Defending big Missouri receivers is a top challenge for OSU secondary

Posted Thursday, Jan. 02, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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No team in the Big 12 can match Missouri’s size at receiver. Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert said he may have faced some as strong, but not bigger.

It will fall on Gilbert and the rest of the Cowboys’ secondary to help slow down those receivers, who helped the Tigers offense rank third in the Southeastern Conference with nearly 500 yards and 39 points a game.

Leading the charge is Doriel Green-Beckham, a 6-foot-6 sophomore who has 55 receptions for 830 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“He’s a big athletic guy. He’s pretty physical,” said Gilbert, who expects to be covering Green-Beckham. “As much as I can. If we see him out there alone I’m going to try spot him up and go get with him.”

L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas are also both over 6-4 and give quarterback James Franklin three options across the field. Washington has 47 catches for 853 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Lucas has 55 catches for 646 yards and two scores.

It’s not only Franklin and his receivers that OSU has to worry about. The No. 8 Tigers (11-2) were second in the SEC with 236.5 rushing yards a game.

“They have a lot of height and they’re very rangy; they can reach up and catch the ball and they try to spread you out and isolated in space,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “Their quarterback has a lot of experience and can run it and throw it. Their running back run is good.”

Mizzou has four players with more than 500 yards rushing, including Franklin and team leader Henry Josey with 1,074 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“They get a lot of publicity about their receivers and their quarterback but they also have a great run game and a solid offensive line,” OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey said. “They don’t get enough credit for that. They can make big plays. They’re just a well-rounded offense. It’s very explosive.”

Josey’s amazing comeback

Doctors compared Henry Josey’s knee injury against Texas in 2011 to something sustained in a car wreck, not on the football field.

Many believed he’d never play again after tearing multiple ligaments and missing the 2012 season.

“I had a friend who is a doctor who looked at the injury and told me, ‘He’ll have trouble walking again, much less playing football,’” said Mizzou offensive coordinator Josh Henson. “But knowing Henry, it’s not a surprise to us. He’s just a great person and his work ethic is just phenomenal. He’s a huge inspiration to our team.”

Even Josey had to be convinced. He endured a painful rehab plan and returned in 2013.

“You just have to get used to being tortured every day,” he said. “That’s the hardest part of it, keeping your mind-set that you’re going to be OK through the pain and everything during rehab.”

Seeing a player persevere through such an ordeal is a career highlight for Henson.

“Those stories, to me, are the great thing about college football,” Henson said. “Obviously, his life could have gone a different direction. But from a leadership standpoint, you look to a guy like that as an example of how to do things the right way.”

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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