Kansas State's Daniel Sams presented the Cowboys defense with a different challenge.
And Sams, in the process, provided OSU's defense with prep work for TCU's Trevone Boykin.
The two quarterbacks have their differences, yet are similar enough as dual threats — with a real threat as dangerous runners — that Sams' surprising extensive play against the Cowboys should prove beneficial when the Horned Frogs arrive in Stillwater for homecoming Saturday.
“TCU, they're gonna run it some with (Boykin), but they're still gonna run their offense,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. “There's a little difference there, in my opinion, in what Kansas State was trying to do than what TCU would try to do, from what I've seen on tape so far.
“There are some comparisons there with what I consider a big strong (quarterback) that can get out of the pocket and run. Their quarterback, when he's running, he's like a (running) back.”
The TCU and K-State offenses looked a lot alike when comparing what the Wildcats did in Stillwater to the Horned Frogs' regular approach.
Before the 'Cats visited OSU, Sams had been more of a change up at quarterback, used mainly as a runner in relief of starter Jake Waters. But Sams played much of the way against the Cowboys, completing 15 of 21 passes — both season highs — for 181 yards and two touchdowns. And he ran 27 times for 118 yards and another score.
Sams took off frequently, on designed runs and scrambles, seemingly always remaining a threat to throw on the go. On K-State's first score, Sams ducked into the line from his spot in the shotgun, then pulled up to pop a pass to fullback Glenn Gronkowski that turned into a 67-yard touchdown.
“That was their answer to try and open up their offense some,” OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said of the move to using Sams more. “It's tough. If you want to commit another player to stop the quarterback run game, you're going to be in zero (strict man-to-man) coverage and you're not going to have safety help. That's how they got us early.
“I'm not going to put the pressure on our guys the whole game to do that. We came up with some other ways to try and slow them down.”
The TCU challenge is the same.
Boykin leads the Horned Frogs in rushing attempts, with 71 carries in six games; good for 247 yards and three touchdowns, numbers impacted by 92 yards in losses mostly due to sacks. In TCU's 27-17 win over Kansas Saturday, Boykin ran 12 times for 71 yards and a touchdown.
As passers, the two QBs are similar too, which could be good news for the Cowboys.
Neither is proficient at throwing downfield. And when they do take shots, mistakes happen.
Sams, when forced to expand his range, was intercepted three times by the Pokes. Boykin, who has thrown five touchdowns and four interceptions, was picked off twice by Kansas.
So Saturday's game, which carries major importance for the Cowboys and Frogs, should come with a familiar feel for the OSU defense.
For the Cowboys, who will have had extra time to prepare, the job is to take the K-State game and pay it forward.