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From The Oklahoman

The Oklahoman (from Oklahoma City) is the largest newspaper (by far) in Oklahoma:

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OSU Notebook

By Mike Baldwin
The Oklahoman

QB Update
When Donovan Woods was quarterback for 48 snaps, OSU's offense averaged 5.6 yards a play. During Bobby Reid's 17 plays, the offense averaged 6.9. Coach Mike Gundy was asked on Sunday if playing time will be closer to 50-50 on Thursday night.
"It's hard to tell," Gundy said. "It's hard for me to predict that. We'll have to wait and see what happens."

Scouting report
Florida Atlantic's offense is similar to OSU's pro style scheme under Les Miles. Two backs. One tight end. Sprint draws. Toss sweeps. Play-action passes. In a 30-19 loss at Kansas, FAU senior quarterback Danny Embick completed 20 of 28 passes for 299 yards and three TDs.

"I'm not sure he's better than the guy we played (Saturday) night," Gundy said, referring to Montana State quarterback Travis Lulay (22-of-34 for 205 yards). "They had pressure on (Embick) and he made plays off his back foot. He made plays on the run. He's good. They talked about losing their quarterback and this would be a down year."

Cut back
Gundy said running backs Mike Hamilton and Julius Crosslin ran hard but reminded him of Tatum Bell early in his career.

"His sophomore year, Tatum would get in the open field a lot but not make a cut and go," Gundy said. "He would get tackled in (open) space. Eventually, we would like those backs to make somebody miss and go score."

OSU's agenda
Due to a short week, the Cowboys are practicing on Sunday and today, have a light workout on Tuesday and fly to Miami on Wednesday.

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Sep 6, 2005

OSU Notebook

In the trenches: Coaches are being careful with defensive end Nathan Peterson, who underwent knee surgery 10 months ago. Peterson played only 14 snaps in the opener but was productive in limited action (three tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack). Coach Mike Gundy said Peterson could play 25 to 30 snaps on Thursday against Florida Atlantic.
Defensive tackle Xavier Lawson-Kennedy played a career-high 35 snaps, recorded a career-high three tackles, one tackle for loss and a half a sack.

?(Lawson-Kennedy) is coming around,? Gundy said. ?He?s not the finished product. He?s not a threat in this league right now. But he?s a lot better than he was. If he continues to be very selective in what he eats and controls his diet, he can become more of a force. He?s not there, yet, but he?s working on it.?

In the corner: Sophomore cornerback Martel Van Zant didn?t practice on Monday. It appears Van Zant will be sidelined by a severely sprained ankle for the second consecutive week. Grant Jones started against Montana State, but true freshman Calvin Mickens played the majority of the game. Van Zant will start when he?s fully healed, but Mickens provides insurance.

?Our coaches were excited about what Calvin did,? Gundy said. ?There were times he got beat on some things, but most of his mistakes were alignment errors. He played hard, ran to the ball and made some good breaks on the ball when it was in the air. Our coaches feel good about his future.?

Lead the way: Led by Lawrence Pinson (nine tackles) and Paul Duren (eight), four senior linebackers combined for 21 tackles in the opener. The quartet could top that total on Thursday night. Florida Atlantic features a traditional pro set offense similar to the offense the Cowboys ran under Les Miles.

?This game will be much more physical,? said linebackers coach Todd Bradford. ?It will be more smash mouth. They also have speed on the outside. They?ll try to throw the ball over your head. Our (linebackers) played pretty well but made some first-game mistakes. What I liked most is we hustled. That minimized some plays that broke out where we limited them to 10-yard runs instead of 20 or 30.?

The A team: Even though OSU?s game is on ESPN2 (Cox 28), the cable network?s top broadcasting team (Mike Tirico and Kirk Herbstreit) will call the action Thursday night. This is the Cowboys? 26th televised game since 2002. It?s OSU?s first regular-season appearance on ESPN since Miles? debut, the 2001 season opener at Southern Mississippi.

New formation: The Cowboys are using a new punt formation common in the Mountain West. On punts, OSU?s linemen line up one yard apart. In the backfield, John Johnson, Chase Holland and Duren form a triangle to block for punter Matt Fodge.

?It?s a better way to cover than the tight formation people are more familiar with,? Gundy said. ?We made that change in July. We?re still in the learning phase to a certain degree. We have a good idea of the pros and cons. It was effective (Saturday) night. The uncertainty is you don?t know how opponents will (react).?

Sparkling debut: For the first time in his 15-year career, Gundy said a true freshman did not have one ?lack of effort? in a debut. Wide receiver Ricky Price played 56 snaps and graded well despite having only one reception. Price currently is one of OSU?s top four wideouts, along with D?Juan Woods, Luke Frazier and Tommy Devereaux.

By Mike Baldwin

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Montana State might be OSU?s toughest non-conference game


By Mike Baldwin
The Oklahoman

6 P.M. SATURDAY


Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater

KXXY-FM 96.1
Scouting MONTANA STATE

Coach: Mike Kramer (sixth season 25-34).

Last year?s record: 6-5

Offense: One-back, multiple.

Defense: 3-4

Players to watch: QB Travis Lulay has started 32 consecutive games, thrown for 8,117 yards and was a first-team all-conference punter (42.2 average)… LB Mac Mollohan led the team in tackles (86) and is two-time All-Big Sky… OT Jeff Bolton was named second-team All-American by AP… LB Clive Lowe moves to outside linebacker in a new 3-4 scheme… SS Ryan Force was third on the team in tackles (64)… RB Justin Domineck rushed for 736 yards and had 260 receiving yards… WR Rick Gatewood (64 catches, 995 yards) is academically ineligible the first three games, but WR Chaz Guinn had 51 catches last season and WR Tramaine Murray transferred from Washington State.

Key stat: MSU?s Travis Lulay attempted 490 passes last season, OSU?s Donovan Woods 187.

Extra points: MSU?s campus in Bozeman actually is closer to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming (81 miles) than it is to Helena (94) or Billings (141)… Actor Gary Cooper, star of Pride of the Yankees,, attended MSU… The Bobcats have three national titles - the Division II national championship in 1976; I-AA national title in 1984; the NAIA title in 1956… Late Late Show host Craig Kilborn, a former ESPN SportsCenter anchor, was a part-time starter on the MSU basketball team in 1986.

By Mike Baldwin

STILLWATER – Oklahoma State players flunked the pop quiz. What is Montana State?s nickname? Which conference do they play in? Name the quarterback. What city is the campus located? Who is the head coach?

Linebacker Lawrence Pinson and safety Jamie Thompson correctly guessed Bobcats. Pinson?s answer on MSU?s quarterback (Lovar) was close (Travis Lulay). Bobby Reid correctly named the Big Sky Conference. No one knew Mike Kramer was the head coach. As for the campus, one guess was Saint Helen?s. The correct response: Bozeman, Mont.

So why should fans - or players for that matter - get excited about OSU?s season opener Saturday night against a Division I-AA team?

?It?s not so much who we play, it?s how we play,? Pinson said. ?We?ve changed a lot of things. Our offense is new, a no-huddle scheme. On defense, we have a new (4-3) scheme, a new style of play. The fans won?t be disappointed. They?ll see something exciting.?

OSU?s sea of orange might see something exciting from the opponent. Lulay, from Aumsville, Ore., has thrown for 8,117 yards in his career. Lulay doubles as the punter, so a fake always is a possibility.

MSU might be the Cowboys? toughest non-conference game. The Bobcats are ranked No. 18 in I-AA.

The Sporting News ranked Florida Atlantic 119th, the worst team in I-A. The Cowboys play Florida Atlantic on Thursday in Miami. Sports Illustrated ranked Arkansas State, the Sept. 17 opponent at Boone Pickens Stadium, fourth from the bottom (115th).

?It really doesn?t matter who we play, where we play or if they?re I-AA or I-A,? Reid said. ?I?m so eager to get out and play and have some fun. My mind set is they?re trying to take something away from us.?

OSU has several intriguing story lines besides the high-profile quarterback competition between Reid and Donovan Woods:

Can a revamped defensive line deliver a consistent pass rush? Will one of three tailbacks emerge? Will OSU?s inexperienced secondary be a liability? Which receivers step up to complement D?Juan Woods? Can the special teams be special again?

?We have some young kids we need to evaluate, whether they can play under fire,? said assistant head coach Joe DeForest. ?This will be a good test. They?ll (Montana State) throw the ball a lot. Good or bad, we?ll find out some things on Saturday.?

MSU has played I-A schools. The Bobcats lost to Colorado State (39-14) last season and to Wyoming (21-10) in 2003. The Bobcats lost the two previous years to Washington State (45-28 and 53-28).

?It will be pretty exciting to experience Big 12 football,? Lulay said. ?They have some big boys you don?t see much in the Big Sky. We know we?ll have to play sound in every phase. Hopefully, we can make a ball game out of it. We see it as a challenge, but it would be a lie if I said I didn?t think we could go in there and win.?

With OSU working on a new offense, combined with the Bobcats? pass-happy, one-back offense, fans might witness 80 or pass attempts.

?They look a little like Texas Tech the way they throw the ball,? Thompson said. ?It?s going to be a long game. I always view every opponent the same, whether it?s Montana State or Texas Tech.?

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Is Hamilton next up for Tailback U.?

By John Helsley
The Oklahoman

STILLWATER - Mike Hamilton keeps hustling tickets for his Thursday homecoming in the Sunshine State.
Notes

It was there, in Melbourne, Fla., where Hamilton rolled up big numbers as a premier prep running back.

It?ll be just down the road, in Miami, that the redshirt freshman hopes to reproduce some of that former flash, this time for Oklahoma State, which is searching for someone to carry on its rich running back tradition.

Tailback U. is in transition at its trademark position.

The Cowboys, coming off Saturday?s season-opening win over Montana State, face Florida Atlantic Thursday night at Dolphins Stadium.

As many as 50 friends and family members are planning to make the trip from Melbourne to Miami. And Hamilton wants a strong showing, perhaps to witness a breakout performance.

?In high school, I?d always have a good game when my family came from Tampa and stuff and I played at home,? said Hamilton. ?I?d always have like 200 yards. ?Hopefully that can happen again.?

Cowboys coaches are hopeful, too.

OSU?s most prominent football success is closely tied to its tailback legacy.

Bob Fenimore. Terry Miller. Thurman Thomas. Barry Sanders. Most recently Tatum Bell and Vernand Morency.

Look up the school?s most successful seasons and those names, and other tailbacks, are associated.

The burning question now is who?s next?

Hamilton?s college debut was decent.

Against Montana State, he ran 13 times for 54 yards - a 4.2 average - with a long run of 16 yards.

Not dazzling, but decent.

?I did pretty good for a first game,? Hamilton said. ?It?s a big difference from high school. Everything is a lot faster.?

Cowboys coaches, who know such things can?t be rushed, would like to speed up Hamilton?s progress.

Mike Gundy uses Tatum Bell as an example. Bell teased fans with a 60-yard touchdown bolt against Oklahoma as a freshman, but until midway through his junior season, was not a dependable go-to guy.

?We came in here as a staff and everybody kept talking about how great he was,? said Gundy, who re-joined OSU with Les Miles in 2001, the year after Bell?s freshman year. ?I kept looking, thinking, ?He never makes a play.? Kept watching, kept watching, and people said, ?Well, he ran 60 yards against OU.?

?I said, ?That?s great, he never did anything else.? The next year, he was just an average guy.?

Eventually, the light went on for Bell, who became OSU?s No. 6 career rusher and a second-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos.

?Michael Hamilton has some of the same skills,? Gundy said. ?He looks just like Tatum to me, with the exception of the 4.3 (speed), and that?s a big thing. But the way he carries himself in practice, the way he runs.

?I think Michael has the ability to develop into that type of player.?

Develop is the key word.

How soon? How late?

?We would like to put it in fast forward, but that?s not going to happen,? Gundy said. ?The other night, Michael got in the secondary and he broke down his hips to make a move. He has the ability in the future, when he gets in the open, to make a sharp cut and take off, like Tatum.

?He?s not doing that right now. That comes with time. That comes with experience.?

Hamilton currently shares OSU?s marquee role with Julius Crosslin, a converted fullback best suited for power running inside. Speedy Calvin Roberts is also in the mix.

All three could just be caretakers of the position until touted recruit Michael Goodson reaches campus in January.

Hamilton, fully aware of OSU?s tailback past, wants to be the man for the future.

?I feel a great responsibility to keep that tradition going,? he said. ?You have to keep it going or they?ll look down on you and say, ?He wasn?t that good.?

?I want to be one of those guys they name with the other backs and add on to what?s been done here before.?


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From The Oklahoman:

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OSU Notebook

Learning curve: Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford was pleased with his unit?s hustle and throwing a shutout in the second half against Montana State. Bedford, though, said there?s much work to be done.
?It could have been a lot better,? Bedford said. ?We have so many young guys, they don?t understand the game, yet. That?s part of our job as coaches to get those guys to understand how people are trying to attack them. It?s alignment. You need to move around and disguise what you?re trying to do.?

Going home: Senior strong safety Jamie Thompson and running back Mike Hamilton played high school football in Florida. Senior linebacker Lawrence Pinson also has Florida ties. Pinson lived in Miami until he was 12, moved to Georgia for three years and Minnesota for two years before playing his senior year at Jenks.

?I?m trying to round up a lot of tickets,? Pinson said. ?I have about 20 but need at least 10 more for my grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins. I?m really excited about this game.?

Short week: Five days between games, including a travel day, is a quick turnaround. The Cowboys, though, have two advantages during the short week - Florida Atlantic runs an offense similar to Les Miles? pro style, and it was a holiday weekend, which allowed players to conduct more team meetings on Monday.

?That helped,? Pinson said. ?We got to watch more film and focus completely on football. We?ll definitely be prepared.?

Said quarterback Donovan Woods: ?It?s just something we have to deal with. I don?t look at it as a hassle. Going to Ponca City (during two-a-days) wasn?t a hassle. In some ways, that helped our team. This will be another test for us.?

Solid opener: Defensive tackle Ryan McBean didn?t record a tackle in the opener but coach Mike Gundy said McBean played well.

?Sometimes stats don?t tell the whole story,? Gundy said. ?All the guys up front played solid.?

McBean said: ?It doesn?t matter to me who makes the play. It?s all about teamwork. We?re not selfish. We work together. We had some slipups. We have improvement to make, but we?ll take care (of business).?

Mike Baldwin

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From The Oklahoman:

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FAU better hope Reid?s an insomniac

By Jenni Carlson
The Oklahoman

STILLWATER - Bobby Reid felt tired and beat last Saturday. And that was before the game.

The Oklahoma State quarterback managed only a couple hours of sleep before his college debut, and they were restless hours at that. He didn?t nod off until after midnight, then around 3 a.m. started waking up every 10 or 20 minutes.

?After we had breakfast and walk through, I was exhausted,? Reid said. ?I went back and took a nap.?

He looked more than rested by game time.

Reid arrived in Stillwater with a reputation - he?s a guy who plays his best when the lights come on. A gamer. That?s how he was as a high school hotshot at Galena Park North Shore in Houston, and that?s how he was in his first game as a Cowboy. He played quarterback and receiver. He ran and caught and passed.

All told, Reid had a hand in 115 of OSU?s 378 offensive yards.

?He had shown that at practice,? Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said of Reid?s playmaking, ?but that doesn?t always mean that he?s going to do that on game day. You?ve seen that before.?

Players who coaches and fans expect great things from fall flat on any given Saturday. Yep, that sounds familiar.

(Paul Thompson and Rhett Bomar, anyone?)

Reid loves game day so much that he waxes poetic about it.

?My thing is the band,? he said. ?The bass drums. I raise my game up to the bass drums.?

Maybe Gundy should consider having the OSU drum line at practice.

?Possibly,? Reid joked. ?It definitely gets my adrenaline going.?

He plays better under the game-day pressure. He loves the stage. He?ll play on the biggest one of his young career tonight when OSU plays Florida Atlantic on national television.

?I don?t really care if it?s nationally televised or locally televised,? Reid said. ?It?s still a game, and I still have to go out and perform the way I know how.?

Doing so is the mark of great players.

Now granted, Reid has played only one college game, and he wasn?t perfect. He dropped a pass. He misfired on another. He has flaws.

But when the Cowboys put the ball in Reid?s hands with almost five minutes left against Montana State, they needed him to get the job done. They clung to a itsy-bitsy five-point lead and faced the wretched possibility of losing to a Division I-AA opponent.

Reid directed an eight-play, 52-yard drive. It didn?t end in a score, but it did end the game. The Cowboys bled the last 4:44 off the clock with Reid picking up a second-and-long, then converting on a third-and-long.

Gundy isn?t quite ready to grant him gamer status.

?I?m hesitant to use that this early,? Gundy said of the term, ?but he did play very well, and when it was crunch time, he made plays.

But …

?One game, I would say yes.?

Who knows what might happen if he actually gets a good night?s sleep before games?


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From The Oklahoman

From The Oklahoman's OSU beat writer, John Helsley:

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Beat writer John Helsley breaks down today?s matchup and keys to the game:

1. Road test

OSU?s youth showed itself Saturday at home against Montana State. Now many key Cowboys will be experiencing road firsts: fancy hotel, exotic locale, professional stadium … Oh, and an important game. And did we mention the short work week, allowing just two meaningful practices? Florida Atlantic doesn?t draw big crowds, but the home team is sure to be fired up since it?s facing a Big 12 foe in its first prime-time national TV appearance.

2. QB watch

Donovan Woods took the major share of quarterback snaps in the opener, but Bobby Reid made a case - running and receiving - for more playing time. Due to the short turnaround, there was little room to alter the game plan. Still, expect more of Reid at some position and more of both QBs on the field together.

3. Secondary education

This was supposed to be a massive rebuilding year for Howard Schnellenberger at Florida Atlantic. And it still might be. But the Colonel has plugged in a capable quarterback in Danny Embick, a transfer from West Virginia. He passed for 299 yards and three touchdowns in a loss at Kansas on Saturday. OSU?s young secondary held up in its first test, but it will be under the gun again.

Prediction: OSU 27-14

Forget the preseason magazine predictions tagging Florida Atlantic as one of the worst teams in Division I-A. Schnellenberger finds players, which he?s done again at quarterback. And he?s gathered speed. But FAU is a team built on freshmen and sophomores. So, if the Cowboys can avoid early mistakes, gain some momentum and prove better on third down, they?re still more talented and deeper than the Owls.

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