After completing just 5-of-16 passes in the first two games fans wearing orange were wondering what happened to their offense that over the last two years produced record numbers and was so exciting to watch. They knew that record-setting wide receiver Rashaun Woods had gone to San Francisco to strike NFL gold and quarterback Josh Fields had gone to the minor leagues in pursuit of someday becoming the Chicago White Sox's third baseman.
But, hey there were still two Woods around, one to throw and one to catch. In the first two games the brothers could never hook up and through the first half of game three had misfired on a couple of other chances with only a meaningless seven-yard third-down connection that failed to earn a first down. Donovan Woods was just 2-of-7 passing at halftime, but at least two of his passes should have been complete. He tossed the ball in the end zone to normally sure handed tight end Charlie Johnson only to see Johnson fumble with it and miss. It caused Woods to turn to his fellow quarterbacks on the sidelines with a look of "what did I do to deserve this?"
"When I was looking back over at the sidelines I just kind of knew that things happen like that," said the youngest of the Woods brothers and the only quarterback. "Sometimes you know, I'll throw the ball and the receivers won't catch it all the time, and then sometimes receivers run great routes and I don't get the ball to them. I understand things happen in a way and they happen for a reason. We did a great job today and took care of business and got the W."
In the end it was a case of the flu that sidelined Donovan Woods for some key practice work this week that may have ignited the passing attack that media and fans alike worried had mysteriously gone dormant. Donovan Woods had the flu during the week and missed some key moments of practice, including work on the two-minute drill. Backup Al Pena took those snaps and earned the opportunity to try it in a game at the end of the first half.
He made it count with two completions including a 34-yard fade to Luke Frazier that put the Cowboys on the Mustang 1-yard-line and produced an easy touchdown run for Greg Jones. The touchdown drive took just 24 seconds.
"I liked Al," said head coach Les Miles of Pena's work on the two-minute drill. "I liked what he did out there. In game week Donovan had the flu and Al had most of the work on Wednesday and the two-minute drill on Thursday and did a great job with it. He came in the game and handled the situation very nicely. He made a couple of good throws, got the team up and on the ball well, and ran the drill extremely well. I think that is a great characteristic of this football team to send some others guys in there and have them perform at a very high level."
"I just wanted an opportunity to go out and do what I could do," said Pena of his first collegiate action. "I just thank God that I can play at this level. I just threw it up (to Luke) and thank goodness he made a great catch and made me look good."
Pena's success motivated Woods and the Oklahoma State starting quarterback came out the second half throwing the best we've seen since the report date for the squad back on Aug. 8. In the first drive of the second half, Woods hit tight end Billy Bajema for 16 yards, came back and connected with Frazier for seven yards, and finished the drive with a 14-yard toss to brother D'Juan Woods for the touchdown.
"It was great," said D'Juan Woods of his first touchdown catch of the season and his first collegiate touchdown reception delivered from his younger brother. "It brought back memories from high school."
Woods would later show his ability to throw the deep ball as he connected with freshman Prentiss Elliott for a score similar to his 46-yard touchdown pass to Chijuan Mack in the Tulsa game. Pena wasn't through either as he came back and threw his first career touchdown pass to D'Juan Woods. The 17-yarder with 4:33 left in the third quarter made the score 52-0 in favor of the Cowboys and would end the passing experiment for the night.
Woods finished 6-of-11 for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Pena added a perfect 4-of-4 for 67 yards and a score. It's not the West Coast offense they are seeing in Nebraska or anywhere close to Mike Leach's maniacal pass first, pass second, and keep passing style at Texas Tech. It is enough to keep opposing defenses aware of the pass and stop them from cramming more players in the box than any box should ever have to hold. In other words, enough to keep giving tailback Vernand Morency
a chance to break loose from defenders for those big, beautiful runs he's been breaking since the season-opening trip to the Rose Bowl.
The only thing better than seeing Woods throw touchdown passes to Woods would be if Rashaun were still around for maybe a little Woods-to-Woods-to-Woods hook and ladder (lateral) play. Actually, that's never happened, although all three have been involved in touchdowns in the Woods' front yard growing up.
"It was actually a bubble route like the bubble route we have here," said Donovan Woods. "We probably would have ran it last year. I would throw it to D'Juan and he would throw it for the score to Rashaun. I didn't play last year, so we never got to do it in college, but we've done it back at home."
Cowboy fans will have to settle for Woods-to-Woods without the third party, and now that they've seen it and seen Pena tossing the ball too, they seem to be much more at ease with the Big 12 conference season set to start in two weeks.
This Just In: OSU Can Pass With Two Quarterbacks
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