Cowboys do not seem doomed without Dez
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Thursday, October 29, 2009
10/29/09 at 5:55 AM
Related story: Bryant recalls 'difficult' interviews.
Oklahoma State and its fans wanted clarity, and on Tuesday they got it — right between the eyes.
When the NCAA announced that Dez Bryant's suspension would be extended through the rest of the 2009 season, OSU and Bryant were dealt their worst-case scenario.
While it is expected but not certain that Bryant will enter the 2010 NFL draft, it is absolutely certain that the Cowboys will host Texas on Saturday, travel to Iowa State next week, host Texas Tech on Nov. 14 and Colorado on Nov. 19, play at Oklahoma on Nov. 28 and then prepare for their seventh bowl appearance in eight years.
The season continues.
Life goes on.
Fans may be jarred by the NCAA's decision, but there is no shock within the OSU program. If Bryant had been playing all season, producing at his typical level, a suspension during Texas week would have rocked the Cowboys. But because they had a month-long adjustment period before the NCAA's verdict was announced, OSU's coaches and players probably didn't blink when the bad news arrived.
During recent media sessions, you could sense that OSU players were growing tired of being asked about Bryant. With so many questions came the suggestion that OSU was doomed without Dez. You think the Cowboys' competitive juices weren't stirred? Athletes have egos.
While Bryant was sentenced to inactivity, the other Cowboys labored on the practice field and in the weight room. If anything, the Cowboys seem more driven than deflated by the Bryant suspension.
The Bryant debacle wasn't a death sentence for the offense. Check the stats:
In three games with Bryant this season, OSU had an overall total of 26 wide-receiver catches and averaged 201 passing yards. Zac Robinson completed 59 percent of his passes.
In four games without Bryant, OSU had 50 wide-receiver catches and averaged 255 passing yards. Robinson completed 70 percent of his passes.
Bryant is a first-round draft pick who can score on every touch of the football, but during his exile to oblivion, the OSU passing attack become more balanced and difficult to defend. Hubert Anyiam has become the go-to guy. Dameron Fooks and Tracy Moore have emerged as dependable targets. Tight ends Wilson Youman and Cooper Bassett each had a touchdown at Baylor.
Anyiam followed his 10-catch performance against Missouri with a nine-catch afternoon against Baylor. He has arrived, apparently, so it is important that fans and sportscasters learn the correct pronunciation of his name. It's an-yum. Not an-ee-um. Two syllables, not three.
"This has exceeded more than I expected," said Anyiam, a sophomore from Garland, Texas. "Now, I know the ball is coming to me. The expectations are big."
With two touchdown catches, Bryant was the MVP of Oklahoma State's victory over Georgia. He garnered national attention for OSU by appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But the Cowboys' current five-game win streak is the property of guys like Keith Toston, Robinson, Mike Gundy, the offensive linemen, Anyiam, Fooks, Joe Wickline, Bill Young, Donald Booker, Andre Sexton, Lucien Antoine, Swanson Miller and Dan Bailey.
Statistically, OSU defines an explosive play as any play from scrimmage that covers at least 20 yards.
Through seven games last season, with Bryant viewed as perhaps the most dynamic receiver in college football, the Cowboys had 36 explosive plays.
Through this year's first seven games, four of which were played without Bryant, Oklahoma State has 36 explosive plays.
Without Bryant, OSU is 4-0.
Without Bryant, the Cowboys seem to believe that they can beat Texas.
Life goes on.
Bill Haisten 581-8397
With Dez Bryant suspended, OSU receiver Hubert Anyiam has emerged as the Cowboys' go-to receiver. Anyiam has 25 receptions for 306 yards and two touchdowns this season. Stephen Holman/Tulsa World