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Archive for Saturday, November 20, 2010

Know the foe: Oklahoma State Cowboys boast explosive offense

November 20, 2010

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There’s no easy way to say it.

The Oklahoma State offense is good. Really good. And it’s not one-dimensional.

Such facts have kept defensive coordinators up at night throughout the 2010 season, with part of the night spent trying to figure out a way to stop the Cowboys (9-1 overall, 5-1 in Big 12 play) and the other part spent trying to figure out where in the heck they came from.

When OSU quarterback Zac Robinson and wide receiver Dez Bryant left for the NFL after last season, some believed the Cowboys’ explosive offense might come back to the pack a little bit.

It hasn’t.

Junior-college transfer quarterback Brandon Weeden has been even better, and sophomore wideout Justin Blackmon has exploded onto the national stage as one of the best playmakers in college football.

Asked when, or if, he knew Blackmon would be a special player, OSU coach Mike Gundy was dead honest.

“I don’t think anybody would’ve projected him to have this kind of a year,” Gundy said. “We’ve been very lucky with him in that he’s been very consistent in making plays each week. I don’t think that anybody would’ve predicted that he would emerge and have the kind of year that he’s having. He’s obviously got some ability. But, even as great a year as he’s having, there’s areas where he can improve himself over the next year.”

That’s hard to imagine. In just nine games, Blackmon leads the nation with 84 catches, 1,430 yards and 16 touchdowns. Those numbers alone have helped Weeden, a 27-year-old former baseball player, jump to the top of the nation in a couple of categories as well. Weeden leads the nation in passing yards (3,391), is second in TD passes (27) and is the Big 12’s most efficient passer with a rating of 159.36.

“The quarterback is a great player,” KU defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said. “I’m not sure I knew he was as good as he is until I watched him on film. He’s very confident, he understands coverages, he’s got great accuracy, great velocity and great touch on the ball. He’s the complete package.”

Lost in the eye-popping numbers put up by Weeden and Blackmon is the solid season being turned in by senior running back Kendall Hunter. With 1,356 yards, Hunter ranks fourth nationally and is second in the country in rushing touchdowns, with 16.

“Their offense is very, very explosive,” KU coach Turner Gill said. “In the three areas that you try to get talented players, they have done that — quarterback, running back and receiver. At every one of those positions, they have a guy there that can make plays.”

Asked how his defense would match up with the Cowboys, Gill said the most important thing was to get pressure on the quarterback. After that, Gill said it was crucial for his team to continue to force turnovers and make tackles.

“We’re going to have a tough time to try and slow them down,” Gill said. “That’s what you’re going to do, because you can’t stop them, you’re going to try to slow them down.”

OSU averages 45 points per game, is ranked first in the nation in total offense, second in passing offense and third in scoring offense and suffered its only loss against ninth-ranked Nebraska in a 51-41 thriller in October.

“You’re talking about a team that’s probably a couple of plays away from being undefeated,” Torbush said.

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