The preseason buzz in Stillwater, Okla., said Desmond Roland could be a guy to keep an eye on for Oklahoma State this season.
The running back showed why with a 219-yard, four-touchdown performance against Iowa State on Saturday. The junior averaged 8.4 yards on his 26 carries as he put the Cowboys offense on his shoulders and set career highs in carries, yards and touchdown runs. For his efforts, Roland earned ESPN.com Big 12 player of the week honors.
Playing behind season-opening starter Jeremy Smith, Roland had shown signs he could be a bigger part of OSU’s offensive attack earlier this season with solid performances against Mississippi State and West Virginia, but he never got the opportunity to be the man in OSU’s backfield until Saturday.
“I have been waiting on this opportunity for a long time now,” he said. “Once coach told me I would be starting, I was thankful and took advantage of it.”
Roland was particularly lethal on first down with 17 first-down carries for 106 yards and one touchdown to help kick-start OSU’s running game. He's a strong, slashing runner who made the Cyclones defense look silly on a 58-yard touchdown run.
“We felt he deserved the start this week and when he got rolling and playing well, there was no reason to take him out,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “I was interested in watching to see about how his durability held up. He had 26 carries today and we haven’t had guys get that many carries in quite a while."
Gundy is hoping Roland can become the type of workhorse the Cowboys offense has been searching for all season long.
“Sometimes after 15-17 carries, guys have a tendency to fade off,” Gundy said. “[Former OSU all-Big 12 running back] Keith Toston used to get better as the game went on. I’m hoping Roland can do that and get stronger throughout the game.”
If he does the overall outlook could be on the rise, for Roland and the entire OSU offense.