However, the open week can't get here soon enough for the Cowboys. It's been a long time since I can remember as many nicks, bruises, bangs, etc., to start an Oklahoma State football season. This Cowboys football team is beat up and will greatly benefit from a week without a game.
Besides the injuries that the Cowboys will have a chance to heal up, there are also several points of emphasis for Mike Gundy and his staff to address before conference play begins. It really doesn't matter what all the reasons are but in the Big 12, Oklahoma State has to run the football successfully.
That means not only getting Kendall Hunter well, but getting the "now you see me, now you don't" running style back for Hunter. Keith Toston is a hammer, Beau Johnson is a mixture, and if anybody can't get it then maybe it is time to take a look at freshman Jeremy Smith. I get the feeling that when he is finally unleashed that Smith is going to be special.
The offensive line has to get its act together, and if Lane Taylor is the answer at right guard and stays in there then maybe the rhythm of those five will be at its best so far when the Cowboys get to College Station.
Dez Bryant and Perrish Cox are day-to-day, which can mean just about anything from playing against Grambling to being on the shelf for a month. We'll see on Saturday, but having them ready for the Aggies is pretty important. The Cowboys could win without them but with them the whole proposition of working toward the Big 12 South and staying in the top 25 in college football becomes a lot more simple and easy.
Let's hope that the only reason we have to remember Grambling on Saturday night is because of the great halftime show by the Grambling State Tigers Marching Band. Then it is time for the open week. Yippee!
"I am not as concerned with the running game at this point," said head coach Mike Gundy. "We have two new guards playing and we are bringing those guys along each week. The guys playing tailback gave us some good touch yards, but when Kendall Hunter is in there and breaks a 60-yarder it pushes up the yards per carry average up a little bit. We are thrilled with the guys we have in there but it is a little different when Kendall is in there obviously, he is an All-American."
The only problem is before he got hurt Kendall wasn't looking like the All-American he was a season ago. He was looking more like the back that showed up after minor knee surgery at the Holiday Bowl. Actually, it is unfair to blame Hunter and everybody involved seems to understand that just like success is a group effort, so is the struggle.
"There have been plays where I've made the wrong cut and didn't get in the hole quick enough and it closed on me. There have been plays where the guard or tackle might not pull fast enough, and there have been plays when we've actually broke and the receiver might have missed the block downfield," explained the hard running Keith Toston. "It's pretty much everything, but we're addressing it and continuing to get better."
"I think it comes back down to communication," added center Andrew Lewis. "Everybody's got to be on the same page. On the offensive line, when I make a point, everybody has got to know what they are doing. We have to have everybody blocked up."
Nobody is ducking responsibility which is a great sign. Lane Taylor appears to have won the right guard job because he knows the assignments and has a comfort level in the offense. While the redshirt freshman may be physically overmatched at times, with work on his technique and support from his fellow offensive linemen he can improve very quickly.
That's a good thing because the tradition at Oklahoma State is never to go very long without a 100-yard back in a game. Three games at the start of the season, well, that's too long.
"It seems like in seasons past, it's taken a few games to finally get the offense going," said Lewis. "Hopefully, this game, the offense will start clicking on all cylinders and we'll do well. It's our offensive line's job to have a running back go over 100 yards rushing. We do take that personally. We want to keep on grinding."
Jones has still found ways to be helpful from running scout team to being the top recruiting host in the program. Last week against Rice he got to do what he'd been wanting to, Jones sacked the quarterback and raised some havoc in the Rice backfield from forcing a lost yardage pass play to deflecting a pass to just hurrying the Owl quarterbacks.
"It felt great to be on the field and play football with my teammates and have fun, to just play the game that I love," said very personable Jones. "That sack was one of the best feelings I've had in my life. If it wasn't for the other 10 guys, I wouldn't have gotten it, but it felt wonderful."
Jones has stuck with it. It hasn't been easy because at one point the improvement was coming in small increments.
"I've never wanted to quit, but it's been a long, rough road," continued Jones. "I broke my hip my senior year of high school and I had to recover from that. It was a long road because I wasn't the same player that I was in high school coming into college. I didn't have the same mobility that I had, or the same strength or speed. I had to build myself back up."
Jones loves to be in the middle of things, so as his teammates kidded him and showered him with nicknames like "Sack Monster," "Mr. Sacker," "Master Sack," and others Jones just eats it up. Okay, the guy loves attention.
"He does most of it himself," said fellow defensive end Ugo Chinasa when asked if he had any compliments for Jones. "He deserves it, he got to the quarterback and so did (Jamie) Blatnick. We all need to get to the quarterback."
The great thing about Jones is he will just as easily brag on his teammates as he will himself. In Richetti Jones's world, the more the merrier. When it comes to sacks, Gundy, defensive coordinator Bill Young, and Cowboy fans are all for that happening. It'd be nice to have a bunch of sack monsters running around Stillwater.