Crazy rumors abound about quarterback Daxx Garman getting a seat or being banged up, and either way giving the job over to freshman star Mason Rudolph. As far as we've been able to tell, there is no truth to any of those rumors including the one reported by a media member. Garman needs to improve and he is not alone.
Here is our "to do" list to go out and beat West Virginia on Saturday afternoon.
1. The Cowboys must be able to run the football.
Easier said than done. It is time for the offensive line to quit feeling sorry for itself and forget that they are young and already missing one starter and have likely had another replaced with true freshman walk-on Brad Lundblade set to take over at center.
You could say Lundblade's ascension is a sign of how bad off the line is, but I say no. Lundblade had scholarship offers and could have been somewhere getting his education paid for. Also, I thought he was the best center in fall camp, so he has earned it and deserves it. Block it, hand it off, run it and push it to 150 rushing yards or more.
2. Garman must become more accurate in throwing short and intermediate passes.
I know he is still shaking off rust but this is now week eight since Garman started playing and week seven of his starting career. Time to trust your offensive line, time to trust your receivers, and most of all, time to trust yourself.
None of his problems are physical. They are all mental and they are all born out of having not played in any games in five years. He needs to play like this is his second season and not his seventh start. Play like it and play older.
3. The Cowboys must get in the red zone or hit explosive scoring plays in a combination of five times.
But you can't count field goals, that combination of red zone appearances and explosive plays must be for touchdowns. Any field goals beyond that are welcome.
Oklahoma State is an impressive 20-of-25 in the red zone and tied for second in the Big 12 in red zone offense, but half of those scores are field goals. I feel really good now about kicker Ben Grogan, but I'll take less Grogan and more points. To keep pace against West Virginia the Cowboys will have to score at least 35 points to feel good about winning, and 35 points is a bunch for this team.
4. The defense must contain the run and hold the Mountaineers under 120 rushing yards.
There is a good chance that Mountaineers leading rusher Rushell Shell won't play after being injured in the first half last week against Baylor. Trouble is that Dana Holgorsen and company have three more talented backs that know how to turn their body and run downhill hard.
The Mountaineers offensive line is fine, and thanks to his time in Stillwater Holgorsen explained this week he picked up the love of a physical running attack and it compliments that spread passing game quite nicely. Stop the run first has to be the battle cry most weeks and yes with West Virginia it needs to be the cause on Saturday.
5. The defense must sack or hit West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett a combination of eight times.
When I say hit I mean a bone jarring hit. Eight or more times and Trickett will be impacted. Trickett is not very thick but I'll give him credit for being a gutty tough son of a gun. He sits in there and he takes hits and delivers the football.
He needs to be hit, hit hard, sacked and stacked. If you don't bust him up good then he will make you pay big. He is the leading passer in the Big 12 and his offensive line loves him, but he has still been sacked 15 times.
6. Very simple, clean special teams.
You don't have to win special teams but you can't lose. Expect something out of the ordinary from West Virginia, after all this is Joe DeForest. Defo is a great friend. He coached my son and also gave him his playbook. There is no way I can ever repay Joe DeForest for what he has done for my kid. I cheer for him every chance I get, but not this week. He will come to Stillwater and have something up his sleeve. He is Defo.
The Cowboys would do well to have Tyreek take one the distance, but if not that's fine. Make the PATs and field goals. No shanked punts or bad kickoffs and cover everything well. Be aware of fakes and trick plays. No fumbles on returns. Don't lose special teams. You can win them if you like, but just don't lose them.