Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard started the season by matching his career-high with 26 carries and rushing for a career-high 221 yards at Oregon State.
The Cowboys rushed 52 times for 352 yards and passed the ball 24 times for 203 yards. Hubbard was on track to finish with well over 300 rushing attempts on the season after Week 1.
OSU coach Mike Gundy said the Monday after the game that Hubbard’s carries looked pretty good to him, but 26 touches is a lot for his running back.
“I don’t know if that’s real smart, but we have to ride it right now depending on how we flow as an offense,” he said at the time.
Gundy explained how the safeties on the opposing defense dictate the play calling of run or pass plays. If the defense plays over the top of receiver Tylan Wallace, then his running backs are going to get a lot of carries, Gundy said. That’s what happened against Oregon State. Quarterback Spencer Sanders also rushed for over 100 yards.
Saturday’s home opener against McNeese State played out differently. OSU threw the ball 32 times and ran the ball 44 times in a 56-14 win. Eight of the 44 rushes came in the final drive when OSU just trying to run out the clock.
Sanders was the team’s leading rusher with 12 carries for 51 yards. Although Gundy said Hubbard’s 26 carries in Week 1 was a high number, he said he could possibly get 25 touches in Week 2. Hubbard’s number was called just eight times for 44 yards. Gundy explained in the press conference why OSU aired it out more in Week 2.
“Offense can’t determine running pass,” Gundy said. “Defense determines running pass. Offense only determines tempo, so based on how they were playing there were more opportunities to throw the ball than there were rushing opportunities based on the way the safeties played.”
Saturday was OSU’s first time playing FCS opponent McNeese but nobody should have anticipated the game to be close. Oklahoma State routed McNeese 56-14 just like expected.
It was better for OSU to not put unnecessary mileage on Hubbard in a game where OSU didn’t need him to be spectacular to win. His 5.5 yards per carry average shows that Hubbard could have delivered more if needed, but the eight carries gave his legs a break after the heavy workload in Week 1.
Oklahoma State won’t always have the luxury of using Hubbard that sparingly and still leaving with 42-point win. It was beneficial for him to take it easy in a low-stress game. OSU is going to need him to be at the top of his game when it takes on No. 12 Texas in Austin on Sept. 21.
Another positive of Hubbard’s limited carries is that Gundy got a chance to let some other players touch the ball. Eight different players carried the ball for OSU with redshirt freshman Jahmyl Jeter leading all running backs with 11 carries. He racked up 34 yards on a 3.1 yards per carry average.
Walk-on Micah Cooper scored his first touchdown on a 1-yard rush.
“That was pretty cool,” quarterback Dru Brown said. “That kid works his (rear) off. It’s really cool to see guys like that get in the end zone.”
Hubbard, who scored on a 4-yard touchdown run, will probably make a second home in the end zone by the end of the season. His four rushing touchdowns are tied for the third-most in FBS and his 265 yards on the season are currently ranked ninth.