Grading the Cowboys

Jay has his red pen out, and he is ready to mark up the final stat sheets. Which position had an A-plus performance?

Quarterback:  Josh Fields struggled in the outset of the game, lacking rhythm and consistency in his passes.  Fields finished the first quarter completing only 6 of 12 passing attempts.  However, as the offense slowly began to churn in both the running game and the passing game, Fields honed in his accuracy, and finished the contest with 17 completions out of 30 attempts for 235 yards.  Additionally, Fields completed the game without any of the interceptions that proves so costly the week before. 


Head Coach Les Miles felt confident about Josh's performance, "I think his checks and his passing were pretty sharp.  I think everybody has to get into a rhythm of a game, and I think that he reached that rhythm pretty quickly."


In the ongoing effort to add quality depth to the quarterback position, the Cowboy staff inserted Jamie Beeghley in the third and fourth quarters, marking the redshirt freshman's first action as an OSU Cowboy.  Beeghley managed the offense fairly well in his initial appearance; however, Beeghley missed a grand opportunity to punctuate his debut in the third as he skipped a pass at the feet of a wide-open Charlie Johnson on third down and short yardage, thus ending a Cowboy possession.


Overall Grade:  B-


Running Backs:  Tatum Bell destroyed the Wyoming defense for 215 yards in the senior tailback's first banner performance of the 2003 season.  Bell ripped off touchdown scoring runs of 7-, 30- and 16-yards, and, perhaps more impressive, averaged a whopping 10.2 yards per carry.  In addition to displaying his trademark blazing speed, Bell burst through the line for tough yards up the middle, frequently hitting the assigned hole, and breaking runs outside.  "Tatum Bell's 200 yards, he had a big day.  Tatum passed Bob Fenimore on the all-time list, which is a very significant name around here," commented Miles.


Bell's 215 yards ranks as his new single-game career best (previous high: 182 vs. Nebraska in 2002), and marks the first time an OSU tailback topped the 200 yard barrier since Jamaal Fobbs rushed for 217 yards against Southwestern Louisiana in 1997.


Seymore Shaw tacked on and additional 71 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, while fullback Shawn Willis added 21 yards and two touchdowns.  Willis exhibited the strength and athleticism developed over the summer workouts, as the 250-pound sophomore proved vastly difficult to tackle once the ball rest in his hands.


Vernand Morency added 31 yards in clocking-killing duty, and Tim Burrough returned at near full strength to his fullback duties.


Overall Grade:  A+


Wide Receivers:  Six receivers caught 19 passes for 260 yards against Wyoming.  The Cowboy staff continues to find a consistent number two wide receiver to replace John Lewis opposite of Rashaun Woods, however, several young receivers, and one sage veteran showed significant capabilities in the victory.


Rashaun Woods devastated the Wyoming secondary, and, additionally, delivered a performance that etched September 6, 2003 as yet another date with his name in the Oklahoma State record book.  Rashaun vaulted past the legendary Hart Lee Dykes (3,172) with 3,246 career receiving yards.  Coach Miles commented on Rashaun Woods' record achieving evening, "Woods' nine catches for just under 200 yards is our all-time leading receiver.  That's nice that that has happened, now he can kind of concentrate on finishing his season as well as he can, and get some of those milestones behind him.  I think any time that you get Rashaun on and going, that that is a real advantage for us."


The Cowboy receivers registered less than a handful of dropped passes on the evening, thus adding to the overall soundness of their performance.  Rashaun and D'Juan Woods, Kenneth Williams, John Wohlgemuth, Gabe Lindsay and Tommy Devereaux each saw time at wide receiver against Wyoming.


Overall Grade:  A 


Tight Ends:  Found themselves mostly in blocking situations this evening, and aided the offensive line in allowing Josh Fields plenty of time in the pocket, as well as playing a significant role in blocking for Tatum Bell's dazzling evening.  Billy Bajema dropped one of Fields' passes early, and both Fields and Beeghley failed to connect with Charlie Johnson on separate occasions.  Johnson later hauled in an 18-yard reception, showing off his first-class hands.


Overall Grade:  B



Offensive Line:  Coach Miles quickly praised the offensive line for Tatum Bell's stellar performance, "The offensive line deserves a lot of credit for some of those yards; there were some big gaping holes."


Continuing to seek answers at both of the offensive tackle positions, the Coach Miles and Coach Moeller routinely rotated senior Doug Koenig with Matt Hardison at left tackle.  Both responded admirably, along with the rest of the offensive line of Chris Akin, Ben Buie, Sam Mayes and Kellen Davis, providing solid protection for Josh Fields on the pass, and opening up seams and creases for the running backs as the Oklahoma State offense rolled up 594 yards of total offense.  True freshman Corey Hilliard spelled Davis late in the ballgame, as the Coaching staff indicated by this move that Hilliard figures into the Cowboy plans now.


Overall Grade:  A


Defensive Line:  The Cowboy defensive line, particularly veteran ends Greg Richmond and Antonio Smith inflicted a nightmarish performance on Wyoming's record setting quarterback Casey Bramlet.  Richmond riddled Bramlet, sacking the opposing Cowboy's offensive leader three times, in addition hurrying Bramlet on numerous other occasions.  "If you line up and throw the football against us, we are going to have speed guys that can go by your tackles and get to the quarterback.  That was pretty evident today," stated Miles.


One of the keys to Saturday's ballgame centered around the improvement and development of several of the Cowboy newcomers in hopes of adding significant depth and playmaking ability throughout the OSU line-up.  The contest allowed the Cowboy staff the opportunity to expose several young players across the defensive line to their first taste of Division 1 football.  True freshman Marque Fountain rotated regularly with the first team defense while the game still weighed in the balance.  The coaches utilized Fountain's abilities particularly on third down passing situations.  Fountain responded with two solo tackles and one sack for a ten-yard loss.  Coach Miles, pleased with the output of the younger players, commented saying, "It looked to me, that some of our young guys that got in the game, will play better and better as time goes on…Marque Fountain, Girtman, XLK and some of those guys get some significant snaps.  Between Scooby and Richmond, I didn't think that they had a great opportunity in protecting the passer.  Marque Fountain played well minus a penalty that he'll have to learn about.  XLK and Girtman and those guys getting some snaps…that was exactly what we needed."


The OSU defensive line administered a furious pass rush the entire evening, however, showed a few continuing signs of vulnerability against the rush.  Coach Miles commented on the inconsistency in the running game, "We have to be able to stop the rush.  There were times when Wyoming was trying to run the football, at the end of the half, and end up driving down the field and scoring.  I think that that is a concern of ours." 


Antonio Smith, Clay Coe, Kyle Hix and Greg Richmond started the evening for the Cowboys, while XLK, Girtman, Fountain, Efe Mowarin, Mike Williams, Darnell Smith and J.D. Bray saw action against the Wyoming Cowboys.


Overall Grade:  A- 


Linebackers:  Sophomore Lawrence Pinson, along with Safety Jon Holland, led the Cowboy defenders with six tackles, as the Oklahoma State Linebacking corps turned in a solid, yet unspectacular performance.  The debut of heralded freshman Victor DeGrate proved, perhaps, the most exciting event of the evening at the Linebacker position.  DeGrate hammered Cowboy ball carriers on multiple occasions, and registered four tackles, including one tackle for a loss.  Coach Miles also cited DeGrate's performance, "Victor DeGrate played extremely well at Middle Backer it appeared from the sideline."


The usual cast of Pinson, Padgitte McGee, Paul Duren and Glenn Jackson handled the Linebacking chores in addition to DeGrate.


Overall Grade:  B.


Defensive Secondary:  Darrent Williams displayed tremendous coverage skills against the pass-happy Wyoming offense, batting down four of Bramlet's pass attempts, each seemingly on spectacular individual performance by the junior cornerback.  Williams denied the Cowboy's fleet, rangy receivers any opportunity to create a big play, and, chased down Wyoming's Jovon Bouknight from behind on a 74-yard reception, one of the few significant plays allowed by the OSU defense all evening. 


Junior college transfer Jon Holland proved for a second week in a row the penchant for flying to the ball blasting the carrier, in another solid performance. 


The Cowboy defense administered a tremendous pass rush, placing heated pressure on the Wyoming quarterback.  Defensive coordinator Bill Clay utilized Safety blitzes on several occasions to spice up the furious pass rush.  Another junior college transfer playing at Safety, Jamie Thompson indicated the ability to contribute in this area, by providing tremendous pressure, and registering one tackle for a loss.


Overall, the Cowboy secondary turned in a solid performance, however, allowed a few big plays, including a couple of long pass completions for large gains.  None of these efforts by Wyoming posed any significant threat to the outcome of the contest.


Overall Grade:  B+


Special Teams:  Gabe Lindsay energized the Cowboy offense with an electrifying 55-yard punt return for a touchdown, kick-starting the sputtering Oklahoma State offense.  Coach Miles pointed out Lindsay's heroics, "Gabe Lindsay gets a nice return for a touchdown.  He really did an excellent job of returning punts." 


Senior kicker Luke Phillips drilled two field goals, each 23 yards in distance, and, in the process, moved into 11th place on OSU's all-time career scoring list.


Cole Farden booted five punts for an average of 45.8 yards, and routinely blasted the football through the end zone on kick-offs.


Overall Grade:  A+



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