Rushing onto the Big 12 scene

Oklahoma State has lived up to its moniker "Tailback U" through the non-conference slate. Three very capable backs will now lead the Cowboys into the brunt of the Big 12 season. Performing well against Kansas State will be the proof critics have been looking for...

Oklahoma State's cup overflows with depth in the running game.


The Cowboys have three tailbacks, two fullbacks and a host of offensive lineman that can enter the game at any time and leave no drop-off.


OSU's offensive line stands deeper than it has in recent years. Starters Matt Hardison and Ben Buie left the game against Louisiana-Lafayette, replaced by the likes of freshman Corey Hilliard, Doug Koenig and Caleb Noble, and the Cowboys still opened holes for Vernand Morency and kept Josh Fields safe.


"We didn't miss one beat," junior guard Sam Mayes said. "Coach (Chuck) Moller does an excellent job of getting these guys time earlier in the season, so when they do have to come in and play a full game, they can come in and play just like a starter does."


The Cowboys also have three starting-caliber running backs in their arsenal.


Backup tailbacks Seymore Shaw and Vernand Morency have both proven they have the strength, speed and vision to be effective rushers in Division I.


Shaw posted a 100-yard game against Southwest Missouri State, including a 53-yard touchdown sprint. He has almost 200 yards on over six yards per carry in limited playing time.


Morency, one of the oldest sophomores around at 23, recently left little doubt about his abilities. He used a combination of hard running and pure speed and agility to pick up 189 yards against the Ragin' Cajuns.

"He's strong as an ox,"  the 350-pound Mayes said. "In some lifts, he's stronger than me. Now that kid is amazing. He's kind of like having Tatum (Bell) and Seymore in the same body, just because he does have the breakaway speed, and he has the ability to pound the ball up the middle."


And who can forget Bell, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year, had a 215-yard, three-touchdown game against Wyoming. He followed that with a 143-yard, four touchdown performance against SMS.


Bell still stands as one of the best rushers in the country, with only one downside.


Bell has suffered from fumblitis his entire career.


While coach Les Miles decision to sit Bell out after his fumble in the ULL game was admirable, it is impossible to cure a disease through punishment.


It will continue to be the weak point in an otherwise strong rushing game for OSU.


The final aspect in OSU's ground game is the fullback position. The Cowboys finally got senior Tim Burrough back from a shoulder injury for the ULL game. Burrough wasted no time letting everyone in the stands and on the field know he was 100 percent by catching two passes for 24 yards and blocking up to par.


"We look forward to having, really, two quality fullbacks to put in the game," Miles said. "Obviously Timmy Burrough will be one."


The other fullback OSU can count on is the one that replaced Burrough during his recovery, sophomore Shawn Willis. Willis has rushed for 35 yards and his first two collegiate touchdowns this year. He has also improved as a run and pass blocker. Willis definitely has a bright future with OSU.


The test for the OSU rushing game comes this Saturday against Kansas State. The Wildcats have, quite possibly, the most athletic and powerful front line and linebacker corps in the Big 12.


"Their defensive lineman are very good athletes," Mayes said. "Their linebacker crew is excellent. I think their defensive linemen are there more to take pressure off their linebackers to help them make plays."

Along with the work he does for and the O-State Sports Report, Matt Palmer is also the OSU football beat writer for the Enid News and Eagle. You can reach Matt at


GoPokes Top Stories