If there was anything positive to takeaway from Saturday's game in Morgantown, it was Josh Stewart's effectiveness as a receiver. That shouldn't come as a surprise, seeing as he's on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List and a member of the Preseason All-Big 12 Football Team, but, other than his big punt return against Lamar, that tunnel screen in the first quarter was basically the first time we've seen him get the ball with a lot of room to work this season.
In my mind, that has to change going forward. As Robert and I discussed on the podcast, this team lacks an identity right now. There is no play, formation or player that we have had consistent success with so far this season. The problem is that Stewart is more than capable of being a guy that carries the offense, but we really haven't seen the Pokes take full advantage of his skillset.
Take a look at how many touches per game OSU's three best receivers in recent history averaged during their most active statistical years.
|Player||Catches||Yards||Receptions per Game|
|Dez Bryant (So.)||87||1480||6.7|
|Justin Blackmon (Jr.)||121||1522||9.3|
|Josh Stewart (So.)||101||1210||
This season Stewart has 19 catches through four games (4.75 touches per game), and that includes two games against cupcake opponents in which he only had eight combined receptions. Keep in mind that Oklahoma State does not have a second standout playmaker outside of Stewart that the rest of the touches are going to. In 2008, Kendall Hunter and Brandon Pettigrew complimented Bryant, in 2011 Joseph Randle and Josh Cooper complimented Blackmon and Randle was still around last season to work with Stewart.
The Pokes are struggling to figure out what kind of team they are right now, and during this period of introspection, they should be leaning on Stewart to spark the offense every time they have the ball. Quite simply, five touches a game is not enough for the team's best offensive player.
Now, Stewart is certainly not comparable to Bryant or Blackmon in his ability to line up outside and win every route against man, zone or bracket coverage, but he is somebody that can be screened open very easily (as we saw with the tunnel screen). He's best cast as a slot receiver, and that bodes well for him seeing as J.W. Walsh prefers to play on a condensed field. Whether it's screens, stick routes, quick slants or even the occasional seam route, there are several different ways to get Stewart the ball in space.
I know the coaching staff may want to get Tracy Moore involved in the offense, but they can work on establishing a second receiver as a consistent threat once they start taking full advantage of the most dynamic player on team: Josh Stewart.