Oklahoma State Cowboys
Head Coach: Mike Gundy
2012 Record: 8-5 overall, 5-4 Big 12
2012 Bowl Result: Beat Purdue 58-14 in Heart of Dallas Bowl
2013 Returning Starters: 8 offense, 7 defense
Odds to Win 2014 BCS Championship Game: 50/1
Odds to win 2013 Big 12 Championship: +260
Regular Season Wins: under 9.5 -120 / over 9.5 -110
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After coming within an overtime loss at Iowa St of playing for the BCS Championship in 2011, 2012 was a rebuilding year for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Still the Cowboys won 8 games including a 58-14 pasting of Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. All five losses were to bowl teams, Arizona, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Baylor. Three of the losses were by 7 points or less. OSU had wins over bowl teams UL-Lafayette, Iowa St, TCU, West Virginia, and Texas Tech.
Now, a total of 18 starters return (if you count special teams) and Oklahoma State is picked ahead of Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12.
Mike Yurcich takes over at offensive coordinator for Todd Monken who left to become the head coach at Southern Miss. Yurcich was the coordinator at Division II Shippensburg but now moves up to the big leagues. Turcich’s Red Raiders averaged 46.8 points per game and over 530 (388 passing yards) yards per game last year. Under Monken, the Cowboys were #3 nationally in scoring at 45.7 points per game, but OSU ran a more balanced attack as they were 7th in passing nationally and 21st in rushing.
Last year, Clint Chelf, Wes Lunt, and J.W. Walsh all saw significant time at quarterback, mainly because Lunt and Walsh couldn’t stay healthy. Sophomore Lunt was named the starter before last season and was effective before a knee injury sidelined him. Lunt completed 61.8% of his passes for 1,108 yards with 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Lunt would su later suffer a concussion as well. Lunt transferred to Illinois, his home state in the off-season. Now a sophomore, Walsh took over when Lunt went down He completed 66.9% of his passes for 1,564 yards with 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 50 carries, 290 yards and 7 touchdowns. He was also sidelined with a knee injury. Senior Chelf, a long time back-up for the Cowboys, took over in the second half of the season. Chelf completed 60.4% of his passes for 1,588 yards with 15 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, and 31 carries for 162 yards. OSU head coach Mike Gundy still hasn’t named his starter but expect Chelf and Walsh to both see snaps, regardless of who the starter is.
The Cowboys must replace running back Joseph Randle, now with the Dallas Cowboys. Randle had 274 carries, 1,417 yards, and 14 touchdowns, along with 28 catches for 224 yards. Senior Jeremy Smith had 70 carries, 371 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. Junior Desmond Roland had 46 carries, 301 yards and 4 touchdowns. True freshmen Corion Webster and Rennie Childs will also get some carries, but Smith and Roland will get the majority of the carries. Senior fullback Kye Staley won’t get many carries but he did have 12 catches and 2 scores last year. He will be backed up by Jeremy Seaton.
Oklahoma State has one of the deepest and most talented receiving units in the big 12 if not the country. Junior Josh Stewart had 101 catches, 1,210 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 8 carries, 120 yards and a rushing touchdown. Senior Blake Jackson has tight end size and inside receiver speed. He had 30 catches, 598 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sophomore Austin Hays had 29 catches, 394 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior Charlie Moore had 35 catches, 542 yards and 6 touchdowns. Senior Tracy Moore had 20 catches, 259 yards, and 4 scores, before an ankle injury sidelined him. David Glidden along with recruits Marcell Ateman and Ra’Shaad Samples will also get some catches. Expect OSU to use more 4 receiver sets to take advantage of the talented group of receivers.
Last season, the offensive line led the Big 12 in fewest sacks allowed and was excellent at run blocking as well. Senior Parker Graham moves over from left tackle to right guard to replace Lane Taylor. Senior Brandon Webb returns at left guard after starting there over the second half of last season. Junior Jake Jenkins replaces Evan Epstein at Center. Jenkins could also play guard and junior Chris Grisbhy could play center if that happens. Sophomore Devin Davis will start at left tackle and junior Daniel Koenig will start at right tackle. Freshman tackles Zach Crabtree and Jesse Robinson add depth.
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Glenn Spencer replaces defensive coordinator Bill Young whom Gundy dismissed after last season. The defense gave up 28.2 points per game last year, and Spencer wants to be more aggressive with blitzes and attacking. Seven starters return so the defense should be improved.
Senior defensive end Tyler Johnson had 27 tackles, 5.5 for loss and 4 sacks. Sophomores Jimmy Bean and Trance Clark will rotate at the other end. Tackle Calvin Barnett was first team All-Big 12 last year with 30 tackles, including 8 for loss. James Castleman will start at the other tackle after making 30 tackles, 6.5 for loss and an interception. Davidell Collins, Anthony Rogers, JUCO transfer Naim Mustafaa and recruits Sam Wren and Ofa Hautau add depth to the line.
Senior strongside linebacker Shaun Lewis returns after making 58 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and 2.5 sacks. Senior middle linebacker Caleb Levey made 53 tackles last year and returns as well. Sophomore Ryan Simmons takes over on the weakside. Joe Mitchell, Demarcus Sherod and Kris Catlin add depth to the unit.
Senior free safety Daytawion Lowe returns after making 75 tackles, 4 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions. Senior strong safety Shamiel Gray, a former Wyoming transfer made 72 tackles, with 3 pass break-ups and 2 picks. Seniors Lyndell Johnson and Zach Craig could be used as pass rushers in the new system. Senior corner Justin Gilbert made 63 tackles last year. Sophomore Kevin Peterson will start at the other corner. Larry Ste[hens and Jordan Stern add depth to the secondary.
Gone is star kicker/punter Quinn Sharp, now with the Cincinnati Bengals. Sophomore Bobby Stonebraker takes over the kicking duties. He has a strong leg but needs to work on his consistency. Junior Michael Reichenstein takes over as the punter. He also has a strong leg and should be a good replacement for Sharp. The coverage teams need to improve as they gave up 12.3 yards per punt return and 24.7 per kick return.
Justin Gilbert will return kicks averaging more than 25 yards with a touchdown last year. Josh Stewart and Charlie Moore will return punts. Stewart only returned 2 punts last year but one went for 64 yards. Moore averaged 7.2 yards per return.
The Cowboys open in Houston against Mississippi State, a tough but winnable game against a middle of the pack SEC team. Then comes a trip to San Antonio to take on UTSA, before the home opener against Lamar. The conference slate opens with a trip to Morgantown to face West Virginia, followed by home games against Kansas State and TCU. Next OSU faces road games at Iowa State and Texas Tech. Kansas comes to Stillwater, before the Cowboys head to Austin to take on Texas. Home games against Baylor and Bedlam rival Oklahoma conclude the regular season.
It is great to be aggressive on defense, but too much blitzing comes with a risk. If you get to the quarterback, fine, but if you don’t you risk leaving receivers open. It will be interesting to see if Spencer’s go for broke attitude improves the defense. If it doesn’t then there will be a lot of shootouts as the Cowboys offense will remain one of the best in the country, regardless of who the quarterback is. If OSU can get by Mississippi State in the opener, they will likely be favored in every game until Texas. Ten or even eleven wins seems likely for Gundy and the Pokes. The Bedlam game could decide the Big 12 title, but OSU hopes they will be playing for something even bigger than a conference championship.
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