September 07, 2015

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Chris Carson's Oklahoma State debut was a big success.

Carson was voted the Big 12's preseason newcomer of the year, but coach Mike Gundy maintained he wouldn't know what the running back could really do until he performed in a real game.

Gundy got the answer he was looking for when Carson gained 89 yards on 21 carries in the Cowboys' 24-13 victory at Central Michigan last Thursday.

''I thought Chris Carson had what I would consider a good game,'' Gundy said. ''There were times he was a little hesitant to accelerate through a hole, in my opinion, but he made moves, made guys miss, made spin moves, jumped outside, got us some key yards at times.

''In just my opinion after one game, which it's way too early, that he gave us something that we hadn't had, just from the ability to get out there and get more yards than what he should. I thought he ran hard.''

Carson also caught two passes for 23 yards in his OSU debut. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound junior college transfer had 994 yards and nine touchdowns on 139 carries last year for Butler Community College.

''He's going to be really good,'' Oklahoma State fullback Jeremy Seaton said. ''He's a downhill, hard-nosed runner.''

The Cowboys finished with 153 yards on the ground, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, including quarterback Mason Rudolph's key 21-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

It was a solid start for a rushing attack which averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and 136.6 yards per game last season, which ranked 99th in the nation among FBS schools.

Before the opener, Gundy discussed how Carson and junior Rennie Childs, who rushed for 294 yards and three touchdowns last season, likely would split the running duties, suggesting that each might have 15 carries against Central Michigan. But Childs ran it just five times, gaining 36 yards.

Expect a similar distribution of carries on Saturday, when Oklahoma State hosts Central Arkansas (0-1).

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich pointed to OSU's first play of the second half as one where Carson's effort embodied everything Oklahoma State preaches on offense.

''It was just a simple inside zone and Carson got 4 and a half yards, I think, and that was one of the highlight runs we had,'' Yurcich said. ''I know it was only a 4-and-a-half-yard run, but he kept his legs going, he took on two hits. It was a very impressive physical-determination run, so it was one of the things that we wanted to make sure we highlighted and showed to our unit, that exemplifies what we're looking for.''

Still, as impressed as his coaching staff was with Carson, Gundy accepted that there is likely to be some additional adjustments necessary.

''There's a considerable difference between junior college and this level of football,'' Gundy said. ''You have bigger players who run faster. That's really what it comes down to, it just moves a lot faster at each level. So he's going to still go through a little bit of a transition, but we were pleased with what he gave us in the first game.''

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