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Improved Young Corners for Oklahoma State Will be Tested This Weekend in Morgantown



Coming into this season, Mike Gundy seemed more confident than the rest of us about Oklahoma State’s cornerbacks. True sophomore A.J. Green and redshirt freshman Rodarius Williams had a combined zero starts between them, but there was Gundy rolling them out there for a preseason top 10 team.

Give us the Clemson transfer, we said. Ramon will be back there by Big 12 play, we said. That will never work, we said. You know what? So far it’s kind of worked.

Green and Williams lead a secondary that is No. 3 nationally in TDs given up (4 total!) and No. 31 nationally in yards per attempt given up. Maybe even more importantly (to Gundy anyway) is that Oklahoma State is also No. 3 nationally in passes of 30-plus yards given up (just 4 on the season) — that’s a category where Oklahoma State ranked No. 102 nationally last year.

I’m not going to say Green and Williams have been a revelation — let’s not crown them until they face Oklahoma and West Virginia — but they’ve been far better than I think any of us expected. It finally crystallized for me on Saturday in Austin. They were both all over the field all day and forced an imperfect QB to try and play perfectly.

All of that culminated in a play near the end of overtime in which Green went up to defend a pass in the end zone against Lorenzo Joe. It was fantastic coverage, but he got flagged.

“I thought he had damn good coverage,” said Gundy. “He’s a freshman, he’s going up, he’s fighting for his life, he’s in overtime. I got no problem with what he did. Now, maybe he yanked on him or pulled him, something on TV that I won’t be able to see, either way, kid is trying to make a play, he’s in man coverage back in the back of the end zone, so our backs were against the wall.”

Note: actually not a freshman, but still damn good coverage.

Despite their work thus far, though, Nos. 4 and 8 will be tested in a way they haven’t been tested so far this season on Saturday morning in Morgantown.

“They have probably the best passing quarterback that we’ll have faced up to this point,” said Gundy this week. “I think this guy throws it better than anybody we’ve played up to this point.”

This guy is Florida transfer Will Grier, and he leads the country in passing TDs with 26. He has more TDs to one receiver (15 to David Sills V) than 95 other FBS teams have total.

“I think I heard Coach Gundy say that Will Grier is the best quarterback we’ve faced all year, and he is,” said Glenn Spencer on Tuesday. “He’s got touch, he sees the field well and you’ve seen him improve from the first game until now. He doesn’t get flustered and throws a catchable ball, so I think they were fortunate to get him in there.”

To this point in the year, Oklahoma State’s secondary has held five of seven teams below their season average in passing yards, including all four in Big 12 play. Is this group along with Tre Flowers and Ramon Richards playing up to the level of that 2013 defense with Justin Gilbert and Co. roaming around? No, it’s not, but for a pair of untested pups at CB in the biggest season of their lives, it’s been a pretty great run so far.

“I think it’s just the game slowing down for them as they get more reps,” Spencer said of Green and Williams. “They don’t panic. The big thing for guys on the outside like that is that they have to play under control. They have to play very disciplined and very technique-oriented. When they’re not, bad things happen.

“Sometimes, experience is the best thing that can happen to a guy and they’ve gotten experience and have been able to learn from it.”

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