OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman has quickly shaken off any rust that might have developed during his long break from game action.
Garman hadn't played in a competitive game since his high school days in 2009 before entering Oklahoma State's second game of the season against Missouri State for the injured J.W. Walsh. He flourished quickly and has led the Cowboys to a three-game win streak and a No. 21 spot in the AP poll.
The junior ranks second in the Big 12 in passing efficiency and third nationally with 19 yards per completion heading into Saturday's game against Iowa State. He's coming off a 370-yard, four-touchdown performance last Thursday against Texas Tech that earned him Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.
''He throws a really good deep ball with a lot of touch, and they throw it a lot of times in a game,'' Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. ''It only takes three of those that are successful and they've got 21 points on the scoreboard. That's a scary piece you start on in preparation.''
Garman threw two interceptions against Texas Tech and made some other mistakes, but offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said overall, his quarterback progressed.
''Everything was easily correctable,'' Yurcich said. ''The good thing is that he played well, and he can play better.''
Here are a few things to watch as the Cowboys (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) host the Cyclones (1-3, 0-1) on Saturday:
SPREADING IT AROUND: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy likes to take advantage of Garman's exceptional arm strength and his receivers' exceptional speed. Seven Cowboys have at least one reception of 39 or more yards.
''You can tell on film they like to throw the ball deep, and they are going to throw the ball deep, so our corners are going to have to get in the receivers' face and challenge them a bit,'' said Iowa State safety T.J. Mutcherson, who has an interception in each of the last two games.
The Cyclones might not be able to focus on one receiver more than the others. The Cowboys have completed 69 passes, yet no player has more than 12 catches. Six players have at least one touchdown grab, and five average at least 20 yards per catch.
OSU DEFENSE: Though the Cowboys have been strong on offense, they've struggled at times on defense. The young unit surrendered 512 yards against Texas Tech.
''I think there are areas where we are certainly vulnerable, but for what we're working with in inexperience, I'm pleased with the output,'' Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. ''There's some tackles that we missed (against Texas Tech. There are areas where we can improve, but I think they are doing a good job with the staff. We just need to bring some young players along as fast as possible and create some depth.''
CYCLONES GROUND GAME: The Cyclones' rushing attack outside of quarterback Sam B. Richardson has been poor. Richardson has 49 carries for 218 yards; the rest of the team has 74 carries for 198 yards, an average of 2.7 yards per carry.
''We've got to fix it,'' Rhoads said. ''It's certainly being addressed. It's not something we're putting our heads in the sand about.''
JEKYLL AND HYDE? It's hard to say which Iowa State team will show up. There's the one that lost 34-14 against Football Championship Subdivision foe North Dakota State and was blown out by Baylor. Then, there's the one that beat Iowa and challenged Kansas State before falling 32-28.
COWBOY FLAGS: The Cowboys have racked up the third-most penalty yards per game in the Big 12 with a 72.2-yard average. They were flagged 10 times for 129 yards in their last game against Texas Tech. Iowa State has the second-fewest penalty yards per game in the league with a 45.2-yard average.
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