After Oklahoma State’s convincing 52-36 victory over the Oregon State Beavers last Friday night, they play an even lesser opponent tomorrow as they host FCS foe McNeese State.
Games like these are often lacking in excitement, but they can be beneficial for both teams in terms of correcting past issues and improving for the rest of the season. Oklahoma State has some star talent on both sides of the ball, but there are some other players who will need to step up if the Cowboys want to exceed expectations for the season.
Offense | RB LD Brown
Sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard is the workhorse of the Oklahoma State offense, but in a potential (probable) blowout game, sophomore backup running back LD Brown needs to be ready for some extra snaps.
In last week’s game against Oregon State, Brown carried the ball just 7 times for 8 yards compared to Hubbard’s 26 carries for 221 yards. Brown did score a touchdown, but Hubbard racked up 3 scores.
Tomorrow’s game is an ideal opportunity for Brown to take advantage of some potential extra carries. I anticipate that he and Hubbard will share the load as head coach Mike Gundy will want to rest Hubbard and remove any further risk of injury once the game begins to get out of hand.
If LD Brown ends up getting 15-20 carries and finds some level of success, he could find himself implemented into the offense more often as season continues.
Defense | DE Trace Ford
Freshman defensive end Trace Ford finished the season opener with just a single tackle, but he made a couple of clutch defensive plays that lend to the belief that he has the potential to grow into a star.
Ford had two batted passes at the line of scrimmage while adding a quarterback hurry, as well, which shows how athletic the freshman can be on the edge of the line. Mike Gundy compared him to former Oklahoma State defensive end Jordan Brailford, who is now playing in the NFL for the Washington Redskins.
“He moves around like Brailford does,” Gundy said. “We feel like he’s athletic enough to move around and do some things we did with Jordan.”
The defensive line is the big question mark for this Cowboy defense, but if Ford can continue to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks while continuing to bat balls down at the line of scrimmage, the defense should be just fine.
Special Teams | PR Dillon Stoner
Junior wide receiver Dillon Stoner has made a name for himself in Stillwater as a reliable slot receiver, but he’s also done a solid job at returning punts.
In 28 games for his Oklahoma State career, Stoner has returned just 23 punts. The reason for so few returns is two-fold: for one, the Cowboys don’t force teams to punt a lot, and secondly, most punt returns are called for a fair catch.
For those 23 returns, however, Stoner has an average of 5.3, which may not sound like much, but he’s consistent and takes care of the ball, which is evident by his 0 career fumbles.
A lesser opponent like McNeese State could find themselves in trouble when they have to punt multiple times to a quality returner. If Stoner gets a little bit of space, he just might be able to break one loose tomorrow.