Freshman ready to assume starter's role

Thursday, October 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Aso Pogi says it's a rare thing indeed when someone actually pronounces his name correctly on the first try.

Soon, that may not be as much of a problem.

Beginning Saturday night against Iowa State, Pogi _ the Samoan name is pronounced AH-so POE-guy, by the way _ will get plenty of attention as the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State.

Pogi takes over for Tony Lindsay, who is finished for the season due to a shoulder injury that will require surgery.

Although he has played in four of Oklahoma State's five games this season, Pogi acknowledges that he isn't fully ready for the challenges he will face this week. But while he may lack experience, he doesn't lack confidence.

``I'll need a week of preparation to get ready for Iowa State,'' said Pogi, a freshman from Lawton who was redshirted last year. ``But as far as mentally and physically, I'm ready to play a football game.''

At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, with a strong arm and good speed, Pogi has the physical makeup for the job. And the time spent during the spring and summer trying to learn the system installed by offensive coordinator Del Miller served him well. He came out of two-a-days as the backup to Lindsay.

``I'm trying hard, and I want to know enough to where this team's in the best situation they can possibly be in at all times,'' Pogi said.

Coach Bob Simmons said he has always been impressed by Pogi's smarts and his willingness to study the game. The many hours Pogi has spent with Miller, Simmons said, should serve him well.

``I just think he'll be a guy who will be able to deal with the pressure and make good decisions, because once he has settled down, he has demonstrated that he can do that,'' Simmons said.

``With him, I think a plus is that he's around all the time, he's around Del all the time and he studies. Now we've just got to be smart about what we ask him to do.''

At times, Pogi has taken too much time while trying to switch plays at the line of scrimmage. He must get better at that, which Simmons said can be done by giving Pogi only a few options from which to choose.

Simmons said his new quarterback also must understand that he has other players out there who can help keep the chains moving.

``What he's got to do is believe that a little will lead to a lot, rather than an all-or-none kind of deal,'' Simmons said. ``He's got a little bit of history of wanting to make the big play. But the goal is to keep our offense on the field, not go three and out.''

The offense has struggled during most of the season. The Cowboys have scored 10 or fewer points in the past three games, and they have only one second-half touchdown all season.

Losing Lindsay, a fifth-year senior, may strike some as a death knell for the offense and the Cowboys, but Pogi said he remains optimistic.

``This football team is very talented,'' he said. ``Our offensive line is talented, our wide receivers are talented, our defensive side of the ball is very talented. We're nowhere close to being done.

``Of course, you've got to make corrections and get back out there. But we've got to stay positive and I think that attitude of the football team is very positive.''