No. 16 Oklahoma State finally hits road to Kansas
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman hasn’t started a road game since high school, five years ago. He hasn’t had to face an intimidating atmosphere, a packed stadium filled with fans bent on making life miserable for him.
Well, he probably won’t face that this weekend, either.
Garman will be making his fourth consecutive start for the injured J.W. Walsh when the No. 16 Cowboys play their first true road game on Saturday at woe-be-gone Kansas.
Oklahoma State began the season with a neutral-site loss to top-ranked Florida State, but has since rattled off four consecutive victories — all at home. Garman has emerged as a star during that stretch, throwing for 1,200 yards and nine TDs since taking over at quarterback.
“I think he’ll be fine. I really do,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “Once he gets out there in our system, I don’t know that they know there’s any difference where they’re at.”
That could ring especially true at Memorial Stadium.
The Jayhawks fired coach Charlie Weis just over a week ago, and struggled mightily in a 33-14 loss at West Virginia in their first game under interim coach Clint Bowen. So while more Kansas fans than normal may turn out to see the new regime, it’s a good bet there that plenty of Oklahoma State fans will make the trek north to offset the home crowd.
While the Cowboys (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) appear content with their quarterback situation, the Jayhawks (2-3, 0-2) return home with theirs suddenly in a state of disarray.
Montell Cozart was appointed the starter after spring practice, but the sophomore has struggled all season. Michael Cummings spelled him last week against the Mountaineers and even third-string transfer T.J. Millweard got onto the field for a few snaps.
“We’ll make a decision on one of them this week and let that guy take it and go out and prove that he can move the offense down the field,” Bowen said. “I think our guys understand that we’re all working together here.”
The quarterbacks on Saturday will be a big story line when Oklahoma State visits Kansas. Here are a few more to keep an eye on:
TAKING KANSAS LIGHTLY: The Jayhawks haven’t done much to instill fear in anybody this season, and it would be easy for Oklahoma State to look past them. Ninth-ranked TCU awaits the Cowboys next week. But wide receiver Jhajuan Seales insisted that’s not the case. “They have their backs against the wall,” he said, “so they are going to give it everything they got to go out and get a win.”
MEMORIAL STADIUM: The last time Kansas played at home, fewer than 37,000 fans turned out on homecoming to watch a dismal 23-0 loss to Texas. That was also the last game the Jayhawks played with Weis on the sideline.
STARTING FAST: Oklahoma State only led Iowa State 13-6 at halftime last week, so getting off to a fast start at Kansas is a priority. “We need to work on that because the teams we play are coming out faster and better,” defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah said. “We still have a lot of stuff we need to work on. We aren’t where we need to be yet.”
FINISHING STRONG: Kansas actually outscored West Virginia 14-7 in the second half last weekend. If they Jayhawks can hang around with Oklahoma State for two quarters, they believe they can spring the upset. “We’re ready for this challenge,” Bowen said.
DEALING WITH MISDIRECTION: Kansas has struggled under new offensive coordinator John Reagan this season, but there have been signs of promise. The Jayhawks have started to spread the ball around to playmakers such as Tony Pierson and Corey Avery, and that has started to put pressure on defenses. “They do a lot of speed options and misdirection plays,” Cowboys linebacker Ryan Simmons said. “We just have to focus on what we can control.”