Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy has a philosophy when it comes to coaching and developing his roster.
“College football is about the next guy being ready to play,” Gundy said.
Bullard wide receiver Charlie Moore was ready when the Cowboys needed him earlier this season.
Injuries to other players compelled the Cowboys to give Moore additional playing time at wide receiver after five games and he responded by setting career marks for a single game and a single season in just a couple of weeks.
“With this offense you don’t know who’s going to make the plays,” Moore said. “It’s a fast-paced offense and the last few games they’ve just happened to come to me. I was fortunate to make some plays. The fun part is you never know. Everyone is making plays.”
The Cowboys (7-3, 5-2 in Big 12) are preparing for Saturday’s Bedlam game with Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1). Moore, who was limited by injury last week against Texas Tech, hopes to be able to play in this annual rivalry game.
Moore was a little-used receiver during his first two seasons at Oklahoma State for a couple of reasons. First, he was a converted quarterback. At Bullard, Moore played quarterback and safety and when he arrived on campus he settled on playing wide receiver, where he saw opportunities to put up big numbers in an offense that values the passing game.
“I saw a chance to play right away at wide receiver and play a role on special teams,” Moore said. “My size and speed seem to be a good fit there.”
But early opportunities didn’t translate into numbers. In his first two seasons Moore caught just 7 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown.
There was a good reason for that. The Cowboys were a veteran-laden team when Moore arrived, led by All-America wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Josh Cooper. So Moore hunkered down and watched the pair work.
“I can’t do anything as well as Justin or Josh but the more I watched the better I got at running routes and seeing when a particular play was open,” Moore said. “That was the main thing I picked up. It doesn’t look like them, but the more you watch the more you improve.”
For the first four games of this season little changed. Moore caught six passes for 94 yards.
Moore’s season turned at Kansas on Oct. 13. In that game Moore caught five passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a 72-yarder. Gundy watched with delight as his junior receiver turned one of the Cowboys’ base routes into a career scoring play.
“(Charlie) made a guy miss and then Josh Stewart made a great block,” Gundy said after that game. “Once he did that it triggered the play. Charlie is really fast when he gets going. He’s under 4.5 (in the 40) when he gets rolling.”
As good as the Kansas game was, Moore was even better the following week against Iowa State, a game in which Gundy made Moore a team captain. Moore set new career marks with eight receptions and 129 yards. Moore scored a touchdown from 74 yards out.
Two weeks later Moore caught seven passes for 135 yards and a touchdown against Kansas State. In a five-game stretch Moore caught 23 passes for 387 yards and five touchdowns. His touchdown catches of 72 and 74 yards made him the first OSU receiver in history to record two 70-plus yard receptions in a season.
Moore admits he hasn’t spent too much time worrying about his numbers.
“After the game you notice that,” Moore said. “You see the numbers, but when you step on the field and you start moving the football I just don’t pay attention to it, in terms of career games. It’s been a great opportunity and it’s been a blessing. I hope I can keep it going.”
Moore has also made a more meaningful contribution on special teams on punt returns. He’s made 18 of the team’s 32 punt returns and has a 7.2-yard average with a long of 27.
Like his first two seasons at wide receiver, there’s been a learning curve on punt returns.
“The coaches have been very good about helping me get used to it,” Moore said. “The main goal is to hold possession. If you break one and get over 10 yards, they’re happy. The special teams coach reminds us to get the first first down for the offense.”
Moore admits his college experience has already been more than he could ask for. He was part of last year’s Big 12 championship team as the program claimed its first conference title in decades. He was part of last year’s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, one of the best bowl games in recent memory, which the Cowboys won, 41-38, to cap a 12-1 season. He’s met OSU alums like Barry Sanders and Garth Brooks.
The Cowboys are bowl-eligible again this year and Moore is looking forward to another bowl trip and one more season in the Cowboys’ offense.
He’s just happy he was able to provide a spark this season.
“It’s been a blessing,” Moore said. “I’ve been having a blast with these guys. We’re really enjoying the team. The numbers have been good. The team has been good. I’ve been working hard. I’m very thankful and I’m enjoying every moment.”