We're continuing our look at some of the major position groups for Oklahoma State. This week we'll look at the "Cowboy Back" position. As most of you know, the Cowboy back is a tight end/fullback hybrid that the Pokes have debuted this season. Former Montana State offensive line coach Jason McEndoo was brought on to coach the group and actually coined the term.
The Cowboy backs includes Jeremy Seaton, Blake Jarwin and Zac Veatch as the main rotation players. Seaton is a senior who has played fullback and tight end. He's a good blocker from the backfield and has soft hands. Blake Jarwin broke out last season as a dependable receiver from the tight end spot who at 6-feet-5-inches, causes match up issues for most linebackers and safeties. Zac Veatch started most of last season at right guard due to depth issues on the offensive line but is back to a more natural position for his size.
"We'll continue to take one a year for that Cowboy back," OSU coach Mike Gunday said. "The 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, 260 pound, 265 pound guy... It's a really good opportunity for them if they desire to play in the NFL, if they can play on the line and in the backfield."
The idea is simple. Find guys that can fill the role of either a tight end or a fullback. Players big enough to block but still athletic enough and with good enough hands to cause a mismatch in the passing game. So how has it worked so far?
The Cowboys backs have been on the field quite a bit. Sometimes, two at a time. We have seen them featured in the passing game some. Seaton, Jarwin and Veatch have all contributed for big plays. While I don't see this group getting a ton of catches given OSU's receiver depth, I think they'll continue to make timely snags as the season goes on.
A good tight end can be a young quarterback's best friend. Blake Jarwin can line up on the end, make an initial block before threading out for a quick pass. This not only gives the QB an additional target but can pull defenders away from the middle of the field.
As far as the running game goes, this offensive line needs all the help it can get. Oklahoma State needs to be able to run the ball to be successful, no matter who is at quarterback. Aside from the NCAA implementing free agency, I don't see the line improving to elite status this year. So it's up to the coaching staff to try and make up for some of that. I think you have to try to use the Cowboy backs to help with that. Maybe you run more power plays with Seaton as a lead blocker. On some snaps, he may just need to stay back and be Mason's body guard. I'm only kidding, sort of.
The Cowboy backs have yet to run the ball this season.This is mostly due to the use the Walsh package on short yardage and goal line scenarios where you would normally see fullbacks get the ball. But they are still important for these schemes, blocking and catching the ball. Seaton has shown to be a good target in the red zone with two touchdowns so far.
It's becoming pretty clear that Oklahoma State has some offensive issues. Most of those issues are due to poor pass and run protection. Maybe they should just put Zac Veatch back at right guard. (I was kidding on that one).
So while they are trying to work that out, they have to get a little creative. The Cowboy back needs to be used like a Swiss army knife of sorts. That great multi use tool that, when in a pinch, you can cut your steak, open a can and pick your teeth with.
It's going to be interesting (if not stressful) to see how this offense bounces back. It's time for the coaching staff to do what it can to make things easier on that side of the ball. At least they have something versatile in their toolbox.