- David Ubben, College Football
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Joseph Randle had a career game in Oklahoma State's 61-34 season-opening win over Louisiana- Lafayette, running for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
His first 100-yard rushing game came in his first-ever start, and his two scores equaled his rushing total from his freshman year in 2010.
Oklahoma State will need a whole lot more of that from Randle very soon.
"He has to step up to that role now," coach Mike Gundy said. "He has to be that guy that we lean on."
Gundy loved the versatility that Randle brought his offense last season with Kendall Hunter busy topping 1,500 yards for the second time in three years.
Randle caught 37 passes for 427 yards and his lone receiving touchdown was a game-changer early on in a win over Texas A&M. Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray was the only running back in the Big 12 with more receptions in 2010.
But now, he'll have to do everything.
"We need him to make plays for us, we need him to protect well in our throwing game," Gundy said. "He needs to be able to convert short yardages, and when we get him the ball in space on normal down and distances, he has to be able to make guys miss."
He did that well as a freshman, but now, if nothing else, he's earned the respect of his offensive line.
"I love blocking for Joe because he encourages the linemen a lot, and he really appreciates the blocks that he gets," center Grant Garner told reporters this week. "He can definitely be explosive when he runs."
Randle has bulked up this offseason, adding 10-12 pounds after going through a second year in Oklahoma State's strength and conditioning program with coach Rob Glass.
What Randle hasn't done is change his running style.
"That’s stuff that’s established at 8 or 10 years old, so his running style has remained consistent," Gundy said.
Randle's explosiveness makes him special, though. Combine that with his bigger frame, and we could see a big season from the sophomore get a kickstart, despite all the attention paid to the high profile quarterbacks and receivers in tonight's game against Arizona on ESPN.
"Good running backs turn 6-8 yard runs into 18-28 yard runs," Gundy said, "and that’s what we’re expecting him to do this fall."
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