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Chalk Talk: After Featured in the Bowl, How Big will the Cowboy Back Be in 2018?



Oklahoma State’s usual playmakers helped the Cowboys to a 30-21 win over Virginia Tech, but the unsung hero of the position groups had the most production, relatively speaking, it’s had the entire season.

The use of the Cowboy Back has changed from year to year ever since being brought to the offense in 2015. It often serves as an extension of the offensive line, frequently aligning in the backfield as a “buck,” or blocking back. Although it was rarely used in the passing game in 2017, it received some recognition against the Hokies last week.

OSU used the Cowboy Back a handful of times in their game plan. They opened the game with a play for Britton Abbott, where he bluffed a split zone block on the end and ran to the flat.

The Cowboy also flipped route assignments when they went shallow cross one one occasion in the third quarter.

Usually they have the Cowboy Back run the shallow route, but here they make the slot receiver the shallow and the Cowboy Back the dig read.

They also used a play specifically for the Cowboy Back in the fourth quarter on a snag play. The completion would have gone for a big gain, and the pick would have been legal since the ball would have been caught behind the line of scrimmage, but Sione Finefeuiaki couldn’t hold onto the catch (why Abbott didn’t play on this snap is unknown).

Remember the Cowboys ran this once last year, coincidentally in their 2016-2017 bowl game against Colorado:

Abbott, Finefeuiaki and fellow Cowboy Back Keenen Brown combined for 11 receptions for 152 yards this season, which is negligible in comparison to the other skill position players. The position isn’t necessarily meant to be a flashy position, but the Cowboys got a considerable amount of production from the position with players like Jeremy Seaton and Blake Jarwin.

The Cowboys’ bowl game showed flashes of contribution from the Cowboy Back, but it’s far from being considered a major threat by anyone. The future of the position is unclear, especially considering OSU used more 10 personnel in the back half of the season and will still have a deep receiving corps in 2018.

The position group doesn’t lose anyone, and will include Keenen Brown, Abbott, Finefeuiaki, Baron Odom and converted quarterback Jelani Woods. Odom and Woods are big bodies that could create mismatches in the passing game, although Woods will be a project. Still, it’s a position of intrigue and one we’ll continue to write about through the offseason.

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