Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE
Little did we know, and probably neither did J.W., that this would be his last game of the season. The performance will likely go down in Cowboy lore.
It's amazing what two football seasons can do to a fan base.
Anything under 600 yards of total offense...something is wrong.
Anything under 40 points...what's the matter with this offense.
Injuries? He'll be back in a week or two.
That last one has come back to bite Oklahoma State.
After two seasons of relatively minor injuries, at least nothing major or season ending for the main players, the Cowboys have been riddled with the kind of calamities that can derail a season.
Starting QB out during game 3 with knee & ankle injuries.
Starting outside receivers both out after game 5 with leg and hand injuries.
One of 2 main running backs struggling with an ankle injury, has played only a couple of snaps in last two games.
Most teams would be devastated.
Oklahoma State just keeps rolling.
Insert backup QB, who is now #7 in the country in passer rating.
Insert backup outside receiver who goes for almost 200 yards in the last two games.
Starting RB steps up and carries the load normally split between two players.
Now, just when it seems the offense is finding a rhythm and an identity, guess what?
Seldom used senior tight end has career high in receiving yards, and his college career is done in by an injured Achilles tendon.
Talented backup QB is out for the season with a knee injury. There has been some discussion about conflicting reports, with the player's father reportedly saying that the QB would be out 4-5 weeks. With only 6 weeks left in the regular season, that's pretty much season ending. Even if he returned, it would not be prudent to insert him in his prior backup role when another player has gotten the majority of reps for that position over the past month.
Never mind all that. The offense will keep rolling. OSU still controls it's own destiny in defense of it's 2011 Big 12 title, and many have been clammering for the original starting QB to come back. It is no secret that he is better suited to run the offense Cowboy fans have grown accustomed to watching. He has been declared "ready to play if needed" the past two weeks, but coaches have elected to keep him out pending a decision on a possible medical redshirt for him, given the success of the backup. Welcome back, Mr. Lunt. Now let's hope he was really "ready to play." If not, OSU has an old/new 2nd string QB that I've argued could be a starter elsewhere in Div 1. I know 2 teams in the Big 12 that would likely do something very illegal right now to acquire him.
A troop of young receivers will be asked to take up the slack in that position group, but the Cowboys have 4 very dependable targets that are currently healthy, so it's not going to be all on the youngsters.
The catch is the running game. The Cowboys pretty much have Joseph Randle. Jeremy Smith is obviously suffering from a fairly significant ankle/foot injury of some type. He has limped noticeably off the field in each of the last two games after only 1 or 2 plays. Desmond Roland was off the depth chart for a week, presumably for an injury, but reappeared against Iowa State for a few plays. Walsh provided at least some option, and was in fact the second leading rusher behind Randle. Lunt is much more in the mold of Weeden in this regard, and that's NOT a compliment.
Some of the trepidation with injuries has been the veil of secrecy Gundy and staff have hidden behind. A very generic description is generally all that is given, and nothing further is discussed. We have no idea the exact nature of the damage, nor how long they expect the player to be sidelined.
While the injury bug may cause this season to stumble it's way to the end, we should be thankful for the past couple of seasons, Boone's money, and Gundy's recruiting.
Because right now, those things are all that stand between maintaining a winning tradition or mucking about in the bottom of the Big 12 in 2012.