The Replacements

Vernand Morency had 269 yards in place of injured tailbacks Tatum Bell and Seymore Shaw. Meanwhile Chay Nease had a career day with 64 receiving yards, and several other players stepped into vacant positions for a 44-21 thrashing of Kansas.

STILLWATER -- Vernand Morency has already proven earlier this season that he knows how to step into an important role for the Cowboys.

When Tatum Bell was benched early in the Cowboys non conference win over Louisiana-Lafayette he stepped into the tailback role and rushed for 189-yards and two touchdowns. This time Morency had to know with the top two tailbacks on the depth chart out with injuries he was going to get another shot.

Morency started the game and in an incredible third quarter finsihed the Jayhawks with 170-yards rushing in that quarter alone. Morency finished the day with 269-yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns as the Cowboys rolled 44-21 over Kansas.

It was the ninth best day for a tailback in school history, and the biggest since Gerald Hudson ran for 264-yards against Iowa State in 1990.


          "He's a very capable ball carrier," said head coach Les Miles. "He jump starts pretty well and he likes to show people that he can do that. He had a nice day, ran hard. We needed him. We lose Tatum (Bell) and Seymore (Shaw) and Vernand Morency, in his own right is very capable. We turned to him today and said 'OK, we need you to play,' and he did. It's a mark of a good football team where you can turn to guys and put them in the fray and count on them to make big plays and he did. He's a good back and we are fortunate to be able to turn to a guy like that in a game like this and go get some big yards."


          Morency started with a five-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, just blasting through the middle of the line with a big hole. That score broke a 3-3 tie to put Oklahoma State on top 10-3 in the second quarter.


          "I was just going out there and having fun," said Morency. "I've been playing up tight, and I just wanted to have fun. The offensive line did a great job, and I tip my hat to the linemen and to the coaches for having a great plan today."


          Morency came back with a 19-yard touchdown run in that unbelievable third quarter. On that drive that put OSU up 23-13 Morency had 48 of the 71-yards. 

Gabe Lindsay's second big punt return of the game set up the next score and Morency covered 23 of the 30-yards with fullback Shawn Willis scoring from four-yards out.


          Now Morency was really getting it in gear as he made a move on a 45-yard run that was a stop and start that froze three Jayhawk defenders. Dare I say, it looked like Barry Sanders back in Stillwater. Not a comparison that anybody should make lightly, Morency was really that impressive.

He covered 75-yards of an 82-yard drive that he finished with a six-yard touchdown run to put the Cowboys up 37-13.


          "Early on in the season I felt kind of tense, not running like I normally run," said the former Colorado Rockies minor leaguer. "Today I was relaxed and zoned in and just ran the way I wanted to."


          It was an unforgettable day for Morency that left OSU fans wondering which current tailback is the best, and giving them comfort for the future as with Bell departing Morency has two more years at Oklahoma State.


          There were other heroes. Lindsay's two punt returns, Greg Richmond's two sacks to give him 12 1/2 for the season, and freshman corner Ricky Coxeff with an acrobatic interception that set up the Cowboys final touchdown.


          "We had a two man coverage, like a zone coverage, and I came back and saw him throwing it," said Coxeff of his maiden interception as a Cowboy. "I made a play on it because I knew I needed to make a play so we could get away with this one."


          The pick by the frosh led to a final Boone Pickens Stadium memory for All American Rashaun Woods as he pulled in a Fields pass on the fade for his 40th Oklahoma State touchdown.


          There was yet another hero worth documenting. In the first half vagabond Cowboy Chay Nease had three big receptions for 64-yards, with two of those setting up scores.  His third and final reception was a 31-yarder that set up Luke Phillips' second field goal of the game.


          "It's one of those deals where the opportunity presented itself, and you have to take hold and make it happen," said Nease of his final catch, a 31-yard grab over the middle at the Kansas eight. "The offensive line played a whale of a game today and they kept Josh off of his back which is always a key in any game. As long as he is able to look down field and see things then he is able to make plays and I just want to give credit to Josh and the offensive line, without them the play never gets started."


          What makes the junior from Thomas contributions even more gallant was the fact that he made his biggest catch and a huge block on Lindsay's 44-yard punt return with a shoulder injury that would send him to the sidelines for the rest of the day.


          "Yes, I actually played a little while with it," said Nease of the shoulder injury. "Terry (Head Athletic Trainer Terry Noonan) and the training staff asked me if I was all right. It's one of those deals during a game that you have some success and you don't want to come out because you don't know what the next play could bring. I hurt it on the second catch I made when the guy hit me and I landed on it. Then I came back and made that other catch and the block on that punt return. After that I couldn't hardly lift it up and they told me that was that."


Nease came to Oklahoma State as a speedster for Class A powerhouse Thomas, but after starting out as a defensive back then moving to wide receiver, back to safety where he intercepted a pass against A&M last season, and then finally back to wide receiver this past August.


          "It's just one of those deals where yu have to know what your role is on the team," said Nease of his trials and tribulations in finding a niche. "If you can focus a hundred percent toward that role then you can go out there and not have any regrets because you can go out there and lay it all on the line. If you don't expect too much then you won't get that down. You just give 100 percent at the job or task that is right there in front of you."


          Nease knows his role, and fortunately, for the Cowboys Morency is a potential All American at his. It's nice to have some pretty good understudys waiting in the wings.





1. How were the Cowboys able to dominate Kansas on special teams?


          You have to give credit to special teams coordinator Joe DeForest, who may very well be the best at his job in college football. DeForest spent the time necessary in the film room this week and found weaknesses in the Kansas punt formation and their coverage. He took it from the meeting room to the practice field and sold it and drilled it into the players. The result was a 44-yard punt return in the first half that set up a field goal and a 37-yard punt return in the second half that set up an important Cowboy touchdown. With Darrent Williams out with a hip pointer, it was senior Gabe Lindsay that took the returns from the practice field to the game. Lindsay really felt he should have scored on the return in the third quarter.


          "I just caught it and Vernon Grant made a good block," said Lindsay. "I could not even see where the gunner was, so I just ran up the sideline. I do not really want to talk about the rest. I should have made the punter miss. It makes me a little disgusted that I did not."


          All of the other special teams performed well, and Kansas came in as the best team at fake punts in the conference, but DeForest was all over those. The Jayhawks had several clear situations where they would consider a fake, but turned them down because the Cowboys were ready for them.


2. Which tailback is better Tatum Bell or Vernand Morency?


          You can get in trouble with this one. All Bell has done this season is rush 1,240-yards and 15 touchdowns. He is so quick and explosive that he is a threat to go all the way on any given play. With Bell sidelined, Morency, for the second time this season, showed he is quite a capable understudy.


          "He has the attributes that all great backs have in that he sees where he won't be tackled," said O-State head coach Les Miles.  "You see that in the way that he runs, guys that are unblocked, he knows when he has to make a move on them and not, and he sees the area where his greatest potential of gain is."


          No doubt, fans will ponder this argument all week and maybe the rest of the season. The truth is they are different kinds of backs with Bell a little faster and Morency being a little stronger. Both have obviously had success, and you can settle the argument by saying you are glad they are both Cowboys and one of them (Morency) has two more years to play.


          "He may consider himself to be the best tailback on the team," said Miles. "We have second and third team players that are behind other talented players and he is an example of a guy that has taken advantage of the situation and made the most of it."


          You have to give Morency this, he knew how to react to his success, in a very humble manner that even honored his teammate in Bell, who had to sit out the Kansas game with a sprained ankle. He did it when he was asked by the media if he felt like a star after the game.


          "I do not consider myself a star," said Morency. "I just play day by day. I just want to help my team out in any which way. I just wish I could have transfered my yards over to Tatum today. He is my worst critic. We go at it. When I do something wrong, he is the first one on me and vice versa> I just wish he could have got those yards today to help him in the Heisman race."


          I'm just glad that it is up to Miles and the Cowboy offensive staff as to who to play and when the rest of the season.


3. Greg Richmond started the game with two sacks why wasn't he able to get anymore?


          Richmond was really charged up from being introduced with his mother during senior day ceremonies. The 6-2, 245 pounder is the Big 12 sack leader and was really wanting to point the way in ending the Cowboys two-game losing streak. The best thing he knows how to do is sack the quarterback. First, Richmond broke off the edge and stuck KU freshman Adam Barmann for a nine-yard loss. Later on the same drive, Barmann held onto the ball too long and Richmond fought off blockers to put Barmann down in the pocket for an eight-yard loss.


          "We just wanted to come out and make a statement," said Richmond of his sacks and the defensive effort. "We wanted to show people we could play a full game. We stepped up in the second half and made a bunch of big plays."


          Back to the question, why did Richmond not collect anymore sacks the rest of the game. An examination of his jersy after the game or examination of the game video gives the clear answer. Richmond, who after the game refused to complain, had a jersey with several rips and that was clearly stretched out of shape. The game video shows almost constant holding on the part of several Jayhawk linemen including tackle Adrian Jones.


4. What happened with some of the badly missed connections in the passing game?


          Fields came out and hit 10-of-12 passes to start the game, but then on the second possession of the second quarter Fields overthrew an open Rashaun Woods in the endzone on third and goal from the Kansas three. Later on second and third down plays from the Kansas six, Fields overthrew Woods and then had a severe miscommunication with Woods on a fade route. Fields threw it to the front pylon, while Woods was in the back of the endzone.


          "We take for granted some things," said Miles. "We take for granted that (Josh) Fields and Rashaun (Woods) are on the same page. They misfired once today (actually twice) and that's us as coaches. We have to make sure we set up that scenario time and time again. I think our confidence is in tact and a part of this football team. I think they understand that they are a good football team."


          The confidence may be in place, and should be, but it's there more because of a great rushing effort by Vernand Morency, special team highlights like Gabe Londsay's two punt returns, and solid defense including two spectacular interceptions by Ricky Coxeff and Thomas Wright. The passing game needs some polishing before going to Baylor.


5. What bowl is Oklahoma State up for, is it the Cotton Bowl?


          Texas cooperated later Saturday night with a dramatic two-minute drive and then a Tech missed field goal on the last play of the game kept the Longhorns in line for the BCS. The stars were in line for the Cowboys on Saturday as Kansas State knocked off Nebraska 38-9, which helps Oklahoma State by cluttering up the north with the Wildcats, who lost to O-State, the likely winner.


          Here's the way we project the Big 12 bowls right now. Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl, Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl, Missouri in the Houston Bowl, Texas Tech in the Independence Bowl, Kansas in the Fort Worth Bowl, and Colorado, if they beat Nebraska, in the Tangerine Bowl.



OSU-Kansas Notes




          To start with defensive end Antonio Smith (broken leg), Seymore Shaw (quad injury), and offensive tackle Corey Hilliard (sprained knee) are out at least until the bowl game. Before the Kansas game Darrent Williams injured his hip and was held out. Tailback Tatum Bell tried to get back, but his sprained ankle kept him out of the game.


          Now during the game Head Athletic Trainer Terry Noonan and his staff attended to shoulder injuries to receivers D'Juan Woods and Chay Nease. Tailback Greg Jones had a bruised knee. Vernon Grant had a stinger. Center Ben Buie had a lower leg injury that required x-rays, and cornerback Robert Jones had a strained lower back. It has been a busy last two games for the medical staff.


          "Injury is a part of this game, you turn to the next guy and tell him this is what we need from this position on this day, and they are capable and they rise to the challenge and the team continues," said head coach Les Miles. "The good news, I'm told, is that some of these injuries are just nicks and they will be back, if not for Baylor, surely for the bowl game."




          There weren't a large number of serious prospects on hand for the Kansas game. It seemed like the entire team from Ringwood was on hand, but just a handful of strong prospects. Cowboy commitment Justin Waller of Ponca City was on hand. Wide receiver Seth Newton of Girard, Kansas, another O-State early commitment, was there along with some of his teammates. All the way from Memphis were Briar Christian School lineman Michael Oher and kicker Justin Sparks. Sparks is a strong kicking prospect and Oher is 6-4, 285 pounds.


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