V-Mo Wants the Ball

Vernand Morency has a message for Les Miles, Mike Gundy, Donovan Woods and anyone else responsible for calling plays. Morency wants to do his part to see the 25th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys' two-game losing streak come to an end this Saturday against Baylor at Boone Pickens Stadium. That, Morency believes, starts with giving him the ball more than he's had it in OSU's back-to-back losses to second-ranked Oklahoma and sixth-ranked Texas.

"I'm a playmaker. I'm here to make plays," said Morency, who carried 27 or more times in six of the Cowboys' first seven games but had just 17 rushing attempts against OU and 20 in the loss to Texas. "Anytime I get the chance to touch the ball, I'm going to make plays. That's just what God put me here to do – He gave me the ability to make plays."

The 5-foot-10, 215-pound junior has rushed for 1,346 yards (an average of 149.6 per game, sixth best among Division I-A running backs), and still has two regular season games remaining. By averaging 134 yards in the final two regular season games (vs. Baylor this Saturday and Texas Tech on Nov. 27), Morency will move into fifth-place on the single-season rushing charts with 1,614 yards (passing Thurman Thomas, who ran for 1,613 in 1987).

With a pair of outstanding games, he could also pass Gerald Hudson (fourth, 1,642 yards in 1990) and Terry Miller (third, 1,680 yards in 1977).

Although improbable, passing Ernest Anderson (1,877 yards in '82) for No. 2 on the all-time single-season rushing chart may also be attainable. Remember that Morency did rush for 496 yards in the final two regular season games a year ago (269 vs. Kansas and 227 vs. Baylor). He would need 531 yards to surpass Anderson's mark.

Only the top single-season rushing efforts appear to be out of Morency's reach (Barry Sanders' amazing 2,628 yards in 1988).

But Morency believes he can help the Cowboys win by doing more than just running with the ball.

"I'm not just your average back who can go in there and get you a couple yards," he said. "I can go out and catch and try to make plays for the team to win, and every time I get a chance to touch the ball I try to make plays to help the team win."

Morency has caught just four passes this season, but his 68-yard catch and run on a short pass against Texas showed what he is capable of doing.

He hopes to get more of those opportunties this week against Baylor, which ranks last in the Big 12 (and 87th nationally) in run defense (allowing 184.1 yards a game) and is eighth in the Big 12 (and 73rd nationally) in pass defense (giving up 222.8 yards).

"As a running back, you want the ball in your hands. You want to go out and try to help your team," Morency said.

"To be honest with you, you're only as good as your coaches let you be. I don't know how many times I touch the ball (in a game). I know early in the season it was 29 or 30 times a game, but now it's trickled down to 17. I'm willing to do whatever the team needs me to do to win the ballgame. If it's touch the ball 16-17 times to win the ballgame, I'm with it."

But Morency – like all good running backs – believes the game against Texas would have been different if he'd been given the ball a few more times.

"Me personally, I would think so," he said. "That's must my nature. I have no control over how many times I touch the ball or how many plays I get in the game. (The) only control I have is when I touch it, and just making my presence felt."

Morency reinterated what he said a couple weeks ago that he plans on returning to Oklahoma State for his senior year, and not entering the NFL Draft. But he stopped short of saying it is 100 percent certain he will be playing in Stillwater in 2005.

"I'm anticipating coming back," he said.

But he said that his parents purchased an insurance policy to protect him in case of a serious injury that would prevent him from playing in the NFL.

"My parents took it out the week of OU, a couple days before the OU game," he said. "I did take one out, but that's not going to hinder me making a decision (of returning next year)."

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