Grading the Cowboys

Could it possibly be true? Did the grading pen finally run out of red ink? Jay proves he is full of surprises, and that he isn't made of stone. (AP photo, left)

The Professor felt so thoroughly pleased with the class' performance this week, he awarded the entire group passing grades. Due to the Oklahoma State football team's ability to take maximize scoring opportunities through the air offensively, and also, the defenses' suffocating performance against the SMU offense, the Professor allowed the team to enjoy a weekend off before resuming play against Louisiana-Lafayette in two weeks.


Quarterback:  Easily Josh Fields' finest performance in the 2003 season.  The SMU defense loaded defenders in the "box", daring the OSU offense to pass the football.  Fields and All-American wide receiver Rashaun Woods enjoyed single coverage throughout most of the contest; a luxury not afforded the duo yet this season.  Fields and Woods showed once again the consequences of leaving a single defender on the dynamic Woods.  Fields seven touchdowns against the Mustangs marks a personal best by the junior QB, and also set the school record for touchdowns in a single game, upping his six scoring tosses last season vs. Kansas.  Fields threw with tremendous precision and accuracy; at least three of his incompletions occurred because of Woods' drops early in the game.  Fields completed his day in the third quarter; and redshirt freshman Jamie Beeghley manned the position through the duration of the win.


Running Backs:  The Mustang defensive game plan aimed to slow the Cowboy rushing attack that ran roughshod over its past two opponents, at times committing eight and nine defenders to the rush.  The Cowboy offense tested the Mustang defense with the rush, however gladly accepted the Mustangs' challenge to utilized their vaunted passing attack.  The number of defenders dedicated to stopping the run limited any opportunity for large rushing totals by Cowboy ball carriers, however, the offense as a whole benefited from the sacrifice paid the running backs. 


Five Cowboy backs carried the football against SMU, with senior Tatum Bell once again leading the way, rushing 16 times for 50 yards.  Vernand Morency, Seymore Shaw and Shawn Willis all recorded carries in the contest, along with redshirt freshman Greg Gold who made his long-awaited OSU debut in front of a hometown crowd in Dallas.


Wide Receivers:  Rashaun Woods looked across the line of scrimmage, and saw for the first time this season a single defender lined up across from him.  Following three weeks of accumulating frustration caused by double and triple teams by opposing defenses, Woods engaged in an aerial display that cleared up any questions about his ability to utterly dominate a single defender, and sent a message to the rest of the opponents on the Cowboy schedule who plan to attempt the same game plan against the Pokes.  Woods started slowly, uncharacteristically dropping three of the first six passes thrown to him.  To make up for his miscues, the 6-foot 2-inch senior hauled in the next seven strikes from Fields, including five for scores.  Woods finished the day besting several individual, career, and conference records, not to mention topping a 34-year-old mark for touchdown receptions in a game.  SMU stubbornly refused to assign any extra defenders to Woods, leaving hapless cornerback Jonas Rutledge all alone to witness Woods' heroics first hand.  The number of passes going Woods' direction, limited the involvement of additional Cowboy receivers, although five other Pokes caught at least one ball. 


Gabe Lindsay reeled in two passes, while D'Juan Woods, Tommy Devereaux, Shawn Willis and Vernand Morency caught a pass each.  Chay Nease and Kenneth Williams also saw time at wide receiver.


Tight Ends:  Again, mildly involved in the passing game, sophomore Charlie Johnson dropped one of the few passes thrown toward a tight end during the contest.  Johnson, Jesse Jackson and true freshman Tremayne Standberry saw plenty of action at tight end, and aided the offensive line in an excellent effort protection wise. 


Offensive Line:  The Cowboy coaching staff maximized the opportunity to experiment with several different combinations along the offensive line in an ongoing effort to solidify the starting positions and key reserves.  The end result proved highly pleasing to the offensive staff as the line provided magnificent protection all game long in setting the stage for record setting performances by Josh Fields and Rashaun Woods. 


Matt Hardison, Caleb Noble, Chris Akin, Sam Mayes and Kellen Davis started across the offensive front, while Doug Koenig and Corey Hilliard logged key snaps at both of the tackle positions.  Corey Curtis joined the effort late in the contest, and redshirt freshman Kurt Seifried replaced Akin at center in the second half in his first action as a Cowboy.


Defensive Line:  The defensive front provided stifling pressure against the Mustang offense, clogging up running lanes, and harassing the SMU quarterbacks in passing situations.  True freshman Marque Fountain continues to impress as a viable reserve at defensive end as the big youngster from Houston logged a sack for a seven-yard loss.  Junior Clay Coe also recorded a sack, along with junior defensive end Antonio Smith.  The Cowboy defensive front spearheaded an effort that limited the SMU offense to a mere two first downs and 33 yards of total offense in the first half.  All of the Cowboy defensive tackles and defensive ends that figure in the regular rotation saw significant playing time from a very early point in time in the game.


Linebackers:  A group quickly progressing as intimidating force on the defensive side, the OSU linebackers filled running lanes effectively, provided pressure on blitzed, and frustrated Mustang ball carriers with overwhelming speed and force.  The Cowboy defensive staff continues to develop and implement the four-man linebacker rotation of Lawrence Pinson, Pagitte McGee, Paul Duren, and the ultra-athletic Victor DeGrate.  DeGrate continues to mature as he emerges as a brutal run-stopper in the middle of the Cowboy defense.  The true freshman from DeSoto, Texas, recorded five tackles on the evening, including one for a loss. Glenn Jackson rounded out the linebacking corps for the Pokes. 


Defensive Secondary:  This group continues to prove itself as the most improved unit of the football field in orange and black.  Darrent Williams kick-started the Cowboy squad with an electrifying interception return on the Mustang's first play from scrimmage.  Vernon Grant saw his first action at a safety position, and responded with a team leading nine tackles, including two for losses.  Grant used his speed effectively on blitzes, giving the Cowboys yet another option at safety in an already highly versatile unit.  Sophomore Jamar Ransom also forced a turnover, recording his first interception of the season for the Cowboys. 





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