Frogs set clock back
It’s been nearly 15 years since Oklahoma State faced a new conference opponent. But on Saturday, when Texas Christian University makes the trip up to Stillwater, the Cowboys will get their first look at one of two first-year Big 12 Conference foes.
“It’s a little different. I’ve been playing for four years now so it will be a little different going up against guys that I’ve never competed against," said senior offensive lineman Lane Taylor.
Sophomore linebacker Lyndell Johnson was actually recruited by TCU. Johnson, who is from Plano, Texas, has several high school friends on the Horned Frogs team.
“I know a lot of people that go there that I played against in high school, so I’ll be doing some trash talking with them during the week then get the opportunity to go out there in the game showcase myself,” Johnson said.
While it will be different for the players, OSU coach Mike Gundy said his coaching staff is already well familiar with the TCU players.
“We know who they are,” Gundy said. “We recruit the same players. Their philosophies haven’t really changed that much. I mentioned their defense earlier. Their offense is we are going to spread you out and run speed option, run some reverses, play pass, run inside zone, read zone, throw the ball downfield, run some nakeds on the perimeter. That part stayed consistent.”
Oklahoma State running backs coach Jemal Singleton has some history with the TCU program. Singleton played football for Air Force in the last ‘90s, when the Falcons were in the same conference as the Horned Frogs, and coached at his alma mater from 2006 through 2010.
“The players there really take on the personality of their head coach,” he said. “Even on the offensive side of the ball, you can see some things of a defensive-minded head coach with how they structure things offensively.”
Wide receiver woes
It isn’t just the Oklahoma State quarterback position that has been plagued by injuries this season — it’s also the wide receiver. A plethora of injuries have turned what was once the Cowboys’ deepest position into an area of concern.
“It’s been a little tough,” Oklahoma State junior wide receiver Charlie Moore said. “The receiving room has been a little thin, but hopefully Isaiah (Anderson) should be back soon. What’s been tough is getting everybody prepared to step up and getting the young guys to start their first games.”
The Cowboys’ receiving corps took another blow last week when receiver Justin Horton went down with what appeared to be a season-ending injury, according to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.
The loss of Horton adds even more pressure on the young, inexperienced players like Moore and sophomore Josh Stewart to step up and make plays.
“We’ve already lost so many guys already, to lose a guy like (Horton) is real tough,” Stewart said. “You don’t even see this happen a lot at all, losing so many key players. But then again, you just have to move on, keep practicing hard and motivate ourselves for injuries like this. It hurts us, but we’re definitely going to step up and deal with it and take responsibility.
“We have to step up. That’s just how it goes. When somebody goes down, you have to be able to step up. I think right now we’re doing a good job of that.”
There’s a huge difference in filling the void for the team’s third or fourth target and becoming the go-to guy. But Moore — a former high school quarterback — has handled the pressure nicely the last two weeks with two 70-plus yard touchdowns.
“Everybody wants to be that go-to guy,” Moore said. “You want to have the ball in your hands and you want to make plays. When a guy like Tracy (Moore) or Isaiah goes down, everybody moves up a notch. The coaches start to expect more out of you and it makes you raise your game to a new level.”