Cowboys Prepare For Freshman QB

STILLWATER – The Oklahoma State defense is going from one extreme to the other in this week's Big 12 opener against Kansas State and true freshman quarterback Josh Freeman. Two weeks after facing Houston's Kevin Kolb, who was making his 40th career start and has passed for more than 10,000 yards, the Cowboys on Saturday will face Freeman, who will be making his first collegiate start.

Freeman, a 6-foot-6, 238-pound freshman from Kansas City, Mo., who was one of the nation's top recruited quarterbacks a year ago, has played in a backup role to Dylan Meyer in the Wildcats first five games, including last week's 17-3 loss to Baylor. He completed just 11 of 33 passes for 196 yards while throwing three interceptions against the Bears. On the season, he has completed just 29.8 percent of his passes while throwing four interceptions and no touchdowns.

The Cowboy defense, which was torched for 509 total yards (Kolb threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns), is looking forward to getting back on the field after having a week off following the Houston loss.

"We owe it to our fans," said OSU defensive tackle Larry Brown. "They love our defense. We've got to show it again like we did the first three games"

And there may not be a better opportunity than to show it against a true freshman who will be making his first start for the Wildcats. Kansas State has only scored one touchdown in its last two games, and ranks 11th in the Big 12 in total offense (299.2 yards per game) and 11th in scoring offense (20.2 points).

"Offensively, obviously they haven't fared as well as they probably think they should have," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. "I know that they are better than what they are showing statistically.

"Playing freshman quarterbacks at times can be difficult," continued Gundy, who started Bobby Reid as a redshirt freshman a year ago, and was actually a starter as a true freshman for the Cowboys in 1986. "I'm glad that Bobby's had a few games under his belt, and is getting a little bit better. Obviously, they feel that he (Freeman) gives them the best chance to win."

Linebacker Jeremy Nethon agrees that some members of the Cowboy defense may be looking forward to indoctrinating the freshman quarterback to the ways of Big 12 play, but he's not one of those.

"Honestly, if he's a true freshman and he's starting at a Big 12 school I think he's a quality player," Nethon said. "There's no doubt in my mind that they're a quality team, so even if they start a freshman quarterback, I think he's a good quarterback to start at this level. I'm going to respect him, and have to do my drills right and make plays."

OSU defensive end Marque Fountain says, "It excites me. I know that he'll have freshman jitters. I'm just going to look at it as I look at any other game, whether he's a freshman or senior. I'm pretty sure that if they're starting him he's got some ability."

Gundy knows that most knowledgeable football fans will expect the Cowboys to blitz, and put as much pressure as possible on Freeman. But that doesn't always work best, the Cowboy head coach said.

"I think you want to make any quarterback uncomfortable," Gundy said when asked about applying pressure on the Wildcat freshman. "The general comment from people outside would say, ‘Well, he's a freshman - pressure him, blitz him, do a lot of different things to put him in a situation where he is uncomfortable.

"At times if you do too much of that you may put him in a situation where it benefits him. It gives him an opportunity to know where to go with the ball quicker because of whatever the scheme may be versus pressure, compared to let's play base or let's disguise this coverage and put him in a situation where he has to make that determination in a normal drop back passing situation, which allows you 2.8 seconds to throw the ball. So he has that amount of time to make a decision instead of just seeing a blitz coming and (knowing) this is where I throw the ball because this is what I've been told to do against the blitz.

"Their coaches obviously see something in him that makes them think he can get the job done because they're playing him."

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