When you mention Oklahoma State in recent years under Mike Gundy, you're likely to remember epic video game battles with your friends. The Cowboys put up "big, big numbers" in the words of Kansas coach Charlie Weis.
Through four games, then Cowboys are averaging 659 yards a game and contrary to what many think, they've done it with a fairly balanced attack with an average of 359 yards passing and 300 yards rushing. Overall, they average 55.75 points a game, while KU is averaging 20 points per contest through their first five games.
While it must be pointed out that two of the Cowboys first four games came against sub-par competition in Savannah State and Louisiana, the numbers can't be overlooked. Despite, losing key players like QB Brandon Weeden and receivers Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper, the defending Big 12 champion Cowboys have picked up where they left off during their 2011 campaign, which saw them challenge for a national title deep into November.
OSU Offensive Coordiantor Todd Monken said practices this week will determine if true freshman Wes Lunt (6-4 211) will return from injury. If not, look for the more dual threat redshirt-freshman J.W. Walsh (6-2 205) to be calling signals Saturday in Lawrence, as opposed to more pocket passing oriented Lunt. Walsh has passed for 797 yards and thrown eight touchdowns and two interceptions, completing 66.7 percent of his passes. Lunt so far has thrown for 588 yards, four touchdowns and three picks, completing 68 percent of his passes.
The hope among the Cowboy coaches is that their second bye week of the season will be enough rest to have Lunt ready to go, but odds are we won't know until closer to Saturday. It's also very likely that we will see both quarterbacks play, which will be another thing the Jayhawks will have to gameplan for.
Charlie Weis was straight forward and to the point when talking about the Cowboys offense. He said it all starts with Junior Joseph Randle (6-1 200). The former Wichita Southeast standout is a "home run hitter" in the words of Weis. So far, he's nearly halfway to matching his total of 1216 yards a year ago, rushing for 534 yards with an average of 7.1 per carry and 134 yards per game, while scoring six touchdowns through the season's first four games.
The other back is junior Jeremy Smith (5-10 208), who is more physical back, rushing for 172 yards on 29 carries, averaging 5.9 a carry and scoring fur touchdowns. In their last game against Texas, he was limited to six yards on four carries.
The Cowboys receivers are still pretty good despite losing Blackmon and Cooper. Senior Tracy Moore (6-2 215) will be their primary red zone threat. Four of his 17 receptions have been touchdowns. On the season, he has 221 yards receiving to go with his four scores, which all came in a 59-38 loss at Arizona in Week 2.
Sophomore Josh Stewart (5-10 178) and junior Blake Jackson (6-3 235) are common targets at their inside receiver positions. Stewart is the Cowboys leading receiver with 24 receptions, 289 yards and three scores. Jackson has hauled in 13 catches for 243 yards and a touchdown. Senior Isiah Anderson is the other receiver with eight catches for 105 yards.
OK State doesn't often use a tight end, but when they do, it'll be senior Justin Horton (6-3 254).
The offensive line is one of the better ones in the Big 12, allowing only two sacks on the season and those didn't come until their last game against Texas. The leader is senior right guard Lane Taylor (6-3 328). He's the lone returning starter from a year ago, although, most of the other starters saw quite a bit of playing time in 2011. In fact, senior left guard Jonathan Rush (6-4 305) started 13 games in 2010. Junior left tackle Parker Graham (6-7 315) started five games last year.
While Weis praised Randle when talking about the Pokes offense, he ended it by saying that their biggest weapon may in fact be their senior kicker Quinn Sharp, who also handles the punting duties. Sharp is a semifinalist for both the Lou Groza award (best kicker) and the Ray Guy award (best punter) and may be the nation's best kicker.
On the season, Sharp is seven of nine on field goals, including a season high 51 yarder against Louisiana and is a perfect 28 for 28 on extra points.
Elsewhere, watch for junior Justin Gilbert (6-0 194), who is one of the most explosive kick returners in the country. He's averaging 30.4 yards a return, which ranks first in the Big 12. He also has four career TD returns.