Gundy: Troy Will Be Better Challenge

STILLWATER - Mike Gundy was among the doubters a year ago. It shocked some when the Oklahoma State head coach questioned why running back Kendall Hunter was still unable to play last season after six weeks on the sideline with an ankle injury. Hunter, however, put to rest any doubts about his health in the 2010 season opener with a 257-yard performance in OSU's 65-17 win over Washington State.

"You never really know because it was an ankle injury," Gundy said during his Monday news conference when asked if Hunter's effort against Washington State was any indication of how hurt he may have been for much of the 2009 season.

"We were getting a little frustrated through weeks six, seven and eight because we thought he would come back. Our training staff was getting frustrated, (and) Kendall was frustrated. It must have been a more severe ankle injury than what we thought. Hopefully he can stay healthy and have a great season. There's probably some truth to that, it must have been more severe than we thought," Gundy added.

The senior from Tyler, Texas has moved up to eighth on the school's career rushing list with 2,890 yards, and will overtake former Cowboy Gerald Hudson (1988-90) for No. 7 on the all-time rushing chart with 32 yards in Saturday's game against Troy at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Hunter will enter the Cowboys' second game of the season as the nation's leading rusher. If he stays healthy, he could easily become one of the top four rushers in OSU history, joining Thurman Thomas (4,595 yards), Terry Miller (4,581) and David Thompson (4,314). With 667 rushing yards he will surpass No. 4 Barry Sanders (3,556), No. 5 Ernest Anderson (3,529) and No. 6 Tatum Bell (3,409).

"It'll be based on how people play us," Gundy said when asked if he thinks Hunter will rush for 1,425 yards to break Thomas's all-time rushing record.

"But what we do now is really no different than what we did the last few years here in rush-pass (ratio). It's going to be based on how people play us. To a certain extent they'll be able to dictate what we do. Hopefully, we're good enough in both areas that we can be successful.

"If you asked Kendall, I'm not even sure he would even know that he's involved in that chase for those records, which is a good thing."

Gundy says the Cowboys will definitely face a better defense this Saturday then they did in the season opener. Troy allowed only 108 rushing yards in its 30-27 victory over Bowling Green last week.

Troy middle linebacker Xavier Lamb led the Trojans with 10 tackles while strong safety Willard Ross added eight.

The OSU head coach says Troy's first-team offense and first-team defense are "very similar to most of the teams (we play in the Big12). I would caution to ever say that teams could just jump up there athletically with the top two or three teams in the country, the top BCS schools, but the middle of the pack in most leagues in the country, they'd be right there with everybody."

But while holding Bowling Green to an average of 4.3 rushing yards per play and 329 total yards is one thing, stopping Hunter, Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon may be another.

"I wouldn't have thought we'd be able to run for that many yards (291 on 44 rushes) and accumulate that amount of points in that short amount of time, but I was pleased," Gundy said of the Cowboys' opener. "Again, I would only caution everybody that we're going to play more speed as we go through the year. I hope the best for Washington State but we were able to expose them in space some. We'll have a greater challenge this week."


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