August 3, 2013

Can Jeremy Smith carry the load for Oklahoma State?

A beaming Jeremy Smith sat on the side of the OSU practice gym surrounded by reporters, answering questions in his to-the-point, usual way.

It was just the same as last year, and the year before for that matter. The questions were mostly the same, from "How are your arms so big?" to "What are your expectations for this season?"

There was one question that was different from prior years, however. In the past, it's been "How are you and Joseph Randle going to share carries at the running back spot?"

This year, it was "Can you handle being RB-1?"

"It's all about conditioning," he said. "I don't have to keep cooling my body off then going back in and warming it up again, I'll always be warm. I don't have to worry about the extra stuff."

Coach Mike Gundy said at the Big 12 Media Day in Dallas that he expects Smith to carry the rock 20-25 times a game, which is right around what Randle had last year (21.1 carriers per game) with Smith missing substantial time due to an ankle injury.

"Jeremy's fairly quiet and goes about his business," Gundy said. "I think the advantage we have is that they've been in so many big games that everything is just another game. He seems to be doing very well."

It's certainly a major storyline for the team this year, along with the quarterback situation that wasn't addressed at all at the media day.

If Smith can consistently hit that 20-25 carry mark this season, it will take a sizeable amount of pressure off of the quarterbacks, especially since he hit double-digit carries only once last season (12 against Louisiana), but did so five times in 2011.

It's a big jump for a guy who's had a great career as the No. 2 running back so far, and it will certainly be a fun story to watch unfold when the season starts up in about a month.

But as far as questioning goes, don't ask Smith if he thinks he can handle it.

He knows he can.

"It's gonna be a big year," he said. "We're still gonna stay number one in the Big 12, I have no doubt about that. I'm ready for the season to start."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!