STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) – Oklahoma State’s defensive backs like the idea of facing the best of the best.
The Cowboys say they won’t be intimidated on Saturday night when they open the season against No. 1 Florida State in Arlington, Texas. Florida State will surround returning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston with plenty of NFL potential, but Oklahoma State cornerback Kevin Peterson said the Cowboys are excited about the possibilities.
“We have heard that they have Olympic speed, but covering receivers like that is going to be fun,” Peterson said. “Conditioning is what it’s going to come down to.”
Peterson is the only returning starter in Oklahoma State’s secondary. Cornerback Ashton Lampkin and safeties Jordan Sterns and Larry Stephens are the other starters. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said he expects Oklahoma State’s secondary to be stout, and noted that though the other three players aren’t returning starters, they are fast and have game experience.
“You know how well they’re coached,” he said. “You know they’re going to play hard, and they’re going to be sound and do things the right way.”
Rashad Greene leads Florida State’s receiving corps. The Seminoles lost receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the first round of the 2014 draft, but Greene led the team in catches and yards last season. He returns for his senior year on the cusp of breaking numerous school records. He caught 76 passes for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns last season, including nine catches for 147 yards in the National Championship Game against Auburn.
Kermit Whitfield and Christian Green are the Seminoles’ other starting receivers. Gundy said the Seminoles’ less established receivers also are talented.
Winston passed for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns last season and led the highest-scoring team in FBS history. Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said it’s easy to forget that Winston is just entering his sophomore year.
“I’ve just been so impressed with the year he had last year, with the consistency of it, the accuracy, the composure he has for such, really, a young player,” Spencer said. “The composure that he had in big ballgames, crucial ballgames where some quarterbacks would melt, and he doesn’t. When people pressured him, he didn’t get shook. When people dropped back and played coverage, he was accurate in his throws. He found the open areas.”
Spencer said he knows his players are hearing negative comments about their chances against the Seminoles. He’s focusing on getting his team to win smaller challenges first.
“I’m not an idiot,” he said. “I realize they do see what’s on television and they know how this game’s getting hyped, and that’s part of it. But as a coach, you’re trying every day out on the field to be better than the previous day.”
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