September 7, 2008

Backfield thinned after injury

Oklahoma State's new football palace was treated to a fireworks show Saturday night.

The Cowboys beat Houston 56-37 in the first game where the West End Zone of Boone Pickens Stadium was open to the public. It was a tale of two halves for the Pokes, who struggled to score in the first half and then exploded for 28 points in the third quarter alone. Sunday afternoon, head coach Mike Gundy spoke with the media in his weekly teleconference and talked more about the win over the Cougars.

You hear about it all the time in football. One of the key roles for a wide receiver - after catching passes of course - is to make key blocks downfield. There was no greater example of that than on Saturday when Damien Davis made not one, but two key blocks in a Dez Bryant touchdown score.

"I saw it live because it was right in front of us," Gundy said. "I don't know that I've ever seen that in open space. I've seen guys do that in the interior but not in open space. It was really a nice job."

Artrell Woods was caught up in a funky situation on a block and hurt his knee. Jeray Chatham was dinged up but came back. And Lucien Antoine suffered a season-ending ACL tear. It's an injury that will hurt depth in the secondary, as he was listed as the No. 2 player at free safety, backing up starter Quinton Moore. Gundy said that means T.J. Bell - little brother of Tatum - will move up in the depth chart and become a factor on defense. But does it also mean that untested and raw freshmen (like Johnny Thomas) have to step up as well?

"Not sure yet," Gundy said. "Relying on true freshman is not really something I get too fired up about but it looks like we're going to have to get one of them ready to play. I don't think they're ready to play - I'm almost positive they're not, or they would have already played. But when you have injuries at certain positions that are season-ending then you generally have to get a freshman ready to be a backup."

As for Bell, a senior out of DeSoto, Texas?

"You'd have to ask coach Beck and those guys in how far he's come this year," Gundy said. "Like I said, I haven't met with the defensive guys yet so I haven't gotten much feedback on how things went. But he'll certainly have to play now. Unfortunately, we're back to getting to where we're a little thin in the secondary."

The performances of Bryant and Kendall Hunter Saturday night were pretty amazing. Their games helped spark a giant third quarter and erased a forgettable first half from the offense. So what did the play-caller think about things on that side of the ball?

"I thought we played pretty well," Gundy said. "The offensive line played good. Zac played better in the second half and the backs and receivers made a lot of plays. (Brandon) Pettigrew played good and blocked good."

Through three quarters, only Bryant and Pettigrew caught passes. By game's end, the only other player to join those two was Hunter. What about other receivers?

"We've got plays designed to get the ball to everybody," he said. "For the most part what happened yesterday is when those guys caught the pass they scored. And they were big plays. We didn't attempt very many passes yesterday. I think it was like 24 maybe."

It was actually only 21. Robinson completed 14 of those attempts for three scores, but also tossed two interceptions in the first half.

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