LD Brown picked the perfect time to give a little throwback look for the Oklahoma State football program.
On the same day OSU was celebrating former legendary running back Thurman Thomas as the first inductee into its Ring of Honor, Brown coupled with star Chuba Hubbard with a pair of 100-yard rushers – a bit of homage to the days of when Thomas was backed up by another legend, Barry Sanders.
He also paid tribute to Thomas on his 66-yard touchdown run right up the gut of the West Virginia defense on OSU’s first offensive drive.
After coasting into the end zone, he broke out Thomas’ touchdown dance – the Cabbage Patch – that the NFL Hall of Fame tailback shared with the running back corps the night before.
“It’s Thurman Day, so I wanted to pay a little tribute to him,” Brown said. “I was like, if we score this week, I’ve got to Cabbage Patch because we saw him do it in the Sun Bowl. So it was on my (brain), so when I got the crease and hit it and I scored, it just naturally happened.
“And the ref came up to me after and said, ‘Hey, I like the celebration, I’m just happy you didn’t pose with it.’ So he didn’t flag me for it.”
Giving back to the program’s leading rusher wasn’t the only giving from Brown.
He has also given the Oklahoma State offense a way to spread out the work in the running game, something that was sorely missed when Hubbard rushed for 2,000 yards in his breakout redshirt sophomore season.
In the season opener against Tulsa, Brown flashed that potential.
But he had done so in the past.
Against Baylor last year, he had four rushes for 79 yards and gained the praise of the Cowboy coaching staff, but that was followed by two games in which he didn’t touch the ball. He was given another opportunity against Kansas, rushing nine times for 55 yards – but had just three caries for nine yards in the final three games of the season.
Finding that consistency from Brown has been the key for the Cowboys.
And it appears like he has found it at the right time with Hubbard looking sluggish at time in the start of this season.
Brown has nearly duplicated his entire production from 2019 just two games into his redshirt senior season.
He’s rushed the ball 20 times for 166 yards the first two weeks, after finishing last season with 40 touches for 221 yards.
With his nine attempts against Tulsa and his 11 carries against WVU, it was the first time in his Cowboy career in which he ran the ball more than six times in back-to-back games.
“He went back-to-back with high-level performances for us, and … you talk about this all the time that you're gonna play how you practice,” offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn said. “He practiced really well all the way through fall camp, was energetic, hit guys in the mouth in (pass) protection, ran the ball hard – all little things. It's showing up for him now on game day, and I could not be more happier for that young man, because he definitely deserves it the way that he has attacked this season. So I'm really excited for LD, and excited to see what he's got next week, too.”
It’s unlikely the Oklahoma State offense will get 60-plus yards from Brown every game, especially if/when quarterback Spencer Sanders returns from an ankle injury.
But Brown has showcased he can be more consistent for the Cowboys, which will lead the coaching staff to working him onto the field more often. And that can only be a positive for Hubbard.
The Canadian running back was clearly gassed in the final regular season games last season – with his only back-to-back games averaging less than 5 yards per carry coming against West Virginia and Oklahoma.
Hubbard has a quiet 49 carries for 194 yards and two scores this season – at times not looking nearly as explosive as Brown – and part of the reason for his lower numbers are due to the effectiveness of Brown in complementing the running game.
Oklahoma State’s star tailback will likely get on track, sparking interest again from the NFL scouts, but Brown has gotten onto the radar of those same scouts and on Big 12 defenses. And not having to rely on one bell-cow in the backfield will keep the Cowboys on conference championship contenders, especially in the latter part of the season with two running backs splitting the beating on the ground.
Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater News Press. He can be contacted at email@example.com.