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'A hell of a runner': Jaylen Warren shines as Cowboy offense goes old-school at Boise State

Scott Wright
Oklahoman

BOISE, Idaho — For the first two weeks of the season, Oklahoma State could hardly run the football.

For 3½ hours Saturday night, it could hardly do anything else. 

Coming into the night, Oklahoma State had rushed for 194 yards in two games, but on Saturday, running back Jaylen Warren had 218 yards on 32 carries as the Cowboys went old-school in their 21-20 win over Boise State at Albertsons Stadium

“Our offense obviously struggled throwing the football,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “But we were able to run the football when they knew we were gonna run the football.

“It’s a really good win for our guys. We just need to stay the course. Obviously, we’ve got a long ways to go offensively. Personnel-wise, we’ve got to try to come up with some answers to allow us to throw the ball a little better, to at least be somewhat balanced, which we’re not right now.”

For the first 23 minutes of the game, the Cowboys struggled to get anything going — with the exception of a 75-yard touchdown run by Warren. 

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But over the final seven minutes of the first half and virtually all of the second, OSU abandoned the passing game, pounded the run and found a way to make it work, the biggest reason of which was Warren’s hard running. 

The offensive line was improved as well, after hearing for two weeks about their weakness.

“I think we had a really good couple weeks of practice and things really started to click today,” said right guard Hunter Woodard, who made his first start after missing two games because of injury. “We came together, and it’s a testament to how hard we’ve been practicing and the coaches’ game plan.

“A shaky first couple weeks and all, and then it ends up paying off today. (Warren) gets a bunch of yards and we look good as an offensive line, it’s huge and it feels great.”

With the necessary emphasis on the run, quarterback Spencer Sanders was 6-of-13 passing for 8 yards. He hit five of seven throws in the second half, most in crucial situations, like the game-clinching fade to Cale Cabbiness for 24 yards. Sanders also rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown. 

Both Gundy and offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn believed the Cowboys’ run schemes were better this week. 

“Our guys moved them,” Dunn said. “Seriously, they just did a great job of moving their front and creating seams.”

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Oklahoma State running back Jaylen Warren (7) has been the Cowboys' most valuable offensive player of the first half of the season.

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Warren, though, was the star of the night, getting more carries and rushing for more yards than he did in any game of his two years at Utah State.

“When he breaks the big run for 75, we needed a lift,” Gundy said. “We couldn't get a first down. We were struggling. Defensively, we were struggling. He makes the big run, puts us back in the game. And then, he had to run through tackles when they knew we were gonna run the ball. Everybody in the stadium knew we were gonna run the ball. And he still runs through tackles.”

Warren, a graduate transfer, was brought in last December when OSU didn’t know that LD Brown was planning to return for a sixth season. Yet now, Warren has risen to the top of the Cowboys’ depth chart. 

“Jaylen’s a hell of a runner,” Dunn said. “He’s gonna stick his foot in the ground, he’s gonna hit it downhill. He’s got excellent vision.

“The plan was to lean on the running backs. With where we are at receiver (because of injuries), it just emphasized it even more that we were gonna run the football.

“We were gonna lean on the backs. We were gonna lean on the offensive line. Got it done.”

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