Grant Jones, Other Backs Asked For More

While the Cowboys defense works this week on the chore of stopping Missouri's "Mr. Everything" on offense in quarterback Brad Smith, the Oklahoma State offense is working on coming up with alternate playmaking sources. Smith is a senior for the Tigers, a fully mature quarterback who has rushed 396 yards and thrown for 929 yards. Smith's total offensive production of 1,325 yards (331 yards per game) represents over 65 percent of Missouri's total output with the football.

Smith is the Missouri offense and he is capable of that. The Cowboys love the many talents of Bobby Reid, but the redshirt freshman has shown he's not capable yet of being the show on offense.

In the throwing game there is no choice, and against Colorado there were open receivers that Reid missed. There were also some plays made by the likes of senior squad man Errick McCown, inconsistent Tommy Devereaux, and talented young tight end Brandon Pettigrew. McCown has plenty of speed, but he's never stepped up until now. His catch over the middle, his third of the game against Colorado, showed some nerve and is a play that frightens even experienced receivers. On that same late drive Devereaux caught a clutch nine-yard pass on a fourth-and-two play. Pettigrew's 13-yard catch was the second longest in the game for the Cowboys. So the receivers have shown promise, but there needs to be some added output in the running game.

Mike Hamilton has rushed for 298 yards in four games and has a respectable 4.7-yards per carry average, but a home run hitter in the backfield he is not. That is why former Pawnee (Okla.) All-State running back Grant Jones got his debut against Colorado. Jones, who has played safety and linebacker at Oklahoma State, rushed for 5,329 yards in high school with 71 touchdowns. His senior year he scored 35 times in leading Pawnee to the state championship game where the Black Bears lost to Donovan Woods and Millwood. Last Saturday in the 34-0 loss to Colorado, Jones ran several plays including the fan favorite counter-pitch and finished with 12 yards on three carries, a modest start for one of the fastest players on the team. How quickly can he become a factor?

"At least double him up because we actually worked a couple of other things for Colorado since we had the open week, so we're a little bit ahead," said running backs coach Curtis Luper. "You will see a lot more of him. We hope he will add a good change of pace to Mike (Hamilton) and he will get us some explosive plays."

"I was really excited to get to play there, and I'm hoping I get more opportunity," said a humble Jones after the Colorado game.

Is there rust to knock off, after all, Jones hadn't carried the ball since his senior season in 2002 at Pawnee. Do running backs have to learn those instincts again or at least brush up on them?

"You don't lose it until you're about 40," laughed Luper, a former running back that is closing in on 40 years old. "It is natural for him and I noticed it when he ran the kick back against Arkansas State. He's getting it back, but he still has to get the speed of the game because he wants to go too fast. He needs to slow himself down a little bit. It's just getting reps and getting comfortable and that should come Saturday (against Missouri) because we're going to get him in a lot more."

While Jones should be a boost to the running game, it is becoming clear that instead of one "bell cow" tailback the Cowboys will likely be running by committee this season.

"We're not playing well enough, I think, for us to win," Luper said of the position as a whole. "I thought that Shawn Willis played better and is more physical. It's just physical and knocking people down. We're still looking for Mike to break more tackles, and not necessarily take it the distance because he's not a 4.5 guy, but to run hard and we could do better."

Julius Crosslin is still the short yardage and goal-line back and young fullback John Johnson is still in the mix too.

There are numbers on the depth chart. Now they need to do a better job of helping put numbers on the scoreboard.

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