monken also expects Austin's move to the backfield likely caught the OU players and coaching staff by surprise.
Surely, Mike Stoops and the OU defensive staff have made some adjustments following the poor performance in Morgantown. Lately, the Sooners have been playing seven defensive backs in some sets. Does that continue?
And OSU is sure to counter with some of its own wrinkles. Perhaps we've already seen some of them in recent weeks.
Backup quarterback J.W. Walsh has returned from injury and will complement starter Clint Chelf with a package in short-yardage and goal-line situations seen extensively for the first time against Texas Tech last week. And a healthy Smith and Anderson give the Cowboys a power back and deep receiving threat unavailable most of this season.
To attack the Sooner defense at home, though, Monken knows the Cowboys will have to find their own way. Not necessarily the West Virginia way.
“I just know it's what it is now,” Monken said of the state of the offense. “It's kind of what we think is the best way to move it.”