OSU special teams play is especially Sharp

Quinn Sharp was holed up in the airport in Lubbock watching Boise State desperately try to hold on to the respect-earning "0" in its loss column.

The difference? For the second consecutive season, a gimme kick gone haywire.

Freshman Dan Goodale pushed a 39-yard kick wide right from the center of the field, cueing a wild celebration from the TCU sidelines as disappointed fans filed out the exits.

A week earlier, Alabama's perfect season ended on its home field, too, making just two-of-six field goals in a 9-6 overtime loss to LSU.

"That was a heck of a situation. That’s the worst possible situation for a kicker. Especially with Boise, it’s happened two years in a row now, but it’s just one of those things, you really are either the hero or the zero," Sharp said. "You never want to see that happen to somebody like that, but unforuntately, that’s the nature of the game."

Sharp, though, has given plenty of reason to believe Oklahoma State won't find itself in a similar situation.

The Cowboys have played in only two games decided by single digits this season. In those games, Sharp is a combined 6-of-6 on field goals and 8-of-8 on extra points.

"You hear people say you never really notice not having a kicker, a holder, or a snapper until you don’t have one," coach Mike Gundy said.

Nobody's saying much about Oklahoma State's special teams these days, and that's a good thing. Sharp's a whole lot more than a kicker, too. He leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage, at 88.9. He's made 16 of 18 kicks all season.

He's also booted an astonishing 48 touchbacks on 93 kickoffs. The nation's No. 2, Zach Hocker of Arkansas, has 29. Cody Parkey at Auburn is the nation's only other kicker who has forced a touchback on more than 50 percent of his kicks.

"My teammates have kind of learned over the past few years that the touchbacks are going to be there," Sharp said. "It’s kind of like a golf swing. You can overdo it, but if your form is right and you hit it right, it’s gonna go. My leg strength helps with that and my flexibility helps, too."

He's also the punter. His average of 47.64 yards would lead the nation -- if he had enough attempts to qualify. He's only got 33. That's life punting for the nation's No. 2 scoring offense.

That combo? Well, simply put, it's pretty unbelievable.

"He’s three guys playing for us," Gundy said. "He’s the best kickoff man in the country. He’s done a nice job kicking field goals and then in punting, I think we’re maybe No. 1 in the league in net punting. He’s very valuable. We talk about it all the time."

He's not only three guys playing, he's three guys playing as good or better than anyone in the country at three different jobs on special teams. Finding the balance in practice is a task each week.

"Joe DeForest is our special teams coach, and he’s done a great job of managing him and making sure he doesn’t get fatigued and stays healthy and fresh up to this point in the season," Gundy said.

How does Sharp manage?

"I’ll do punts one day. It’s usually 40 percent of my workload during the week. Kickoffs are twice a week," he said. "I try not to focus on all three phases in a day because you’ll wear yourself out, but usually, if I’m doing kickoffs, I’ll just do kicks that day, and then punts the next day.

"It’s usually a 50-50 percentage each day, but field goals are definitely the highest."

It's clearly working. Sharp, a junior, may be doing it for awhile, too.

Sharp punted last season, but competed for kickoff duty and field goal duty from spring through fall camp, when he officially won the job.

"As a head coach, for sure, you have to think about those things," Gundy said. "You do as much prepwork as possible and hope when they get the opportunity to make plays, that they’ll be able to make plays due to repetition and confidence."

Sharp has made lots of them in lots of different ways. There's no guarantee Oklahoma State won't drop a game before season's end, but so far, Sharp's given it plenty of reason to believe he won't be the reason.