Jeremy Smith, who started every other game this year, endured two difficult outings in that recent stretch, earning 1 total yard on 15 carries in the Cowboys’ 30-21 defeat at West Virginia on Sept. 28 and gaining 14 yards on 12 carries Oct. 19 in a 24-10 victory over TCU.
Roland’s biggest impact prior to last week had been his 46 yards on seven carries in the West Virginia game, but against TCU when Smith came out in the third quarter, freshman Rennie Childs picked up the slack, even though Roland had already scored a 3-yard touchdown earlier in the game. Childs looked impressive, piling up 45 yards on nine carries and added a 34-yard reception in his first significant appearance of the season, while Roland ended up with just 11 yards on three carries.
Heading into the win at Iowa State, the spotlight was on Childs, but Gundy chose to start Roland, and after gaining 38 yards and scoring a touchdown before the midway point of the opening quarter, Roland assumed the role of OSU’s primary back.
“I wasn’t expecting to get that many carries, but once I started working hard and making plays early in the game, I knew coach was going to let me keep rolling, that’s how he is,” said Roland, who hadn’t handled the ball that many times since his days at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas. “He likes to ride the hot hand. Our offense was making me look good.”
Roland will undoubtedly make his second start against Texas Tech, but once again, how often he gets the ball throughout the game will depend on his performance during the first few series.
“We haven’t changed the reps, the reps will stay the same in practice, but if Desmond continues to stay hot, then we use the other guy as a role player,” Gundy said. “You just have to see how the game goes.”