Here’s a stat for you:
Jeremy Smith has played 25 football games for Oklahoma State in his career. 14 times he has rushed for more than 35 yards, 11 times he has not. In games when Smith rushes for more than 35 yards, OSU is 14-0, in games when Smith does not rush for more than 35 yards, OSU is a more pedestrian 8-3.
The level to which Smith’s importance to this squad goes overlooked really astounds me.
I’d go as far as to say that the fate of the Big 12 could res on the broad shoulder of #31 this season.
That’s not to say the defense isn’t important. That’s not to say Wes Lunt isn’t important or that Joseph Randle is a throwaway. Obviously all of those pieces are vital to OSU’s success as a squad this season.
But Smith does something none of those guys can do: he opens up the field on offense, he’s a nightmare for other teams.
Todd Monken knows this,
What makes Jeremy what he is is ‘I run downhill, I break tackles, I’m a one cut guy,’ You are what you are. That is what you are, be damn good at that.
Just look what he did against Texas and OU last year: 17 carries for 259 yards and 4 TDs.
In fact, here are your career rushing TD leaders against OU and Texas in the last 10 years.
Smith – 6
Hunter – 3
Randle – 3
Savage – 3
Crosslin – 3
Morency – 3
Zac – 2
Donovan – 2
Bell – 2
Toston – 1
Pretty staggering considering he still has 240 minutes worth of football against those two squads1.
The biggest problem Smith causes for other teams is a unintentional byproduct of the system Dana Holgorsen implemented two years ago. The essence of the air raid attack, the one OSU still uses, is to spread the defense to all edges of the field and get the ball to your fastest or best guys and let them do the work.
You guys know this — you stretch the field, make it bigger, basically watch a Wisconsin-Illinois game and do the opposite of what they’re doing.
What’s scary about OSU isn’t that they’ve been really good at that the last two seasons (though they have) but rather that one of their most valuable assets (Smith) keeps secondaries honest.
He keeps them from shading towards Stewart or shifting towards Austin Hays. He makes linebackers think twice about picking up Randle on a little swing route because if said linebackers are wrong…well that’s 20 easy yards up the middle for Smith.
He goes overlooked because he doesn’t fit the mold of what traditional air raid teams do. He’d be a star in the Big 10, lauded in the SEC for his power, and worshipped in the Big East (they don’t really do the whole offense thing).
In the Big 12 though? He’s just the most important piece to one of the most curious title contenders in the last five years.
- I can’t say this definitively because the box scores don’t go back far enough but I think it’s a safe assumption to say Smith is the all-time leader at OSU for rushing TDs against OU and Texas. Barry, Thurman, and Terry Miller didn’t play Texas and I don’t think any of them put up more than six against OU. They’re the only three guys with more career rushing TDs than Kendall Hunter ↩