Opponent: @ Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Last Year's Record: 10-3
Coach: Mike Gundy
Game 4: September 25th
1. Replacing on Defense. Oklahoma St. is replacing 6 or 7 starters on defense from what I can tell. And these are actually contributors, not just guys on the defense. The line is relatively okay, with James Castleman and Jimmy Bean being part of a rotation from last year. It is the back seven that are replacing a handful of players. It seems like OSU hasn't really had to rebuild, just reload and I always doubt that they'll just have guys that can simply continue winning 10 to 8 games, but Oklahoma St. really is at that point.
2. Garman vs. Walsh. Perhaps the quarterback carousel will be a bit settled as J.W. Walsh should get the call, but it wouldn't at all surprise me if Daxx Garman nudged his way into the lineup at some point. Walsh was pretty good, but he was inconsistent. I recall Garman being at the heart of an investigation of some sort of Southlake Carroll, committed to Arizona and then transferred to Oklahoma St. I think Garman eventually moved to Oklahoma, but Garman was supposed to be the second in a long line of Southlake quarterbacks that were going to succeed.
3. Hill is Blazing. Tyreek Hill is supposed to be the real deal. A big-time track athlete and incredibly fast on the football field, Hill is already penciled in as a start at one of the wideout positions. Hill isn't a big receiver, 5-10/185, but he's going to create problems defensively for teams. He'll immediately be one of the fastest players in the Big 12 when he steps on the field in 2014.
4. Wickline is Gone! (Sorta) Offensive line coach Joe Wickline is finally gone and that's great news for teams playing against Oklahoma St., but horrible news for teams playing against Texas. Wickline always seemed to get the most out of his line and there was always a strong running game that accompanied the spread offense that OSU utilized. I kept thinking that with a revolving door of offensive coordinators, it would be problematic for the team to keep up, but it really hasn't been problematic at all. I've been wrong the past few years about that situation from Holgorsen to Monken and now to Yurich. The constant of course has been Wickline. Now that part of the equation is gone.
5. Let's Talk About Mike Gundy. I really do find Mike Gundy to be an odd duck. He strikes me as someone who is reclusive a bit, that seems to despise his relationship with the media and generally doesn't seem all that happy. Yet, the recruiting train really doesn't stop. Gundy continues to bring in solid recruiting classes, despite what I perceive as Gundy simply not being happy. And I haven't even mentioned the dance with Tennessee last year. If anything, it makes you think about how relationships, even if you are an alum, can sour over time. I suppose it is also interesting to see how the relationship between athletic director and coach can be a problem over time. Texas Tech fans know all to well how athletic directors can tend to get in the way a bit too much, but there is a line where the coaches for the major programs cannot simply control the entire program. Trying to figure out where that line is, is a tough situation. And make no mistake, Oklahoma St. has been on a roll, essentially since 2008. Since 2008, Oklahoma St. has essentially whipped the tail of Texas Tech, as much as any other program. As good as Oklahoma St. and Gundy have been, especially against Texas Tech. And he seems to have a terrific relationship with his players, despite my perception of him. So maybe I'm the one that's not falling in line.
Q&A with Cowboys Ride for Free:
Much thanks to the good folks at Cowboys Ride for Free for taking the time to answer some questions about Oklahoma St.
1. What are your expectations for 2014?
AUKingOState: I expect the Cowboys to play a minimum of 12 football games. But seriously, I'm pretty down on this season. We keep losing players on defense to injury, transfer, etc, so a strength of the team the past few seasons is gone. On offense I expect we will snap the ball a minimum of three times per possession. But seriously, I'm pretty down on this season.
I'm guessing you want a record prediction, so I'll give you one, 8-4.
Robert Whetsell: Very tempered, and it all revolves around the defense. I think anything that is not a losing season is a possibility, and would be welcome. 8-5, maybe 7-6 with a minor bowl game. Honestly, a losing season is a possibility, but I really don't want to think about that right now.
2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Cowboys?
AUKingOState: The strengths? We'll we have a pretty sweet uniform combination each game. I suspect we have quality helmets and tasty gatoraid. Weaknesses? Everything else. Okay let's be serious for a moment. I'm sorry, I need to be more positive, I know, but I've spent most of my summer in and out of Waco, Austin, and Odessa for work, so my life outlook is pretty low at the moment.
I think receiver can be a strength of this team, even with the loss of Josh Stewart. Marcell Ateman, Jhajuan Seales, and CJ Curry could be a great, and we'll need them to be. If Rennie Childs can develop like we all hope he could be the next great OSU running back, but he won't have the best line to run behind.
As far as weaknesses my top two would be offensive line and linebacker.
Robert Whetsell: Running back, wide receiver, and defensive end will be strong. Offensive and defensive lines plus the QB's have something to prove, but without question the weakness will be linebacker and secondary. Over 90% of the tackles recorded by these two groups are gone. That's not a good thing in a league like the Big 12.
3. Who are two of the best players to watch on offense and defense for Oklahoma State?
AUKingOState: Two best on offense, I'm going with JW Walsh and Jhajuan Seales. JW cause somebody has to take the snaps, and Seales cause I think he's going to be good.
Defense, let's try Jimmy Bean and Kevin Peterson.
Robert Whetsell: Offensively, Tyreek Hill is THE marquee player, and he will be at both WR and RB. After him, WR Jhajuan Seales, Marcell Ateman, Rashaad Samples. I think Rennie Childs could be a real break out at RB with the departure of Jeremy Smith. On the other side of the ball LB Ryan Simmons, DT James Castleman, and CB Kevin Peterson are about the only guys coming back with any name recognition, so let's keep an eye on them. Pretty confident that a first year contributor will have big season. Heaven knows they will have the opportunity on defense. I know that's more than two each, but what the hell, we may be desperate in Stillwater.
BONUS: This is a totally random question, but here goes. What's the best thing about Oklahoma State? I'm leaving this intentionally open ended.
AUKingOState: Best thing? Well I've spent so much time there that it's really hard to name one thing, but I'll try. Homecoming. That's it. Every year we all flock back like we belong to a cult, get drunk, and it's just like you never left.
Robert Whetsell: Stillwater is a massively fantastic college town. The school has a distinct personality, a beautiful campus, and the town really embraces home games. While not the best place in town to grab a bite to eat, Eskimo Joe's is known in a lot of corners of the world. I've received many comments on my sweatshirt, which I get plenty of opportunity to wear in the northeast. You would also have a hard time beating the chili cheese fries. I have to say Stillwater on game day is one of things I miss about Oklahoma.
From the Spring:
Oklahoma St. didn't have a spring game, just spring practices and here is Head Coach Mike Gundy:
"We had a really good practice today, a good finish. We had an about 80-play scrimmage. We pushed our players more this spring - this week - than we have since I've been the head coach here. From a scrimmage standpoint, we're so young that we needed enough work. We said they don't have enough days to get these guys ready, but their effort was good. I asked them to max themselves out today, because obviously there is no tomorrow. We're healthy, and the defense made plays. The offense made plays. Tyreek (Hill) made a few plays. Kevin Peterson and (Ashton) Lampkin made a few plays. It was really a good spring and a good practice today."
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer:
On what they got done in spring practice this year:
"We got a lot done. I'm still not happy, but we got a lot done. There was some improvement made - a lot of it - mostly in the tough situations we put them in, some adversity that happened and watching and studying and seeing yourself on tape and realizing what you think you're doing and what you're actually doing doesn't match up sometimes, our perception of what we are and then what we are accomplishing is a lot different. Those things were huge and we took a big step toward that. To me, we're just taking a little break before we start practicing again. You can either say we come back to camp and that's the first day of fall camp, or that's the 16th day of spring practice. It's just one more practice and then hopefully we'll keep making some gains."