1. Raymond Taylor’s number of carries.
I’m listing this one first because I’m the most excited about this. If you’ve followed this team throughout the season, you’ve noticed the complete lack of a running game, after an offseason that supposedly promised an improved running game. But that’s been well documented by now — this team sucks at running the ball. Raymond Taylor, a junior fourth-string walk-on, has had a few bright moments during the season, and up until last Saturday against Texas Tech, they went basically unnoticed, or even ignored somewhat, for whatever reason.
Taylor’s first eyebrow-raising moment came against Kansas State earlier in October on a goal line run, where he displayed toughness that no other running back on the team had shown to that point:
“When he runs, he just runs hard-nosed,” receiver Brandon Sheperd said after that game. “It’s just gritty all the time. Never fails.”
Here’s an even better angle. Notice how Taylor throws off that pesky defender like he’s some giant stuffed animal.
His performance against the Wildcats started to generate some buzz from fans who were looking for anything to get the running game going. Watching Taylor run just felt different than watching the other backs, even if it was just a three yard run.
Taylor had a season-high nine carries in the K-State win, but totaled only six in the two games following. Against Texas Tech, he received five carries, and made the most on each, as he came away from the game with two touchdowns and 58 yards, including this run, which was by far the best run for a Cowboy tailback all season, and was just as clutch as his K-State touchdown:
That run set off a firestorm of people wondering loudly why in the world Taylor isn’t starting, or at least getting a big amount of carries at this point. Mike Gundy agrees, and stated earlier this week that Taylor’s role is certainly going to be expanded.
The Cowboys have made it to 8-0 with one of the worst running games in all of college football. Taylor’s emergence could not of come at a better time, especially as OSU enters the gauntlet against TCU, Baylor, and OU. He is really the only running back on the team this season to show that he can both absorb hits and find running lanes, even with his small sample size. Seriously, watch the above video again, especially on the second angle.
If Taylor can finally get the running game going to at least a serviceable level, it could go a long way in adding a dimension that the team has lacked all season, and an effective way to keep opposing high-powered offenses off the field longer, which can sometimes be the best defense in this league.
Simply put, Raymond Taylor could end up being the key for the Cowboys in November. The matchup with TCU will give us a glimpse into whether or not this will happen.
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