OSU's up-tempo offense often creates a perception that the Cowboys are all about the passing game.
Except in this case, perception is not reality.
The Cowboys have had a first-team All-Big 12 running back five of the past six years, with a second-team selection the other season.
“To be honest, I hope that all of our opponents think that we're a passing, passing, passing team, because we've got some guys who can do a good job carrying the ball,” said OSU running backs coach Jamal Singleton.
“All you have to do is look at the stats for the past few years. We kind of get that perception of being a passing team, but we've had a 1,000-yard rusher the past six years. We've had an All-Big 12 rusher for about the same amount of time, so obviously, we're doing something when we've got the ball in our hands.”
While the Cowboys lost All-Big 12 rusher and league rushing leader Joseph Randle, Singleton said he's confident the run game will continue to produce. It may look different with Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland stepping in, as both bring a different style than Randle.
Yet Singleton said production comes in different packages.
“I don't think there's a cookie-cutter approach to what you can look like as a running back,” Singleton said. “I'm looking for football players.
“They can come in all sizes and shapes and different skill sets. Do you make plays when you're on the football field? That's what I look for.”
Defensive tackle Calvin Barnett on his team's focus:
“If you're not ready for Mississippi State right now, you're on the wrong team. We are getting familiar with their stuff right now.”
JOSH STEWART EMBRACES MENTOR ROLE
As he looks around the receivers meeting room, Josh Stewart realizes that he's no longer the kid.
And he realizes it reluctantly.
“I don't want to get old,” he said.
Still, as a junior in the program, Stewart is coming to grips with what it means to be a veteran.
“As other guys come in, I've got to be a leader to the young guys, coach them up a little bit when they need help on something,” Stewart said. “You've just got to step up when you get to be a junior.”
1988 Reunion Set
A reunion of OSU's 1988 team, which featured Barry Sanders' assault on the NCAA record books en route to the Heisman Trophy, has been set for Nov. 9 when the Cowboys host Kansas.
The squad will be brought together and recognized during the game.
That team is known for one of the most productive offenses in school history, buoyed by Sanders, but also quarterback Mike Gundy and All-American receiver Hart Lee Dykes, among others. Those Cowboys finished 10-2 and won the Holiday Bowl.
Members of the '88 team should contact POSSE event coordinator Mary Lewis at 405-744-4201.
BY JOHN HELSLEY