OSU football: What made Dezmon Jackson's big day vs. Texas Tech possible?
STILLWATER — In between the gaudy numbers of Dezmon Jackson’s incredible performance last Saturday was a zero.
And it might have been the Oklahoma State running back’s most impressive number.
On the stat sheet, that zero sat to the right of his 36 carries, and to the left of his 235 yards gained, well down the line from his three touchdowns.
Zero yards lost.
Even if you don’t think it’s as impressive as his other stats, you have to agree it’s as important as the others. He carried the ball 36 times and not once was he tackled for lost yardage.
“He ran downhill,” OSU offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn said. “That’s the one thing I wanted to make sure he did. Take what’s given to you. We talked a lot about how if we can line up in second-and-5, that’s a lot better than second-and-9 or second-and-8, looking for a home run.
“There’s that risk-reward in there that tailbacks always are looking for. In this situation, we just wanted to go downhill, move the chains, and then you can put your signature on it.”
This week, the Cowboys visit TCU for an 11 a.m. kickoff on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Coach Mike Gundy said he hoped to get his top two running backs, Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown, back on the field from injuries for Tuesday’s practice, but as of Monday when Gundy spoke to the media, he was going into the week with Jackson as his starter.
And it’s a title the 5-foot-11, 218-pound Jackson earned with his hard, straight-forward running style, relying on his power to do what his coach asked him to do.
“I told him he could hit the ‘B’ button 15 times after you get four yards,” Dunn said, referencing the button for a spin move on a video game controller. “But until you get four, you’re gonna smack it downhill, and he did.
“Our offensive line blocked, and that made calling the run plays a heck of a lot easier.”
Jackson heaped praise on his blockers, who have battled injuries and attrition since the summer.
“The whole game, I was seeing holes everywhere,” Jackson said. “They made it so easy for me.”
Jackson had set the bar high for himself in his first start as a Cowboy.
“During the week, the guys was asking me what I was gonna do, and I told ‘em, I had a plan for myself for three touchdowns and a minimum 180 yards,” Jackson said. “And I surpassed that.
“I was just trying to score. Texas Tech kept scoring back and forth. It was a dog fight. I just knew that I’d have to win it and help us out.”
TCU’s defense will pose a tougher task. Texas Tech is one of the worst teams in the Big 12 against the run, while TCU ranks fifth, giving up 134.4 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry.
Yet Jackson has shown he’s up for a challenge.
“The guy’s hungry, and usually, hungry players play better,” Dunn said. “I think it’s really big for his confidence moving forward. It’s big for mine, knowing we’re deep at tailback.”
Scott Wright covers OSU athletics, especially football. You can send your story ideas to him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @ScottWrightOK. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.