By ANDREW GLOVER
STILLWATER — On Saturday, Oklahoma State University went against the top rushing defense in the Big 12 — Texas Christian University. Entering the game the Horned Frogs were only allowing 92 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys had no issue gaining yards on the ground, as they gained 147 for an average of 3.7.
“They were a great team. They were a great defense,” junior running back Joseph Randle said. “It’s just a testament to our offensive line to be able to run the ball on them.”
OSU out-rushed TCU by 20 yards and picked up six first downs by running the football. Two of the Pokes three touchdowns were by rushing with Randle and junior Jeremy Smith scoring on one-yard runs. All three Oklahoma State ball carriers had at least one rush of 10 plus yards. Randle led the team with 126 yards on 32 carries for his sixth game this season of 100 yards or more.
Coach Mike Gundy said the effectiveness of the running game was due to freshman quarterback Wes Lunt’s decision making.
“We had 73 plays, and I can only remember a couple of times where (Lunt) wasn’t correct mentally,” Gundy said. “When our quarterback makes good decisions, we have the chance to run the ball effectively. I did feel like our offensive line was physical enough for us to win this game. They were good last week, and I thought they were good in this game of being physical run blockers.”
Saturday wasn’t the first time this season that Oklahoma State was able to run the ball well against a highly-touted rushing defense. On Sept. 29, the Texas Longhorns entered the game only allowing opponents 148 yards per game. Still, the Cowboys posted 275 yards. Randle said it gives the running backs confidence knowing the offensive line can handle tough defenses.
“We are definitely getting a lot of confidence each and every week playing together,” Randle said. “Team chemistry on this team is the best since I’ve been here. It’s a total team effort.”
Junior running back Jeremy Smith, saw an increase in carries Saturday against TCU with seven for seven yards. In the previous three games Smith only carried the ball six times, as he was recovering from an injury he suffered against Texas in the first half. Smith scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal to give OSU the lead for good in the third quarter. It was Smith’s first touchdown since playing Arizona on Sept. 8.
“We hate to come off the field, especially on fourth and short when we think that we can get it,” Smith said. “For the coaches to trust us on that, feels pretty good, so we had to get the job done.”
Saturday’s carries were the most for Smith since touching the ball 12 times against Louisiana on Sept. 15. Gundy said it helps a lot having Smith back running the ball.
“One of the reasons (Randle) was able to play well was because he was able to get out some with 31 (Smith) being back in there,” Gundy said. “Jeremy was back with us and he hasn’t really been with us in three weeks. It makes a difference when you can get Joe off the field some and catch his breath.”
Randle said it was nice having Smith back there.
“He’s another threat,” Randle said. “You have to scheme against him because he will beat you if you don’t take him serious. It’s always nice to have another back, back there.”
While Smith hasn’t seen a lot of game action the last few weeks, offensive coordinator Todd Monken said he has been progressing in practice — which will eventually lead to him getting back to where he was before the injury.
“He was better this past week in practice and I think he will be better this week and will be ready to go against Kansas State,” Monken said. “It’s hard to come out of getting hurt, not playing, kind of hobbling around and then mentally there is a lot of things we put on our running backs to pick up. But if you don’t practice as much, you’re not as efficient. So I think he’ll be even better the more that he practices. But it’s great having him back because he’s a great football player.”
Andrew Glover is a sports reporter for The Stillwater NewsPress.