OSU vs. UTSA: Most Important Players Saturday

Oklahoma State is a heavy favorite over UTSA in Saturday's game at the Alamodome. In a game where there is a heavy favorite, the most important player for the favorite is usually a premier player such as a quarterback, running back or demonstrative defender. Often the most important player for the underdog is someone that can help solve a certain issue for that team. That's the case this Saturday.

Most Important Player Oklahoma State: QB J.W. Walsh
Last week, Walsh came in for the third series and even though the offense did not score on that series or the next two after that, you could tell the offense was energized.

It is very simple, when an offense has a quarterback that can run that evens the fight, 11 vs. 11. Otherwise, much of the time after the quarterback has made his assist (hand off or pass) then it is 10 vs. 11. Mississippi State's defense had to respect Walsh's ability to run and it allowed the offense to get into a rhythm, even if it wasn't absolutely smooth.

This week you be guaranteed that UTSA will respect that facet of the OSU offense, and that should help much of the rest of the offense including the passing game.

"Any time you have something that's working, you never want to go away from that," said Walsh of the run game, particularly out of the trey set last Saturday. "Use what's working and attack what you see with the defense, and that's what we did Saturday.

"I feel like we'll be able to build on that and move on and expand on our offense going forward. It's whatever coach wants to call, and we're going to go execute those plays. It was good to see that we were able to run the ball, and we'll look to expand on that."

I would agree with Walsh, who will now get better with each experience including the extra reps he now gets as the starter in practice.

"Just being able to play fast, be able to slow down the game in my head and execute the plays is the most important thing," said Walsh. "That's what I worked on the most— being able to see the plays when I'm not on the field, see how it's going to break down and into what different coverages while playing fast and smart."

That is another aspect that was missing or not as dominant last week as it will be in the future, the ability of Yurcich to call plays quickly and the Cowboys offensive tempo kick into warp speed.

Most Important Player UTSA: RT Jordan Gray
In reality the most important player for the Roadrunners is quarterback Eric Soza. He makes the offense go. A coach's son who has plenty of athletic ability and the ability to find an open receiver under pressure, Soza needs to be protected.

The Cowboys kicked up the pass rush in the final three quarters last week against Mississippi State and finished with three sacks and two quarterback pressures. It's pretty easy to spot looking at the UTSA depth chart that right tackle Jordan Gray is 6-2, 260 pounds. Most offensive tackles average 6-4 to 6-6 and 300-to-320 pounds.

The Cowboys defensive ends will be licking their lips to bull through Gray, a sophomore originally out of Fort Worth Trimble Tech High School.

"I'm very proud of him," said UTSA head coach Larry Coker of his undersized tackle and the way he played in the 21-13 win over New Mexico. "He came in and did a great job for us and really stepped in and competed. He made a couple of mistakes, but they (offensive linemen) all made a couple of mistakes. He did an outstanding job. He's a good athlete."

Now it is very important that Gray backs that up with another good effort against the Cowboys. Soza needs time to find receivers like Kam Jones and Earon Holmes.

"We have to make plays. We left plays on the field," said Coker of the New Mexico game. "We had some guys open at times and didn't connect with them. Those are things you learn from.

"I'm more concerned about being able to block and protect for Eric against Oklahoma State. Both defenses played well, which probably caused the lulls for both teams. Plays were on the field that we could've made and we will make those down the road."

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