DALLAS -- Oklahome State associate athletic director for sports information Steve Buzzard got used to diving in and researching the NCAA record book with Barry Sanders. Sanders still holds 34 NCAA marks either by himself or in tandem with several OSU teammates. Now Buzzard has been sent scrambling through the NCAA record book again, and current Cowboy All-American wide receiver Rashaun Woods is the reason. Woods opened the game with Southern Methodist University on Saturday with a touchdown catch like so many we've seen before.
Josh Fields threw the ball up to the right corner and Woods went up and took the ball away from the Mustang defender. The "fade and take" by Woods was his 30th career touchdown catch moving him ahead of Hart Lee Dykes and securing every major OSU receiving record. Little did anyone know at the time that Woods, and Fields for that matter, were just warming up.
Before it was over, Woods would make the ESPN Sportscenter open and a prime spot inside the show. Sanders had plenty of Sportscenter moments, but in the record book his most impressive mark is probably the 2,628 rushing yards in a season and that doesn't even include the 1988 Holiday Bowl. Sanders averaged 3.36 touchdowns per game rushing in the 1988 season, but Sanders never came close to what Woods did against the Mustangs. Later in the first quarter, Woods was pushed and pushed by SMU cornerback Jonas Rutledge before catching the pass in the endzone for a 10-yard touchdown. The WAC officials ruled defensive pass interference and the touchdown stood.
"I got into a personal battle with Woods early and got away from our defensive schemes," said Rutledge, who will no doubt have nightmares featuring Woods for a longtime. "The defensive pass interference calls got into my head. It bothered me because you're thinking you are playing sound defense and it gets called."
In the second quarter,
after OSU benefited from a punt catch-interference penalty on the first play,
Fields hit Woods, who was leaned on by the cornerback all the way down the
field, for a 34-yard touchdown. The
next possession, again on the first play, Woods was wide open behind three SMU defenders for an easy 32-yard touchdown pass from Fields. The Cowboy combo wasn't through for the first half, as Fields hit Woods again, this time for a 25-yard touchdown that put O-State up 38-0.
On the way back to the bench after the fifth touchdown reception of the day, Woods had a message for fans and media alike that have been blistering the airwaves and the print with criticism and doubts about the Cowboys' passing game.
"Tell everybody we're back," said Woods as he trotted back into the bench area. When Woods, Fields, and the rest of the Oklahoma State offense returned for the second half it was like they never left. On their first possession Fields hit Woods with a 31-yard pass to the SMU four. During halftime the research was done and it was learned that Woods was one touchdown reception away from tying the NCAA mark. Miles told the offense he was going to give them two series and then would be looking to get the backups some playing time.
The Fields to Woods combination continued to be unstoppable as they followed up the long gainer with a four-yard comeback route after missing on a fade route on first down. It was at this point that Woods was tied for the NCAA record six touchdown catches with San Diego State's Tim Delaney, who did it against New Mexico State in 1969. That is a record that is obviously hard to get. It isn't everyday that a receiver catches even three or four touchdown passes.
The catch that set up the record breaker was the most amazing catch of the day for Woods. Woods ran deep down the middle of the field and split defenders going up to take away the ball from the Ponies. The connection went for 49-yards and set up history.
"Actually, we had run that play earlier," said Woods of the catch. "It was just a little bit too short and the guy was able to knock it down. Josh and I got together over on the sidelines and said just throw it a little deeper and it will be there. He did and it was. He did exactly what he said he would do and it worked."
It makes all the sense in the world that the record breaker was a fade route. Like he has done so many times before, Woods went up to take the ball away as Fields watched the historic and record breaking seventh touchdown catch. One of hardest NCAA records out there now belongs to Rashaun Woods.
As Fields, who broke his own OSU record for most touchdown passes in a game set last season at Kansas, and Woods walked back over to the bench it was head coach Les Miles that was first to greet them and advise them of what they were now a part of.
"It's a record that the
team will share," said Miles. "The truth is a Rashaun Woods comes by very rarely
in a college coaches' tenure. How nice it will be for years that Josh Fields to
be a part of that and remember it over
the years. Our offense, defense and special teams all clicked and they share in that record. Rashaun is the guy that has the talent to make those plays."
"He's a load," said SMU head coach Phil Bennett. "He made several catches in zone and double coverage. He's just a great receiver. If the ball is in his vicinity, he's going to catch it."
Rashaun readily admits that the record is really not an individual mark, but a team record. It's not an easy record to achieve. "Not at all," said Woods in the locker room. "You depend so much on the quarterback, the offensive line and the running backs to block."
Just a week ago, Oklahoma State fans were wondering what had happened to their beloved passing offense. Sure, Tatum Bell and Seymore Shaw both topped 100-yards rushing and Bell had four touchdowns, but it's not the same as seeing Fields throw and Woods go up and take the ball away. Both ends of the connection say there was never any panic. They knew it would come around.
"I learned a lot because the first three games did not go the way a receiver would want them to go," said Woods. "I learned that when the offensive line is blocking as well as they were today and Josh is on the money that I have those opportunities, but only when they are doing a great job will I have those opportunities. When everybody is clickin' like that I'm just the end product."
"We wanted to have a game like this to prove, not only to the fans but to ourselves, that we could pass against anyone," said quarterback Josh Fields, who connected on 17-of-27 passes for 265 yards. "Whenever our receivers make catches like they did tonight and the line protects the way they did then you're going to make big plays in the passing game."
So just as they were
counted down and out, and Woods was being deleted from Heisman watch
lists by the media and talk was it might be tough for Woods to even make
All-Conference, the senior from Oklahoma City Millwood does something even all
of us would never have imagined. Seven touchdown catches. Woods may not be
through. His 13 receptions for 232 yards put him back on track toward becoming
the NCAA's all-time leading pass catcher. The 13 catches broke his personal best
set in the OU game last year. Now Woods has a chance to catch former Louisville receiver Arnold
Jackson's total of 300 receptions which stands as the all-time NCAA record.
Woods currently has 246 receptions and is 13th on the list. To catch 54 more
passes this season is very possible for Woods. He now has 3,549 career receiving
yards which moves him into 16th in that category. In the SMU game he moved past
Tulsa's Howard Twilley, NC State's Torry
Holt, and Peter
Warrick of Florida State.
What a night and what a catch, all seven of them. So what's better -- seven touchdown catches for an NCAA record -- or for Woods, who is a devout bassfisherman that longs to turn pro in that sport someday, catching a 10 pound bass?
"It depends," said Woods. "If I landed a 10-pound bass in the Bass Masters Classic or something like that. If I land a 15 pounder and say win millions of dollars then that would be okay."
The answer is a little easier for Cowboys fans, who enjoy the treat of watching another of college football's greatest offensive players. The fans will take the boat load of recepetions over the boatload of bass.
Game Notes and Tidbits
There was no official count but it appreared simply by eyesight that OSU fans numbered somewhere around 17,000 among the official attendance of 27,000. The OSU contingent was loud and gave the OSU players a really great atmosphere.
The Cowboy fans filled up what looked to be about six solid sections behind the OSU bench. Les Miles called it a tremendous turnout by the folks in orange and said it was a clear example to recruits in North Texas how they would be supported if they become Cowboys. Miles also said it was a nice welcome home for the close to 20 Dallas-area players that made the trip. "We'd like to play in Dallas every year." said Miles.
One member of the Cowboy football program said OSU would not mind being back in Dallas playing in the Cotton Bowl and felt that OSU could sell 45,000 tickets.
Just Looking For Some Food
OSU assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Gundy departed from normal routine at halftime of the game. Gundy would normally go to the locker room from the press box at halftime to discuss game strategy with other coaches and talk to the quarterbacks.
But things were apparently going so well that Gundy opted to stay up in the press box. It was such an unusual occurance that Gundy drew a crowd of media members that started to interview him. When asked why he wasn't in the locker room he stated, "It's hard to get to the locker room from the press box in this stadium and I am hungry so I am just looking for something to eat before the second half."
Sounds like scoring 38 points in one half gave Mike the munchies.
Jamaar Ransom got his first interception as a Cowboy in the second half. Ransom made a nice move to jump the SMU route and get the interception. The El-Paso native was one of the many Texans on the OSU roster for the game, but it wasn't quite the same homecoming for him. El Paso is still quite a ways away from Dallas.
XLK Shows His Stuff
Xavier Lawson-Kennedy showed his best as a Cowboy for his homecoming to the Dallas Metroplex. He not only got his most extensive playing time as a Cowboy but during the 3rd quarter, XLK made back-to-back tackles. One one play he filled a hole on the defensive line and stuffed the SMU running back for no gain. On the very next play SMU tried a screen pass and XLK was among three Cowboy defenders that threw the receiver for a one-yard loss. After those plays XLK signaled to the OSU bench he wanted to be relieved only to be told by the OSU coaches to stay on the field. XLK plays hard and with a lot of heart, but is still not in the best of shape.
Good As Gold
Cowboy tailback Greg Gold who worked extremely hard in the off-season finally got his first opportunity to carry the ball for the Cowboys. At first, very few in the crowd knew it was Gold as the SMU announcer gave credit to OSU defensive back Elbert Craig Jr. who also wears No. 3. Gold had a nice 12-yard run and finished with three carries for 18 yards. Gold, a native of Irving, Texas is another of the Dallas-area Cowboys who enjoyed his homecoming.