Another Starter Down, Another Adjustment

Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Larry Fedora warned me before the start of the season not to expect this offense to be the same as last season. It is a different group with a few different players, and each season takes on its own chemistry. Fedora has learned from years of coaching, and unfortunately he is right that things never stay the same.

A good example came Monday as the Cowboys were finishing up practice. Dr. Mark Pascale, the team's orthopedic specialist, arrived back at the practice field after setting starting center David Washington's lower right leg in a cast.

Washington becomes the fourth starter expected to be in this offense to go down or be changed. Running back Dantrell Savage is still sidelined indefintiely with a muscle injury, wide receiver Artrell Woods is still working on the side following his weight-room mishap this summer, and Bobby Reid is now backing up starting quarterback Zac Robinson.

"I think Andrew Lewis is going to step up and be the starting center and I think Steven Denning will move into the guard spot," Fedora said of the offensive line adjustment. "All that stuff is thought out in advance as to what we're going to do if that happens in a game. We knew what we wanted to do and that is probably the way we'll go.

"Anytime you lose a three-year starter it's a concern, especially at that position because he makes all the calls for us. He gets everybody lined up on the right people. I have confidence in Andrew Lewis. He got enough reps in spring and I think he'll be fine."

Lewis said, "It really doesn't make a big difference for me. I played center for three years in high school and I worked a lot there this spring. I am comfortable there. It hurts because David was a big part of us as a group and we will miss him a lot."

Fedora has seen the offensive personality keep changing and he's not happy with the changes.

"I'm frustrated with the offense, with everybody," said Fedora bluntly. "There is nobody I'm going to sit in here and say I think is playing at the level I think they need to be playing. I'm frustrated with a lot of things, as well as I know the players are frustrated. We have a lot of work to do and we need to get going in the right direction. We have to eliminate the penalties. There is no excuse for that. Obviously, the turnovers, and if we get those two things corrected, then we have a chance."

While not knowing when Savage will be back, not knowing when Keith Toston will overcome the turnover demon, and still waiting for Julius Crosslin to hit his full stride coming off injury, the most readily available back to balance the offense has been freshman Kendall Hunter. Fedora says he is gaining confidence in the young freshman.

"Every week and every rep I am gaining more confidence in what he can do," said Fedora. "He is still a freshman, and I think on every run you've seen him run so far, you are just seeing 75 percent of Kendall Hunter because he is having to think on everything he is doing. He is thinking and then reacting instead of doing what comes naturally. I just think the future is going to be really bright with him."

Fedora also has confidence in Robinson as he prepares to make his second start at quarterback. While many have speculated that the move has caused dissension, Fedora says Bobby Reid has taken the high road and maintained the same relationship with Robinson and with his teammates, who elected him a captain.

"I think it is very much the way it has been," said Fedora. "You're out there as much as I am, hasn't that been what you've seen?

"I think you are seeing the maturity level from Bobby," added Fedora. "He understands what is going on and he is still competing at the position. He is still working hard and he is a captain. He understands the responsibility and knows he is either going to lead positive or negatively. He has chosen to lead this team positively."

Reid, Robinson, Hunter, Bowman and the offensive line, with Andrew Lewis at center and Steven Denning plugged in at guard, all need positive vibes. The offense needs to be responsible and explosive on Saturday if the the Cowboys are going to right the ship and get a turnaround win over Texas Tech, a team that's offense does seem to look the same and produce the same each year.

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