Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was going on and on Saturday afternoon, gushing over a dominating 31-6 win over a solid TCU team that was coming off a 62-22 win over Baylor and a bye week to prepare for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State is 2-0 over teams with a bye week to prepare for the Cowboys (Texas and TCU). Now the Pokes get Oklahoma on Dec. 3 with both teams having Thanksgiving week off from game action.
Back to Gundy, as players were starting to get antsy in wanting to change and visit family. Gundy had just commented on this team being physical and punishing TCU in the end with running the ball over them.
"Hang on, one more thing," Gundy said. "It is hard to single out just one player because so many guys made plays today, but I wouldn't want Chris Carson running at me right now. The offensive line was taking out defenders and blocking well, but Chris was running right over guys. I wouldn't want him running over me."
Gundy is proud of Carson and so are his teammates, and just about everybody close to the program. I keep going back to this comment back in the preseason made by his running back coach Marcus Arroyo.
"He got beat up, beat up a little during the season," Arroyo said. "He got beat up by the media and he got beat up by our fans. That’s the reality of it. It’s the world we live in. I like that he is playing with a chip on his shoulder."
Carson has been, in my mind, the biggest turnaround guy this season, and there have been plenty of turnaround guys. The same player that came in from Butler Community College that Mike Gundy had carted Barry Sanders' Heisman Trophy to his home in Georgia to persuade him, and that arrived in Stillwater talking a one-and-done and off to the NFL career, at OSU was beat up again on the field early in the season as he suffered a busted wrist in the wild, crazy and undeserved loss to Central Michigan.
At that point Carson had a cast on his wrist and 12 carries for a whopping 45 yards and one touchdown. His receiving stats were better with 5 receptions for 60 yards.
Before the injury and during the off-season Carson had navigated those negative feelings from fans and even from the media and I include myself in that category. He had sought advice from strength coach and pastor Joel Tudman. He had begun to deal with emotions from expectations, from family issues as his family back in Georgia had dealt with hardships, primarily from a house fire.
Honestly, I think Carson was feeling the weight of the world and while he could easily toss around big chunks of iron in the Oklahoma State weight room, those emotional weights weren't as easily lifted.
Tudman has been a strong voice for helping Carson deal as profiled in a story in The Oklahoman back in September by John Helsley. Carson handled being hurt and he prepared for his return. Since coming back in the Kansas game he has 47 carries for 362 yards and six touchdowns. He has 407 yards and seven touchdowns overall.
Most of all, he is helping his team, having fun, and giving NFL teams a lot to think about with his late college displays and his ability to catch the football.
The great thing is Carson doesn't talk about that. He talks about his teammates, winning games, and having his family see him play for Senior Day against Texas Tech, the first time they saw him play in person at Oklahoma State.
"It was special to have them here and you know after the game we didn't really even talk football. We caught up on you know, family stuff," Carson said of his Senior Day. "I was just glad to have them here and to have my mom get to see me play here."
It was a shame they weren't able to be in Fort Worth, but they watched on television and I'm going to guess that Carson's mother, Dina Rowe, had tears in her eyes when her son broke through the line and busted through another tackler, took advantage of a Chris Lacy block and almost high stepped into the end zone on a 19-yard touchdown run that was powerful. Maybe, the tears ran down her cheek late when Carson was making those runs that Gundy said he wouldn't have wanted to try and stop as Carson powered over and through TCU defenders that had neither the energy or the strength to stop the 6-1, 215-pound bullet.
Carson has been physically grown up since before he arrived at Oklahoma State, but all those things Gundy talks about in making sure players grow emotionally, get an education, and mature into young men that will make good husbands, good fathers, and good citizens, well, Chris Carson has grown into all that and along the way is a force in helping this football team explode this season and may be stating a nice all-around résumé to get the chance he wanted when he first arrived to keep playing football after college.
It's been very fun to watch Chris Carson mature.