Will Reid Run Wild?

Bobby Reid knows who's going to have to be at his best for Oklahoma State to win its season opener Saturday against Georgia. The Cowboy quarterback realizes that the pressure is going to be on him to lead his team to the victory over the 13th-ranked Bulldogs in front of more than 90,000 Georgia fans. Or, would it be more accurate to say the pressure will be on Reid's legs and feet.

The OSU junior will be starting his 19th game in the past three season when the Cowboy kick it off against the Bulldogs in a nationally televised contest (ESPN2) Saturday evening. And if there's one thing that has been drilled into Reid's head – and he assures the Cowboy coaching staff that he's learned in recent years – is that the OSU offense is much more effective when he is a threat to run the ball.

In 2006, Reid rushed for 500 yards (fourth best on the team) and five touchdowns, including an 85-yard rushing performance (vs. Houston), a 78-yard effort (vs. Texas Tech), and a 61-yard performance (against Nebraska).

To beat the Bulldogs, and to be taken as a contender for the Big 12 South Division title, Reid is going to need to become a threat to run the ball any time and from anywhere on the field.

"In order for Bobby to play well he has to run in the game, whether it's a breakdown in a pass play and he takes off and runs, or it's a designed run, which we do a lot of," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. "He needs to run well and put that extra pressure on a defense. In most cases defenses don't have a man designed to stop the quarterback ... So he has to run the ball effectively in order for us to be good on offense. That's the recipe for success for us at this point.

"He's really matured and gotten better in the last 18 months," Gundy continued. "We started (telling him) in the spring, if something breaks down just take off and go. And I think if you drill that in them over and over that eventually they start to do it."

Reid said that Gundy, offensive coordinator Larry Fedora and other members of the Cowboy coaching staff have stressed the past two seasons how much more he could help the team by deciding to tuck the ball and turn it up field. At times, Reid said during Monday's press conference in Stillwater, Gundy and Fedora would be so mad at him that at times it was embarrassing.

"They used to be on me when I didn't really do it, but now ... it gets to a point where you get kinda tired of hearing your coaches yell at you for doing something that you can do. So you just take over ... when I run now the coaches don't get mad. They just tell me good job and say, ‘You're the one out there making the decision, you've got to do what you've got to do.'

"I've been embarrassed in front of crowds of people (because I didn't run with the ball). The only good thing about it is I had my helmet on my head, and people may not know who exactly he was talking to," Reid said with a laugh. "I guess I was just thinking too much. Trying to make sure that everything goes right. Now I realize that things aren't always going to go right, so I've got to make things right sometimes.

"Defenses can stop a play called but they don't have an answer for a guy that can tuck it and run, as opposed to just sitting there in the pocket like a duck. I've been working on it in practice with the coaches, and it seems like all two-a-days that I've been running all over the field to help the offense any way I can."

Reid's teammates have seen a difference in the 21-year-old Reid.

"He's matured tremendously as a leader," said starting offensive guard David Koenig. "Last year that was something that we were kinda lacking, senior leadership on the offense. This year, he's stepped up and filled that role for us. He's more vocal, more demanding – you've got to do this, you've got to do that. It was more lackidasical last year."

Reid accounted for 2,766 total offensive yards in 2006, and his 411-yard passing performance against Kansas ranks second in school history. He already is seventh all-time with 2,868 passing yards and 13th all-time in total offense. But Gundy expects even more from him as the 2007 opener approaches.

"He's a better player now than he was in the bowl game (last December)," said Gundy, entering his third season as the Cowboy head coach. "He's more mature. He's had a lot of reps in the spring. He's had a lot of reps in preseason camp. He's starting to get a really good feel for what we try to do on offense. He's matured in a lot of areas."

Reid was asked if he expects the Bulldog defense to have a player shadowing his every move on every play. "I'm pretty sure they will, but if they don't I've got to have a field day on Saturday," he said.


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