Disclaimer : I am sure that I have something wrong with this preview. If something is incorrect, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email (doubletnation AT gmail DOT com) and I'll get things corrected either in the story or in the comments. The purpose of this preview is to help educate myself and Texas Tech fans about your team.
This is the darling of the Big 12, right?
I have thought for a while that Oklahoma St. head coach Mike Gundy and whatever he is doing will take a hit as coaches and coordinators leave. Much to my dismay, that has happened. At all. Like literally, Oklahoma St. hasn't lost a step, despite my thinking that they would lose a step. The Cowboys just keep doing it and it is pretty much irrelevant as to who is calling plays offensively or calling shots defensively. But this year will be different . . . right?
Gundy replaces Todd Monken (who is now the head coach at Southern Mississippi) with Mike Yurcich, a relative unknown from Shippensburg in Pennsylvania where he was the offensive coordinator in Division II. Meanwhile, defensively, the Cowboys replaced Bill Young who was sharing co-defensive coordinator duties with Glenn Spencer. I actually thought that Young did a pretty good job for Oklahoma St. over the years, so I find this move to be the most interesting situation. Young gave up a ton of yards, but I've sorta resigned myself to thinking that this is life in the Big 12.
Offense | Run
For me, I think that OSU has been so good offensively because they have been able to run the ball too. OSU was 22nd in the nation in rushing offense last year, 58th with Brandon Weeden at the helm and 36th in 2010. Last year and the year before it was with Joseph Randle leading the charge and Kendall Hunter before that. I think that Jeremy Smith gets the reins this year and in limited carries for the past three years, Smith has been just fine. Nothing spectacular and nothing to necessarily unseat either Randle or Hunter, but pretty good. I think that Desmond Roland is going to be the backup here as ballyhooed running back from Abilene, Herschel Sims had some issues.
And this is as good of a time as any in that if Texas Tech wants to be in the top half of the Big 12 in rushing, then this is the place to start. Oklahoma St. ran for 215 yards a game last year, which was good for 2nd in the Big 12, to go along with the #7 ranked passing offense. Oklahoma St. and Baylor are the teams that have been able to do both things really well for the past couple of years.
Offense | Pass
Gundy hasn't named a starter at the quarterback spot, but from the Oklahoma St. folks that I have read, it's most likely going to be Clint Chelf over J.W. Walsh. It's a nice problem to have, for sure, so it's not like there's really a wrong answer here. Walsh completed a higher percentage of passes, 67%, and had a higher touchdown to interception ratio, 15:3, than Chelf who was still pretty darned good, 60% completion percentage and 15:6 ratio. Chelf is more of the passer of the two, but Chelf started the last five games. Maybe Gundy is just going to continue to play both because he can.
And Oklahoma St., despite starting three different quarterbacks, was 7th in the nation in passing offense.
Josh Stewart is the best receiver in the Big 12 and I think that Eric Ward follows right behind him. Stewart was the leader offensively, catching 101 passes and had 1,200 yards receiving with 7 touchdowns. There were a few players that had 30 to 20 receptions including Blake Jackson, Charlie Moore and Austin Hays and I'd guess that this won't change much unless teams start doubling up on Stewart. And Tracy Moore returns after getting hurt early in the year and he was allowed to use 2012 as a medical redshirt and will return for his senior year. In just four games, he had 20 receptions so there's plenty of talent here.
As far as the line is concerned, this group allowed less than one sack per game, which was best in the Big 12 and 9th in the nation. So yes, they're pretty good at what they do. From what I can tell, OSU returns three starters including Parker Graham, Daniel Koenig and Brandon Webb. And Joe Wickline is one of the best offensive line coaches in the Big 12, maybe the country, so this is a position group that I really don't think a lot of, but they continually perform at a high level for year after year, both in pass protection and running the ball.
Defense | Run
Oklahoma St. was very good against the run, or at least I think so, as they were 37th in the nation in run defense and 3rd in the conference. As mentioned above, Oklahoma St. loses quite a bit of production at defensive end and the options to replace those guys are Jimmy Bean, Trace Clark, Tyler Johnson and Sam Wren. I don't know much about any of these guys and the Cowboys really leaned quite heavily on their three defensive ends from last year that graduated.
OSU should be really good up the middle with the return of James Castleman and Calvin Barnett. Barnett is supposed to be an absolute stud and we sorta know about Castleman because he was at one time a Texas Tech commit. This will be the strength of the defense.
Add in SLB Shaun Lewis and MLB Caleb Lavey returning at linebacker and you have a pretty good group of players that should be able to stop the run as well as they maybe did last year. The other starter is Ryan Simmons at the WLB position.
I'd also add that this isn't a situation where one guy was incredibly dominant on the Oklahoma St. defense last year. The leading tackler graduated, Alex Elkins, but he only had 75 tackles last year and was tied with Lowe for the lead. There were a lot of players that were in that 75 to 25 range, 14 to be exact.
Defense | Pass
I think there is a lot to work with here as Daytawion Lowe returns at strong safety, while Justin Gilbert returns at cornerback and Shamiel Gary returns at free safety. Then go ahead and add in Tyler Patmon who started 28 games for Kansas and transferred to Oklahoma St. (he finished his degree so he was free to transfer anywhere. Patmon isn't even listed on the depth chart, but you would assume that he starts, but if he doesn't then Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin are the options.
The pass defense really wasn't particularly strong, and maybe this is the reason why Young was replaced as Oklahoma St. was 110th in pass defense in the nation, which was 7th in the conference. Not only that, but Oklahoma St. went from 24 intereceptions in 2011, which would have been incredibly tough to duplicate, to just 11 interceptions in 2012. Truthfully though, it wasn't just the interceptions as OSU also went from 44 total turnovers in 2011 to just 22 in 2012.
OSU was 66th in the nation in sacks, which was 4th in the Big 12 and loses 9 of the 25 sacks that they generated last year due to graduation.
OSU gave up an average of 280 yards a game, and that included a game where they limited Savanah St. to just 81 yards passing. Towards the end of the year, it appeared that the pass defense was an issue as the Cowboys gave up 290 yards to Kansas St. (L), 401 to West Virginia (W), 284 to Texas Tech (W), 512 to Oklahoma (L) and 296 to Baylor (L). I know that Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury thinks that this is largely the nature of the beast of playing in the Big 12, but wanted to focus on turnovers. That happened in spades for Oklahoma St. in 2011, but not so much in 2012. So maybe this theorem is true: yards are okay, but no turnovers is not.
OSU has to repalce Quinn Sharp, who handled the punting and place-kicking duties for Oklahoma St. last year. That's actually pretty significant in my book, to rely on just one guy to do it all and now he has to be replaced. I don't know that you care about either of these spots, but Michael Reichenstein (I am glad I do not have to remember how to spell that) and Kip Smith are the options at punter while Bobby Stonebraker and Smith are the options at kicker. Justin Gilbert is the primary kickoff return and he was quite good, 23rd in the nation, while Charlie Moore will return punts and he was also okay, 48th in the nation.
I've been wrong about Oklahoma St. for a while now. I've doubted them, maybe because I don't want to team that was on a similar track to Texas Tech in 2008 take a trajectory that I wanted Texas Tech to take. It still defies logic for me to think that Gundy can just plug-and-play offensive coordinators and not lose a beat and now he'll probably do that on the defensive side of the ball.
I can't escape to think that it will catch up at some point, but maybe not. Maybe just having consistency at the top is the most important thing. I can see why Oklahoma St. is the pick at the top of the conference, they have answers at quarterback and the offensive skill positions, a solid offensive line with a solid line coach and return a ton of players defensively. Logically, this makes sense.
Rating the Cowboys
|Offense - Run
|Offense | Pass
|Defense | Run
|Defense | Pass