Oklahoma State football: Continuity is key for Cowboys

Team that routed UA in 2010 now ranked a school-best No. 9
2011-09-07T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:43:52Z Oklahoma State football: Continuity is key for CowboysPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 07, 2011 12:00 am  • 

First, for the Arizona Wildcats, the good news: The offensive mastermind behind Oklahoma State's best season ever is gone from Stillwater. He's now the head coach at West Virginia.

And running back Kendall Hunter, the only Cowboys player to touch the ball more than the quarterback or center in OSU's 36-10 Alamo Bowl trouncing of the UA, is under the employ of the San Francisco 49ers.

Now the bad news entering Thursday's bowl rematch: The Cowboys' offensive changes since the Dec. 29 shellacking end there.

"If you look at what we do," quarterback Brandon Weeden said, "it's all the exact same."

Continuity has earned OSU a No. 9 ranking, the highest in school history.

The Cowboys returned all five starting offensive linemen from last season, plus two absolute stars.

Weeden - who has posted five of OSU's top 10 all-time passing yardage games, despite starting only 14 games - decided to return for his senior year instead of leaving for the NFL.

So did Justin Blackmon, who has 13 straight games with at least 100 receiving yards, an NCAA record.

The Cowboys kept most of their offensive scheme intact under new coordinator Todd Monken. Plays and terminology are similar to what they were under Dana Holgorsen, the new West Virginia boss.

"It's kept us on the same kind of track," said sophomore Joseph Randle, the team's new featured running back. "We could just make modifications and change things he wanted to change."

There was little reason for tweaking.

OSU was third in the nation last year with 44.2 points and 520.2 yards per game.

Saturday, the Cowboys gained 666 yards, the most in Division I-A. Their 61 points were sixth-most in the nation.

Could the Cowboys offense be better this year?

"I think, potentially, we can," Weeden said. "Because we have all the pieces back, and we're all a year more experienced.

"We've got a ton of guys that can make a ton of plays."

Had Weeden been forced to learn a new scheme, he said, "it would have been tough when deciding" whether to stay or leave for the NFL. He said Blackmon felt the same way.

"Coach Monken left the NFL and put his ego aside to not bring in his own style and his own offense," Weeden said. "He saw how much success we had."

Monken described small tweaks to reporters after Saturday's victory.

He "changed the way we signal, to a certain extent," and introduced new concepts, with Weeden's input.

"There's a number of things they did in the past that I think would be silly to change," he said.

Randle, one of the significant new pieces, ran for a career-high 129 yards Saturday in replacing Hunter.

He credited Hunter with teaching him "how to work hard and how to prepare for games" as a reserve last year.

Randle said he expects the Wildcats "to give us their best shot," while Weeden called Arizona "a great football team."

The Cowboys won't overlook the UA, despite the bowl blowout.

That's a sign of experience - and of continuity.

"We do realize that we have the highest ranking in school history," Weeden said. "No one just gave it to us.

"We wanted to bring our program to that level.

"The only way to do that is to continue doing what we're doing."

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 4 0 0.714
USC 6 3 0 0.667 9 4 0 0.692
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 13 2 0 0.867
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 8 5 0 0.615
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 6 0 0.571
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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