Big 12 football teams have been done with spring football for a few weeks now, and we’re beginning to gain more clarity as to what the league’s 2019 squads are going to look like. As they head into summer workouts, we’ve been geting into some of the possible issues and potential surprises in store for each Big 12 team.
Oklahoma State enters this offseason with some uncertainty as to what the immediate future might bring. Head coach Mike Gundy has a good case to be called the best current head coach in the Big 12, but last season the Pokes finished ninth in the conference standings. Under Gundy, the Cowboys have bounced back from unspectacular seasons before, but what kind of season could they have in 2019?
Here we get into some tentative impressions of this year’s Oklahoma State squad, providing a projection of offensive and defensive starters for the upcoming season (returning starters in bold) as well as some post-spring observations about the Pokes (You should also definitely check out the Ten12 Podcast’s post-spring football discussion).
|PROJECTED 2019 STARTERS|
|LT||Arlington Hambright (Sr.)||DE||Mike Scott (Sr.)|
|LG||Marcus Keyes (Sr.)||DT||Cameron Murray (Jr.)|
|C||Johnny Wilson (Sr.)||DT||Brendon Evers (So.)|
|RG||Ry Schneider (So.)||DE||Brock Martin (So.)|
|RT||Teven Jenkins (Jr.)||LB||Calvin Bundage (Sr.)|
|WR||Tylan Wallace (Jr.)||LB||Amen Ogbongbemiga (Jr.)|
|WR||Patrick McKaufman (Jr.)||CB||A.J. Green (Sr.)|
|WR||Dillon Stoner (Jr.)||S||Kolby Harvell-Peel (So.)|
|CW||Jelani Woods (So.)||S||Malcolm Rodriguez (Jr.)|
|RB||Chuba Hubbard (So.)||S||Jarrick Bernard (So.)|
|QB||Dru Brown (Sr.)||CB||Rodarius Williams (Jr.)|
Will There Be An Actual Quarterback Competition This Season?
Going into 2018, there was a race at quarterback that involved up to four candidates at one time. Gundy sided with experience in the system in that case, but which way will he go this year? There two primary candidates, neither of whom separated in the spring.
Dru Brown, the senior Hawaii transfer, has the experience with 700 collegiate passes on his stat sheet. Excitement has been building in Stillwater, though, about the arrival of former four star quarterback Spencer Sanders since he got to campus last year.
Both signal callers have a lot in common, but Sanders might have the higher ceiling. Neither really benefits from sitting out this season, so is Gundy likely to give them both a chance with live reps? The answer might be dictated by how the win/loss column start to look as the season starts rolling.
There’s Potential For This Offense
On paper, the Pokes lose a lot from last season, with 1,000 yards receiving and rushing gone, in addition to last year’s primary passer having exhausted his eligibility. But there’s talented potential throughout the skill positions.
Tylan Wallace, the lead receiver from a year ago, is one of the best in the country. Other players in the backfield and on the outside could also put up big numbers, but a lot is dependent on how the Oklahoma State quarterback position works out.
With four starters returning along the offensive line, moreover, stability up front should improve in 2019. The question for Oklahoma State, and new offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson, is how soon it can all come together.
This Could Be A Tough Year For The Run Defense
In the long term, Jim Knowles very well could develop Oklahoma State’s defense into one of the better units in the Big 12. Last year was not a great one for Knowles’ debut, though, with the Pokes having statistically the worst defense in the conference in terms of total defense.
Now, with only one starter returning in the front six, Knowles will have to rebuild the position groups who normally having the most run-stopping responsibilities. That could be good news for lesser known players to step up and make a name for themselves next season, but there might not be immediate improvement for the Pokes in defending the run.
The Cowboys Might Be Biggest Question Mark In The Conference
Last year was only the third time that Oklahoma State didn’t win double digit games this decade. Gundy’s team struggled with inconsistency and was unable to overcome an exodus of historic talent. At one point, there was some doubt in 2018 as to whether the Pokes would qualify for a bowl game.
Given last year’s confusing season for Oklahoma State, this team stands out as extremely difficult to predict within the Big 12. A bevy of young players could make 2020 a big year for the Cowboys, but what will happen this fall feels like anyone’s guess at this point.