Mason Rudolph’s growing base of adoring fans will finally get to see him play at home.
The former Northwestern Trojans quarterback who took over for Oklahoma State late last season as a freshman is 3-1 as a starter. He engineered a victory at Oklahoma and a bowl win over Washington last year, then sparked a season-opening victory at Central Michigan this season. Now, he'll play at Boone Pickens Stadium for the first time Saturday night against Central Arkansas.
“He doesn’t really talk about a lot of things like that,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “He’s a little more quiet and reserved, but I know he has to be excited to play at home.”
Through four career starts, Rudolph has completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,119 yards, with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown against Central Michigan, but the play that got the most attention was his 21-yard scoring run. He’s not known for his mobility – even with that play, he has minus-13 career yards rushing.
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“I’ve never seen him run that way,” receiver James Washington said. “It surprised me. Not everyone knows he can.”
He might have a chance to do big things in the passing game this week. Central Arkansas, a Football Championship Subdivision program, surrendered 372 yards passing in its 45-16 season-opening loss to Samford.
Here are some things to watch for on Saturday:
OSU STREAKS: Gundy is 8-0 against FCS teams since arriving in Stillwater. The Cowboys have won 19 straight home openers and are 3-0 all-time against the Southland Conference, most recently beating Lamar 59-3 in 2013. Gundy is 10-0 in home openers, and has won the past nine by at least 14 points.
BUSY BEARS: Oklahoma State is known for its rapid-fire plays, but Central Arkansas takes it to an extreme. The Bears ran 103 plays against Samford. Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said, combined with Central Arkansas’ tricky offense, will make his job difficult this week.
“They run a lot of formations,” he said. “They have a lot of skilled receivers and running backs catching the ball out of the backfield and running wheel routes. It gives the defensive coordinator a lot of headaches because the defense has to get lined up right and cover the vertical threat, which they’re going to test us a lot more than we had last week.”
CHRIS CARSON: Oklahoma State’s sturdy junior college transfer opened with 89 yards rushing on 21 carries and caught two passes for 23 yards against Central Michigan. If the Cowboys get ahead on Saturday, Carson could post big numbers.
YOUNGSTERS GROWING UP: In last week’s game, 14 Oklahoma State players participated in their first game for the Cowboys. Four true freshmen played for the Cowboys – running back Jeff Carr, wide receiver Jalen McCleskey, defensive tackle Darrion Daniels and safety Kenneth Edison-McGruder.
KICKING HIMSELF? Oklahoma State kicker Ben Grogan missed field goals of 42 and 26 yards against Central Michigan. The junior, who is on the Lou Groza Award watch list (nation’s best kicker), has made 34 of 49 field goals in his career.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .