STILLWATER, Okla. — Baylor had no intention of allowing James Washington burn the Bears the way the Oklahoma State receiver had torched nearly every other unit he had faced.
The Bears took notice after Washington caught nine passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns against Pittsburgh two weekends ago. Baylor didn’t stop him completely __ he had six receptions for 89 yards last Saturday — but the Bears double-covered him and kept him contained in a 35-24 victory.
Washington leads the Big 12 and ranks sixth nationally with 122 yards receiving per game. His Cowboys look to take advantage of the openings his presence creates when they host No. 22 Texas on Saturday.
“He’s going to start to see some coverages,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Monday. “If so, we’ve got to be able to run the football.”
Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said Washington was solid against Baylor, despite the extra attention.
“He was still open quite a bit Saturday,” Yurcich said. “He did a pretty good job of getting open. He’s a pretty determined guy. You’ve got to do a good job on him. Even if you double cover him, you’ve got to do a good job on him.”
Washington has a powerful 6-foot, 205-pound frame and looks more like a running back than a receiver. He has the jets to get down the field, and his strong-armed quarterback, Mason Rudolph, can get the ball to him seemingly anywhere.
Washington has a reception of at least 70 yards in four of his past 10 games. Last season, he had touchdown grabs of 75 and 73 yards last season against Texas Tech and 73, 50 and 48 yards against TCU. He caught a 72-yard pass against Oklahoma that didn’t go for a score. He finished last season with 53 catches for 1,087 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Even with all that success, his approach didn’t change in the offseason.
“He’s the same quiet, calm, humble guy who’s hungry to work, hungry to succeed.” Rudolph said.
For the season, Washington has 25 catches for 488 yards and three scores, including a 92-yard touchdown catch this season against Pittsburgh.
“I think he kind of knew coming in that there was going to be a target on his back for how well he performed last year,” Rudolph said. “He’s responded well. He’s done a great job. Any game plan a defense has to take him away, he’s never let it get to him. He always finds a way to get the ball in his hands.”
Washington’s effect on the team goes beyond the numbers.
“He’s a great team guy,” Yurcich said. “He leads by example. Not a real vocal guy, but doesn’t need to be. His play speaks for itself. He’s an intense, very focused guy. He brings a lot of energy to practice every day.”
Washington is climbing Oklahoma State’s career charts. Last week, he became the ninth Oklahoma State player to surpass 2,000 career yards receiving. His 19 career touchdowns are seventh in school history. He has caught at least one pass in 23 consecutive games.
“I think he’s been consistent,” Rudolph said. “That’s all you can ask for from your playmakers is to be consistent and to have production.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter @CliffBruntAP