Cowboys Host Tulsa In Home Opener

Oklahoma State Cowboys
host the
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004 • 6 p.m. [CDT]
Boone Pickens Stadium [48,500] • Stillwater, Okla.

Cowboys Host Tulsa
Oklahoma State opens the home portion of its 2004 football schedule Saturday evening when the Cowboys play host to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. It will be the first game in the newly renovated Boone Pickens Stadium, and is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m.

Boone Pickens Stadium
Thanks to the generosity of Boone Pickens and many others who made private donations, Oklahoma State will host Tulsa Saturday night in a Boone Pickens Stadium that features most of the south side construction completed. Fans who sit on the south side will have all-new concession and restroom facilities, as well as new ramps into and out of the stadium, new elevators and escalators, a new mezanine level and dazzling new exterior brick work. The south stadium construction is just the first of three phases that will eventually completely renovate the facility. Work will begin after the 2004 season on the north side, and after the 2006 season on the west endzone.

Let’s Walk
Oklahoma State is encouraging all fans to participate in the walk. The walk is one of OSU’s more popular football traditions and occurs 2-1/2 hours prior to kickoff when the Cowboys walk from the Atherton Hotel in the Student Union to Boone Pickens Stadium. This week, the walk will be even more eventful with activities planned around the opening of the new south stadium structure. There will be a special ceremony at the corner of Athletic and Hester Streets, and Mr. Pickens will walk with the Cowboys into the stadium.

OSU-Tulsa, Briefly
Oklahoma State and Tulsa will be facing each other for the 70th time in a series that began in 1914. This will be Tulsa’s first appearance in Stillwater since 1999, when the Cowboys captured a 46-9 win. The teams last met in 2000 at Tulsa’s Skelly Stadium, with OSU winning by a 36-26 margin. Saturday will mark the first meeting between OSU Head Coach Les Miles and Tulsa’s Steve Kragthorpe.

Oklahoma State enters the second week of the 2004 season with a 1-0 record. The Cowboys successfully opened the season last Saturday with a 31-20 win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Tulsa is 0-1 on the season after a 21-3 loss last week to Kansas in Lawrence.

Despite an impressive victory over UCLA in its season opener, Oklahoma State failed to climb into the Associated Press poll. The USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ poll had not been posted online as of 10 a.m. Monday. If the polls were extended, the Cowboys would rank 32nd in the AP poll. The Cowboys last appeared in the top 25 prior to the Cotton Bowl last January. OSU was ranked during eight of the 12 regular-season weeks in 2003. The Cowboys received votes in both preseason polls, as well as the first week of the Coaches’ Poll.

Cowboys-Golden Hurricane, On the Air
Oklahoma State’s Saturday home opener against Tulsa will be broadcast live on the Cowboy Radio Network with Dave Hunziker, Tom Dirato and Robert Allen describing the action. The network broadcast begins one hour before kickoff. The game will also be televised on a pay-per-view basis by Fox Sports Net. KOTV Sports Director John Holcomb, former OSU lineman Paul Blair, and former Golden Hurricane Brian Thompson will describe the action on the telecast. Those interested in purchasing the pay-per-view broadcast should contact their local cable company.

Cowboys Successful in Home Openers
Over the years, Oklahoma State has enjoyed a great deal of success in home openers. In fact, the Cowboys have won eight straight home openers dating back to a loss to top-ranked Nebraska in the 1995 opener in Stillwater. Since 1969, Oklahoma State is 29-6 in home openers, and the Cowboys are 69-28-5 all-time in home openers. While OSU and Tulsa have played 69 times prior to this week, the Cowboys and Hurricane have met six previous times when the game has been OSU’s home opener, and the Pokes are 6-0 in those games.

More Home Opener Notes
Oklahoma State has scored 40 or more points in its last two home openers. The Cowboys posted a 48-24 win over Wyoming last year after a 45-10 win over Northern Iowa in 2002. The last time the Cowboys posted a shutout in a home opener was 2000, when O-State enjoyed a 23-0 win over Southwest Texas. In OSU’s current streak of eight straight home opening wins, the Pokes have two shutouts: the previously mentioned 23-0 win in 2000 and a 35-0 victory over Fresno State in 1997. OSU’s longest streak of consecutive wins in home openers is 10 from 1926-35.

Orange Peel
Oklahoma State’s home opener also means it’s time for Orange Peel. This year’s Orange Peel features the musical group Incubus, as well as Saturday Night Live’s Jim Breuer. Former OSU basketball player and current ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb will host the OSU spirit session, which kicks off the event. Orange Peel begins at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Sept. 10, with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Student Union Ticket Center.

OSU Last Week
Oklahoma State opened its 2004 season with an impressive 31-20 win over UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Cowboys rode the rushing of tailback Vernand Morency, who carried 29 times for 261 yards and two touchdowns. As a team, Oklahoma State amassed 426 yards on the ground and had four rushing touchdowns. OSU scored by taking its first possession 63 yards in six plays with Morency covering the final 22 yards in a touchdown run with 10:32 remaining in the first quarter. After UCLA took a 14-7 lead with 1:35 left in the initial period, OSU scored 21 points and led 28-17 at the half. The teams traded field goals in the third quarter and neither team put points on the scoreboard in the final period. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys were led by Darrent Williams, Paul Duren and Lawrence Pinson, who each had seven tackles. Jamie Thompson, who made his first start in the Oklahoma State secondary, had five tackles, forced a fumble and had an interception.

More OSU-UCLA Note-able

• Oklahoma State’s 31-20 win in the Rose Bowl over UCLA snapped a three-game losing streak in season openers, all on the road.

• Five Cowboys made their first collegiate starts in the win over UCLA. Jerry Don Bray (DE), Marque Fountain (DE), Luke Frazier (WR), David Koenig (OL) and Donovan Woods (QB) all logged starts. In addition, six true freshmen saw action for the Cowboys last week. Martel Van Zant, Stephen James, Jason Ricks, Walter Thomas, Maurice Cummings and Prentiss Elliott played key roles in the win.

• Quarterback Donovan Woods scored his first career touchdown on a 15-yard run with 3:36 left in the first half. He had his first career completion on the final play of the first quarter, an 18 yarder to fullback Shawn Willis.

• The win over UCLA evened OSU’s all time record vs. the Bruins to 1-1 and avenged UCLA’s 2002 win over the Cowboys in Stillwater.

• Tailback Greg Jones scored his first career touchdown on a 13 yard run at the 7:36 mark of the second quarter. Jones was OSU’s second leading rusher with 12 carries for 65 yards. Another tailback, Seymore Shaw, added 64 yards on 11 carries, including a long rush of 15 yards.

• Oklahoma State controlled the football in its win at UCLA. The Cowboys had 36:05 in time of possession compared to 23:55 for the homestanding Bruins. The Cowboys also had 26 first downs, 24 of which came on the ground.

How Big Was It?
Time will be the ultimate judge as to how big Oklahoma State’s season-opening win over UCLA truly was, but on the surface it appears to be one of the most significant opening-day victories in a number of years. In terms of season opening wins that set a tone for the year, you have to go back to 1997, when the Cowboys opened with a win at Iowa State en route to an 8-4 record and Alamo Bowl appearance against Purdue. Prior to that, it was 1985 when the Cowboys traveled to Seattle and left town with a 31-17 win over Washington of the Pac 10. The year before, OSU opened the Pat Jones era of Cowboy football with a 45-3 thumping of Arizona State at Tempe. The 1984 win at Tempe set up a 10 win regular season for the Cowboys while the ‘85 team went on an 8-4 mark and second-straight Gator Bowl appearance.

What a Rush
Oklahoma State started the season with an impressive ground performance in its 31-20 win over UCLA last week in the Rose Bowl. As a team, the Cowboys rushed for 426 yards, the most since the 1998 Cowboys rushed for 440 in a win over Louisiana-Lafayette. OSU’s 426 yards last week ranks as the 10th best single-game rushing total in school history.

More Rushing Numbers
It’s just one game into the season, but Oklahoma State is third in the country in rushing offense this week. OSU’s 426 yards per game trails only Texas (513 yards rushing) and West Virginia (478). Four Big 12 Conference teams are ranked among the nation’s top 10 in the rushing after the first week of the season.

Morency Makes a Statement
Junior tailback Vernand Morency started the 2004 season much like he ended the 2003 regular season, with another 200 yard rushing performance. In front of a Rose Bowl crowd and regional television audience that reached every state west of the Mississippi River, Morency ran hard and effectively en route to 261 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. It was his third-consecutive 200 yard performance in a regular-season game, and he’s served early season notice that he could be one of the best in the country. Against UCLA, Morency averaged nine yards per carry, had a long run of 39 yards and had two TD runs from 22 yards and one yard out. At a school known nationally for productive tailbacks, Morency’s performance against UCLA was among the best. He becomes one of just six OSU backs to rush for 260 or more yards in a single game. Barry Sanders, OSU’s Heisman winner in 1988, had five games with 260 plus yards. David Thompson, Thurman Thomas, Ernest Anderson and Gerald Hudson also eclipsed the 260 yard mark during their OSU careers. The 261 yard performance by Morency was the 11th best single-game effort in OSU football history.

Jones, Shaw Also Impressive
Vernand Morency wasn’t the only OSU tailback who looked good in OSU’s season-opening win. Greg Jones was the Cowboys’ second-leading rusher with 12 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry and had a long run of 15 yards. Seymore Shaw, who had to overcome injuries in the preseason, carried the ball 11 times against UCLA for 64 yards, an average of 5.8 yards per carry, and also had a long run of 15 yards.

It’s What’s Up Front That Counts
Many thought that Oklahoma State’s offensive line would be a productive unit, and the Cowboys’ rushing peformance against UCLA just further proves that point. Four starters return from last year, including center Chris Akin, who started all 13 games of the 2003 season, and right guard Sam Mayes who logged 12 consecutive starts a year ago. Right tackle Kellen Davis and left tackle Corey Hilliard also return, and redshirt freshman David Koenig got the start at left guard vs. the Bruins. The combination of Akin, Mayes, Davis and Hilliard have a combined 63 starts. Mayes was a preseason All-Big 12 selection and preseason All-America selection by several publications. Oklahoma State’s 2004 offensive line averages 6-4 and 298 pounds.

Donovan Solid in First Start
Oklahoma State’s Donovan Woods gained his first-career start under center in the Cowboys’ 31-20 win at UCLA last week. The redshirt freshman was impressive in his debut. The numbers only reveal 19 rushing yards and 23 passing yards, but Woods ran an OSU offense that held the ball for more than 36 minutes and did not have a turnover. Woods scored his first career touchdown, a 15 yard delayed keeper, in the second quarter.

Freshmen QB’s Nothing New
Donovan Woods will be the sixth true or redshirt freshman to start for Oklahoma State at quarterback since 1986. His current coach, Mike Gundy, gained his first collegiate start in the fourth game of his true freshman season (1986). Since then, Gary Porter (1992), Toné Jones (1993), Tony Lindsay (1997) and Aso Pogi (2000) all earned starts as either true or redshirt freshmen.

Got You Covered
One of the strengths of the 2004 OSU defense is expected to the secondary, where talent and experience return at every position. Every player who started in the Cotton Bowl against Mississippi returns in 2004, including preseason All-America and Thorpe candidate Darrent Williams at left corner. Junior Vernon Grant returns to his strong safety spot. Jon Holland is the returning starter at free safety and Robert Jones at right corner. Jamie Thompson, who started one game a year ago, and Jamar Ransom, who started five games a year ago, return at the other safety spot.

Darrent Williams Gets Preseason Attention
Left corner Darrent Williams was a first-team All-Big 12 selection a year ago and has already been recognized as one of the top players in the country heading into the 2004 season. Williams is a preseason all-conference pick as well as a preseason All-American on most lists and on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive back. Last year, Williams had 66 total tackles, and led the team with six interceptions for 130 yards in returns and an amazing 17 pass breakups. He was third in the country in pass deflections and second in the Big 12 in interceptions. For his Oklahoma State career, Williams has 152 total tackles, 11 interceptions and 45 pass deflections. Five times in his OSU career he has returned interceptions for touchdowns, an NCAA and Big 12 record. The first three interceptions of his collegiate career were all returned for touchdowns, including two in one game against Baylor in 2001.

Linebackers Take Charge, Again
Oklahoma State’s 2004 corps of linebackers may just be among the best in school history and one of the top units in the country. Led by 2003’s leading tackler Paul Duren, four of the Cowboys’ returning linebackers were among the team’s top 12 tacklers a year ago. Duren topped the tackle chart with 97 total stops. Sophomore Victor DeGrate had 76 tackles a year ago, junior Pagitte McGee added 46 and Lawrence Pinson, who missed all but five games last year, had 35 tackles. They further proved that in Saturday’s win at UCLA. Duren and Lawrence Pinson were each unofficially credited with seven tackles. Five of Duren’s stops were unassisted, while Pinson had four solo tackles.

Pinson Back Where He Belongs
After missing most of the 2003 season with a serious leg injury, linebacker Lawrence Pinson was back on the field as the Cowboys toppled UCLA Saturday afternoon in the Rose Bowl. When Pinson first arrived on campus prior to the 2002 season, OSU coaches knew he had a chance to be special. It didn’t take long for him to prove it. As a true freshman two years ago, Pinson played in all 13 games, started one of those and finished with 40 tackles. Going into the 2003 season, he was one of the starters at linebacker and started the first five games before suffering a season-ending leg injury against Louisiana-Lafayette. When his season ended, he had already registered 35 tackles, including three behind the line of scrimmage.

No Turnovers
Oklahoma State did not turn the ball over against UCLA in its season-opening win, and the Cowboys enter week 2 of the season tied for second in the nation in turnover margin. Michigan leads the country with a +6.00 margin, with the Cowboys, Arizona State and Wyoming tied for second with a +4.00 turnover margin.

Big 12 Statistical Notes
Tailback Vernand Morency leads the Big 12 Conference in both rushing and all-purpose running after week No. 1 of the season. Defensive backs Vernon Grant and Jamie Thompson are among the 12 Big 12 players tied for the league lead with one interception after the first week. Robert Jones is fourth in the league in kickoff returns with his average of 27 yards on two returns.

Farden Comes Up Big Again
Already being advertised as one of the best in the country, Oklahoma State’s Cole Farden came up big again in the Cowboys successful opener at UCLA. Farden averaged 41.6 yards on five punts, and five of his six kickoffs went for touchbacks against the Bruins. He should be considered a candidate for the Ray Guy Award and other postseason honors after being named second-team All-Big 12 last year. Over the past two seasons, 103 of his 153 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks. As OSU’s punter, he averaged 43.2 yards per punt a year ago, the ninth-best single-season average in OSU history. Two years ago, he averaged 41.4 yards on 57 punts, and his career average of 42.2 going into his senior season is just two yards per punt behind Greg Ivy’s all-time OSU career punting mark. Farden is the leading returning punter in the Big 12 Conference in 2004.

Ricks Makes Collegiate Debut
True freshman Jason Ricks handled Oklahoma State’s extra point and field goal opportunities against UCLA and was extremely solid. Ricks was perfect on his four extra point tries and was also perfect on a 35 yard field goal attempt in the third quarter.

Next Week
Oklahoma State remains at home next week as the Cowboys host SMU. Kickoff at Boone Pickens Stadium is set for 6:05 p.m. The Pokes then have an open date from game competition before hosting Iowa State on Oct. 2 and making their first conference road trip of the season as they travel to Colorado on Oct. 9.



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