4 Oklahoma State - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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4 Oklahoma State

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

They've gotten more multiple on defense over the years; the quarterbacks and the offenses in the Big 12 are too good for anyone to do only one thing. They used to be a strictly four-man front, two safeties. Now they're moving to a three-man front. Most teams have a weakness somewhere on the defensive line. They really don't. They do some stunting, and they add some blitzes that give you trouble at times, but nothing too complicated. The key is, they play hard. It's a tough conference, and there are so many great offenses, but they're one of the tougher defenses to play against and prepare for. The safety, Za'Carrius Green, looks like a guy who can give teams trouble. And [corner turned safety] Ramon Richards is probably one of their better players.

With [6'5", 235-pound senior] quarterback Mason Rudolph, they're obviously explosive, with really good receivers. Last year Rudolph threw for more than 4,000 yards [4,091], with 28 TDs and only four picks. They started running the ball better toward the end of the year. They weren't great on the ground the past couple of seasons, but they've gotten better and that's going to make them more dangerous. The receiver, [6'1", 205-pound senior] JAMES WASHINGTON—he's tough to handle. He stands out.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % (41ST)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT (11TH)

COMPLETION % (18TH)

YARDS PER CARRY (60TH)

SACKS ALLOWED (97TH)

TURNOVERS LOST (12TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE (17TH)

YARDS PER PLAY (12TH)

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % ALLOWED (61ST)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT ALLOWED (89TH)

COMPLETION % ALLOWED (92ND)

YARDS PER CARRY ALLOWED (76TH)

SACKS (33RD)

TURNOVERS GAINED (24TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE ALLOWED (54TH)

YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED (84TH)

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RATING

50

A good-but-not-great Pitt (9/16) is the Cowboys' most challenging non--Big 12 matchup. That's not to say Oklahoma State needs to be perfect; a loss to a ranked conference foe might not doom the Pokes, should they go on to win the title showdown.

THE PLAYER TO KNOW

As a freshman last season, running back JUSTICE HILL got off to a slow start before exploding for 122 yards against Baylor in Week 4. From there he rolled, posting six 100-yard rushing performances in Oklahoma State's final 10 games. A season ago teams hardly expected a dynamic rushing attack from the Cowboys, which allowed Hill to sneak up on opponents and give the offense some balance. Now, the 5'10", 170-pound back needs to be more consistent, and he has to do it while teams are scheming to stop him. One promising development: As the year went on Hill broke for longer rushes more frequently, with gains of 30-plus yards in each of his last four games.