How OSU football overcame key injuries to survive trip to Kansas State: 'Go out and be a baller'
MANHATTAN, Kan. — LD Brown even smiles when he’s talking about things that make him want to not smile.
“I ain’t looking forward to this bus ride,” Brown said — his smile as big as the Cowboys’ victory — just before loading up on one of Oklahoma State’s seven team buses headed back to Stillwater after the 20-18 win over Kansas State on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Brown was one of a few Cowboys who came up with critical plays in the victory after practicing very little or not at all during the week because of injuries.
Fellow running back Chuba Hubbard and safety Tre Sterling were on that list, too. Receiver Dillon Stoner was healthy, but had little time to practice at his new position in place of Tylan Wallace, who suffered a mild muscle strain that prevented him from playing.
The injury list was even longer, with the likes of safety Kolby Harvell-Peel and left tackle Jake Springfield out because of injuries suffered last week against Texas that were too severe to play with.
Yet a handful of Cowboys played through their pain.
“We were pretty beat up,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “We had a number of guys not practice this week on offense, and it showed. Quite a few of ‘em just played without even practicing hardly at all, and that’s truly difficult.”
Now, they get an open week prior to a Bedlam game that stands to be a major matchup with the Cowboys sitting on top of the Big 12 standings.
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Gundy joked that he practiced at tailback some last week, because Hubbard and Brown couldn’t.
In the first half, the Cowboy run game was vapor. Hubbard and Brown had 11 yards apiece, and quarterback sacks had negated nearly all of that.
In the second half, Hubbard had an 11-yard run, but limped off the field. Brown entered and had a pair of explosive runs, then an 11-yard gain that led to him leaving the game as well.
But playing without practicing is harder than it sounds. There’s no live game-simulation repetitions, whether it’s of regular plays against the opponent’s defensive looks, or new plays added for the week.
“It is very difficult,” Brown said. “Not to practice all week, then go out there and just go out there and try to turn it on, it’s kind of different, man. The speed of the game is fast.
“We got adjusted, though. We started a little flat in the first half. But we turned it on in the second half. We made adjustments and it worked out for us in the end.”
At the very end, it was another hobbled player, safety Tre Sterling, who made the last clutch play with his interception of Kansas State quarterback Will Howard in the closing moments.
Sterling had been sidelined most of the week with an ankle injury suffered against Texas. He had re-injured the ankle earlier in the fourth quarter, but was back on the field for K-State’s final possession.
“It was pretty difficult, just in terms of knowing the schemes, knowing our game plan and stuff like that,” Sterling said of playing after not practicing. “But at the end of the day, it’s just, go out and be a baller, be a ballplayer. That’s all it is.”
On Saturday, the Cowboys faced adversity that outsized the Flint Hills, but came out as victors.
“I told the team I was proud of ‘em,” Gundy said. “We had our back against the wall, found a way to win on the road. That was a good win for our team. Looking forward to a week off, so we can get a little recovery with our guys.
“This win proves that our culture and our team chemistry is strong. Without really good culture and team chemistry, players that care about each other — my history is you don’t win these games.”