STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Credit for No. 11 Oklahoma State's impressive 3-0 start has gone to the emergence of sophomore quarterback J.W. Walsh and the strong performance of their veteran-laden defense.
Another component in the Cowboys' success has been the play of senior running back Jeremy Smith.
Smith's numbers don't look all that spectacular until the touchdown category — he's the Big 12 Conference co-leader with six rushing TDs.
He's a key reason OSU has enjoyed success in the red zone, with 15 touchdowns on 15 trips inside the opposing 20-yard-line.
Smith will be a big part of the Cowboys' game plan when they open Big 12 play on Saturday at West Virginia (2-2, 0-1).
"Jeremy has played well for us, he's been a good leader," coach Mike Gundy said. "As we progress through the season in conference play, he'll have to carry the ball more and you'll see him start to show up more statistically than he has in (pre-conference play)."
Typically, Smith deflects any praise toward his teammates and coaching staff.
"I can't do it without the offensive line, J.W., and really, the coaches that call the plays," said Smith, who totaled 371 yards and eight touchdowns last season. "My job is just to go out there and perform to the best of my ability. I can't do that without those guys. Whenever I get in the end zone, all the credit goes to them."
Following an impressive effort in the season-opening 21-3 victory over Mississippi State, in which he gained 103 yards on 15 rushes, Smith picked up just 34 on 12 carries against Texas-San Antonio.
On Sept. 14 against Lamar, Smith rushed for 40 yards on 10 carries, including three first-half touchdowns to lead the way in a 59-3 rout.
That leaves him with a solid 176 rushing yards, but perhaps a bit overshadowed by Walsh, who, in addition to running for 182 yards and two touchdowns, also has passed for 642 yards and five TDs.
"Jeremy has been very consistent and he works hard," OSU first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. "He is great on the practice field, which correlates to production on Saturdays. He works hard all through the week. He's a great leader, he holds onto the ball really well and understands pass protection. He is a complete back."
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