OSU football: How unexpected star Dezmon Jackson helped the Cowboys survive against Texas Tech
STILLWATER — Dezmon Jackson sprinted past the first-down marker and decided that was enough.
Oklahoma State’s junior running back had a walk-in touchdown awaiting him, but he chose against it, sliding to the turf a few yards short of the goal line, and signaling the virtual end of the No. 23 Cowboys’ 50-44 win over Texas Tech on a wild Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
The 5-foot-11, 218-pound Jackson, making his first start as a Cowboy, rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries, becoming the unexpected — and to many Cowboy fans, unknown — star of Saturday’s shootout.
“I saw a guy that was focused and looking for his opportunity, and he got it today,” offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn said. “He didn’t dance around or a bunch of crap. He just got the rock and went downhill. He hit the hole where we wanted him to hit the hole, and our offensive line took a lot of pride in blocking for him today.
“I’m excited for that kid, because he’s been waiting for his chance, and he got it, and he nailed it.”
OSU star back Chuba Hubbard was sidelined by the right ankle injury that has hampered him more than a month. Backup LD Brown was out with an injury as well, even though he suited up.
And who were the first two teammates to greet Jackson after his third touchdown of the first half? Brown and Hubbard — walking boot and all.
“Monday, my coach came to me and told me I was gonna be starting,” Jackson said. “I was just in a mode, I was in a zone all week. My roommates told me that I had been acting different, because they saw how focused I was all week.
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“Last night, I couldn’t even sleep, because I was just so ready to play.”
It showed in the ferocity with which Jackson ran, powering through running lanes even when they were small. One fourth-quarter fumble aside, he seemingly didn’t take a wrong step all day.
“We felt good about Dez and his practices over the last few months, but you never really know,” Gundy said. “He’s played some in kind of a relief mode, and not as much as the main character.
“He had a lot of endurance, and I’m proud of the way he competed, because there were times he was getting tired, but he stayed in there and did a nice job.”
“Once he kind of settled in, it looked like he saw some of the cuts really well.”
An offensive line shaken by injuries, and without senior leader Teven Jenkins because of a back injury, held up well for Jackson.
A native of El Dorado, Arkansas, Jackson came to OSU from Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. He redshirted last season and had been used sparingly this year. Prior to Saturday, Jackson had 18 carries for 135 yards in his OSU career.
His stats certainly took a boost, and next time, if he finds himself in the same situation at the end of a game, he can go ahead and score the touchdown instead of sliding.
“I do not think that is what he was told to do,” Gundy said. “I would have recommended scoring there.
“But I was certainly glad I saw him pop through the line on fourth-and-1.”