This is Chatmon’s first year covering OSU football, but his fifth with the Oklahoman, the state’s largest newspaper. He previously worked the high school beat, a stint which included covering Blake Griffin, Sam Bradford, Gerald Jones and Xavier Henry, among other nationally known prep standouts.
(Check out Chatmon’s Q&A with me at The Oklahoman here.)
TheDerisoReport.com: Who are the offensive players on the Oklahoma State roster that Grambling fans should keep an eye on?
Brandon Chatmon: You’ve probably heard all about WR Dez Bryant, QB Zac Robinson, HB Kendall Hunter and LT Russell Okung. If not, here’s the skinny: Bryant is the real deal, probably the best receiver in the nation. Robinson is one of the Big 12’s top signal callers, Okung is a likely NFL first rounder and Hunter, who may not play, is the Big 12’s returning leader in rushing yards.
TDR: Who are the Cowboys’ top defenders?
Chatmon: CB Perrish Cox, who also may not play, is OSU’s top playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. He ranks among the nation’s best in passes defended this season. LB Andre Sexton is the leader of the defense and is a linebacker who can cover and is a good tackler. LB Donald Booker is the Cowboys leading tackler after stepping in when starter Orie Lemon was lost for the season.
TDR: What is the atmosphere around the team heading into this game? How do they view it?
Chatmon: They say all the right things. They seem to be taking this game seriously and want to get the Cowboy offense back on track heading into Big 12 action.
TDR: How has Orie Lemon’s absence changed this defense? Is losing a player of his caliber part of what’s created some inconsistency?
Chatmon: Gundy considers him one of the Cowboys top defensive players so it was a huge loss. At the same time, Donald Booker has stepped in and played extremely well. Booker has made some mistakes but once he gets used to playing a full four quarters things will be fine. Where it hurts OSU is their depth, Booker provided a great backup who could give guys some plays off until Lemon’s injury, now they don’t necessarily have that.
TDR: As you say, Lemon was just the first in what seems like a string of critical injuries. Will Hunter, Cox and Bryant get on the field?
Chatmon: OSU is really beat up right now. They have a lot of guys playing with bumps and bruises. I think if they had to play, all three could tough it out but OSU may decide, and I’d agree, to sit those guys out and make sure they are healthy heading into what promises to be a physical Big 12 conference slate.
TDR: Louisianians are passionate about food. Share some tips on tailgating, the local stadium fare — and where to head post-game for the tastiest meal in town.
Chatmon: Come early, walk around and don’t hesitate to tailgate with Cowboys fans. OSU fans have become known for their hospitality. You have several post-game options. Eskimo Joe’s is a well-known spot, right up the road from Boone Pickens Stadium, which fans and tourists alike frequent quite often.
TDR: Is Richetti Jones the story of the year in Stillwater? Describe his play after overcoming such a devastating hip problem.
Chatmon: Richetti is coming along. His game against Rice on Saturday was his best of the season. If he can emerge and become the player OSU expected him to be out of high school it will be one of the stories of the year, not just in Stillwater, but in the Big 12 .
TDR: Can people joke with Mike Gundy about his I’m-a-man You Tube moment, or is that off limits?
Chatmon: I dunno, never tried. Are you volunteering? If so make sure I’m around when you do… lol
TDR: Who is the most overlooked/underrated player on the team?
Chatmon: Offensive lineman Brady Bond. He’s a four-year starter but he’s overshadowed by future NFL draft pick Russell Okung at the other tackle spot. If you’re looking for a choice with a lil’ more spunk, I’d say safety Lucien Antoine. The guy is all over the place on defense and is one of the hardest hitters in the Big 12.
TDR: What’s the one thing Grambling fans will learn about Oklahoma State football on Saturday?
Chatmon: Every day at OSU is like Halloween … just kiddin’. But seriously, Grambling fans will see a stadium packed with orange-clad OSU fans who are passionate about their team but at the same time treat opposing fans with respect.