Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason analysis: Oklahoma State
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Record: 5-1, 2-0 in Big 12 play
The Cowboys started the season with an impressive victory over Georgia that appeared to prove the preseason hype in them was deserved. Then, after rising to No. 5 in the national polls after that victory, they dropped a disappointing 45-35 loss to Houston the following week that turned on two tipped passes. Even worse, Big 12 2008 rushing leader Kendall Hunter was hurt in that game. And after the next game, preseason All-America wide receiver/punt returner Dez Bryant was held out of the last three games after news surfaced that he lied to the NCAA about an offseason meeting with former NFL player Deion Sanders. Many teams would have cratered, but OSU quarterback Zac Robinson has kept the Cowboys focused with a “press on” attitude. Running back Keith Toston and a squadron of wide receivers have filled in for the key missing players. And Bill Young’s defense is showing signs of strong development after shutting out Missouri in the second half to wrap up their most recent victory. OSU is pointed to remain the only legitimate challenger for Texas in the Big 12 South. If they keep playing like in recent weeks, they have a puncher’s chance at an upset Halloween Night in Stillwater.
Offensive MVP, RB Keith Toston: After Hunter’s injury, Toston has stepped up to become the Cowboys’ most consistent offensive threat. Since assuming the starting job, he produced a career game against Texas A&M (130 yards rushing, 74 yards receiving on two catches) and followed that up with a solid effort with 87 yards and 54 receiving yards on seven carries in the victory over Missouri. Toston originally had the starting job in front of Hunter before fumbling woes brought about a switch. The time on the bench apparently has been a good teacher for Toston.
Defensive MVP, Perrish Cox: With the departure of Bryant, Cox has assumed the Cowboys’ kick return duties as well as serving as the key member of the secondary. He leads the Big 12 with an average of 1.8 passes broken up per game and has chipped in with 17 tackles and an interception. Bryant’s absence has enabled Cox to add to his Big 12 career record with 2,496 kick-return yards, providing a key 74-yard return that helped jump-start the victory over Georgia.