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September 8, 2012
Cowboys head west for first road test
It's early in the semester, but the season's first exam day has already arrived for Oklahoma State.
The zoo of Arizona Stadium awaits the Pokes tonight, as the Cowboys (1-0) do battle with the Wildcats.
The teams both possess potent offenses, but the real battle will be at the quarterback position, featuring OSU's Wes Lunt, and Arizona's Matt Scott.
"We definitely have our work cut out for us," OSU coach Mike Gundy said. "Their offense put up around 624 yards last Saturday night, and their quarterback threw for 360 and rushed for about 85."
Scott actually completed 30 of his 46 passes for 387 yards and two touchdowns, while adding another 74 yards on the ground. His dual-threat ability presents the most significant matchup issue for the Oklahoma State defense.
The astounding stat-line against a lesser opponent in Toledo is impressive, but it should surprise no one that Scott did it in Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez' spread option system.
"We know they have a new coaching staff," OSU corner back Brodrick Brown said. "So a new offense, new defense and stuff like that. They have good tempo, they move the ball fast and they run some good plays. They do a lot of things that are successful for them, so we just have to keep watching film on them and maintain our edge."
Rodriguez was head coach at West Virginia, his alma mater, before ditching the Mountaineers for the same position at Michigan. Lack of success led to the severance of the relationship with the Wolverines in 2010, and the coach hasn't been on a sideline since until last Saturday.
"I know Rich pretty good," Gundy said. "At the functions we're at, even over the last six or seven years, he and I have always gotten along. You only see them twice a year, but I've never asked him about any of that stuff with West Virginia."
Rodriguez' offense is complex, and though it's explosive, it also may be the cause for a few mistakes by Wildcat players as they're likely still trying to settle in.
On the opposite side is Lunt, a freshman who had a solid, yet short first game, completing all eleven of his passing attempts before being pulled out due to a blowout.
This is obviously the quarterback's first true test, and it won't be easy. Not only does he have to go into a hostile stadium full of fans with a renewed hope in their football team, but also has to cross two time zones to get there.
"Our true measurement will be later in the game," Gundy said. "How he's going to hold up when he's at play fifty-five instead of play fifteen? It'll give us a good measurement of where we're at and where he's at."
Saturday night should have its fair share of surprising performances, big plays, and mental mistakes.
If you can't watch it, be sure to follow our live-blog on The Corral message board starting a few hours before pregame.
As for the game, author Horace Greeley said it best, seemingly speaking directly to Lunt in his famous quote.
"Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country."