The Oklahoma State Football Run Game will be based on a new philosophy in 2023
STILLWATER — At the end of the regular season last November, the Oklahoma State running back room was in good shape with a veteran leader backed by a group of up-and-coming youth.
Nothing has changed except the name of this veteran leader.
Dominic Richardson traded to Baylor and the Cowboys hit the portal to find former Michigan State back Elijah Collins.
As the start of spring training nears, OSU will start working to see how the group will blend. Here’s a look at the running back position:
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The Cowboys struggled to run the ball efficiently in their season opener against Central Michigan, and perhaps that was a more significant sign for the future than anyone realized at the time.
Richardson lost 131 yards against Arizona State the next week and the Cowboys were productive on the ground in the following two games. But the barrel length began to dry up at this point.
In the remaining nine games, OSU failed to reach 150 yards as a team in eight of them, only reaching the mark when freshman Ollie Gordon rushed for 136 yards in the late November loss to West Virginia.
In their last six games, OSU has only had two rushing touchdowns, both against West Virginia.
For the season, the Pokes averaged 3.4 yards per carry and 125.6 yards per game, including quarterbacks and others rushing the ball.
Running backs alone rushed 356 times for 1,476 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry.
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Who is outside?
Dominic Richardson, Zach Middleton, CJ Brown, Andre Washington
who is in
Elijah Collins, Sesi Vailahi*, Donte Buckner
*-Will be enrolled in June
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Running back talent is out of the question. Gordon has what it takes to be a star. Jaden Nixon is a major threat either in running or catching the ball. And Deondre Jackson emerged as a viable option in the second half of the season.
Zach Middleton, who would have been a redshirt junior, had to retire on medical grounds so space is limited in terms of time spent at OSU.
But Collins, a super senior, brings plenty of experience and should find himself in contention for the starting spot right away. He rushed for over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons at Michigan State, including a 988-yard year in 2019. Last year he rushed for 318 yards and six touchdowns and another 93 receiving yards in a rotating role.
But OSU’s running game issues seemed more related to blocking difficulties.
It was reported by PokesReport.com’s Robert Allen that the Cowboys are changing their run-game philosophy, moving from the zone-blocking schemes they’ve used for the past decade to a more traditional attack, like Mike Gundy’s offense in his early ones years as a head Coach had.
That’s more in line with what offensive line coach Charlie Dickey has coached in the past and could set a better foundation as the Cowboys try to revive lacking run production.
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Ollie Gordon, Sun., 6-1, 211
Elijah Collins, RSr.*, 6-0, 220
Jaden Nixon, RSo., 5-10, 185
Deondre Jackson, RJr., 5-11, 225
Ethan Washington, RFr., 6-0, 195
Donte Buckner, RJr., 5-11, 200