First Look At The Oklahoma State Cowboys

Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Get to know the Oklahoma State Cowboys with an overview of the team before delving more deeply into how the two teams match up.

Losses and Preview

Key losses: QB Brandon Weeden, WR Justin Blackmon, WR Josh Cooper, C Grant Garner, OT Levy Adcock, DE Richetti Jones, DE Jamie Blatnick, SS Markelle Martin.

Nightmare fuel for Manny Diaz:

The scariest thing about the OSU offense is how quickly things can snowball if they get in a groove. When the Cowboys are forcing you to defend the entire field with their high-paced passing game, the opportunities open up for Randle and Smith, to devastating results. When this offense is hot, you're not shutting them down. You're hoping to slow them down enough to stay in the game.

Nightmare fuel for Bryan Harsin:

The name of the game for the Texas offense this year is avoiding turnovers, and that's what this experienced group of OSU ballhawks does better than anything.

Assessment from PB's preview:

I have a lot of respect for OSU and have always gotten along great with Cowboys fans, but I feel better about our match up with them than I have in a while -- most importantly, because this isn't a Texas defense you want to face with a freshman quarterback. And yeah, I'm glad that we're catching them early in the schedule, because this is a team that's going keep getting better throughout the season.

Game Recaps

Oklahoma State 84, Savannah State 0 -- First of all, Savannah State isn't even that good for an FCS team, so the 84-0 beatdown wasn't exactly a shock. And makes the film basically useless, as Longhorns head coach Mack Brown noted on Monday.

The main takeaway is really a pretty awesome quote from the Savannah State head coach Steve Davenport after the game, when he offered this about the value he received for the school's nearly $400,000 beatdown:

We're going to have to readdress that. You get paid for certain things, but I don't know if at the end of the day, some things are worth the payments you get. But we'll see. Those are conversations we'll have.

Great stuff, coach

Oklahoma State gets better work against their scout team, a fact that is a credit to the recruiting done there as much as a knock on Savannah State.

All the numbers aren't even really that worth relating, other than the 84-0 final score and the fact that freshman quarterback Wes Lunt completed all 11 of his passes in his collegiate debut for 121 yards, though he let the running backs do most of the work, as Joseph Randle, Jeremy Smith, and Desmond Roland combined to score the first seven touchdowns of the game for the Pokes.

Arizona 59, Oklahoma State 38 -- A surprising loss for the Cowboys on the surface, but one that resulted from the common issues that derail offenses -- penalties and turnovers. Mike Gundy's squad committed 15 penalties for 167 yards, turned the ball over four times, and failed to convert on both fourth-down conversion attempts. Many of the penalties were of the personal foul variety, prompting Gundy to call his team "undisciplined" after the game.

On the other side of the ball, Arizona rang up more than 500 yards of total offense, no real surprise given the quick pace of the offense and the bend-but-don't-break nature of the defense historically under coordinator Bill Young.

The Wildcats scored 30 straight points after falling behind by two touchdowns, reminiscent of some of the big-time Texas comebacks like the 2004 explosion, which featured seven unanswered trips to the endzone for Vince Young and the 'Horns.

Oklahoma State 65, Louisiana-Lafayette 24 -- There's not much to take from a Big 12 power beating down a Sun Belt opponent, normally, but this isn't really a normal year with former SBC doormat Louisiana-Monroe rising to prominence with a high-profile victory and two close losses. Still, the Cowboys took care of business, taking a 44-0 lead into halftime and cruising from there.

The big news was the loss of starting quarterback Wes Lunt to a knee injury early in the game, leaving JW Walsh to take over the reigns, which he did ably, hurting the Ragin' Cajun defense with his legs and his arm, much as he did in high school leading the multiple Denton Guyer offense orchestrated by his father, completing passes efficiently, avoiding turnovers, and making plays with the ball tucked under his arm.

Standouts

Junior wide receiver Blake Jackson -- One of the players who has burst onto the scene for Oklahoma State is junior wide receiver Blake Jackson, a former junior college tight end who was moved to receiver due to his lack of blocking prowess during his time at tight end. He's now a 6-5, 235-pound inside receiver who will provide some difficult match ups for smaller Texas cornerbacks and has broken off some big plays this season, including a 58-yard catch and a 100-yard receiving game against Arizona.

Junior running back Jeremy Smith -- The Oklahoma native flashed his skills against the Longhorns with his 74-yard touchdown run against the Longhorns last season that become a poster child for the broken run fits that were a major issue during the October meltdown against the Oklahoma schools.

At 5-10 and close to 210 pounds, Smith is the pure running back to the taller, more slender Randle, who excels in the Oklahoma State scheme, but doesn't have the prototypical build of Smith, a better NFL prospect.

Big fan of Smith.

The Cowboy cornerbacks -- An opposite sides of the field, the cornerbacks, Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert, can give Diggs and Byndrom a run for their money as the top cornerback duo in the conference. Both are experienced and well-respected around the league, as evidenced by the 5-8 Brown earning preseason All-Big 12 honors over Byndom.

Gilbert is one of the most dynamic kick returners in the country -- witness his effort last year out of the half against Texas -- and a guy Texas probably should have recruited harder, and may have, if his first two games of his senior season hadn't been wiped out by Hurricane Ike.

And the fact that Texas had already taken AJ White, Bryant Jackson, Carrington Byndom, and Adrian Phillips. The latter two have turned out extremely well, and of the former two, while neither look like great takes at this point, it wasn't like Gilbert was heavily on the radar when they were taken, with White in particular considered the top corner at the time.

Offensive line coach Joe Wickline -- A one-time target of the Longhorns before Mack Brown settled on Stacy Searels, Wickline is among the best in the business, taking talent considered average by the recruiting services and turning them into NFL prospects at best or strong collegiate players at worst. The guy is a magician, and he's a big part of the reason why Oklahoma State has one of the best running offenses in the entire country for a team that is basically pure spread.

Senior punter/placekicker/kickoff specialist Quinn Sharp -- Any team would be lucky to have him handling all phases of the kicking game. Like Justin Tucker, except a better punter and kickoff specialist, but without the history of super-awesome clutch kicks like beating Texas A&M.

Junior linebacker Shaun Lewis -- A Houston-area product passed over by the Longhorns for being a bit undersized, Lewis has been at the forefront of the new safety/linebacker hybrid trend over the last several years. A playmaker with five career interceptions, four fumble recoveries, and three forced fumbles. Always around the football, Lewis is probably the one player that Ash needs to keep track of more than any other, especially as he drops to undercut routes over the middle or into the flats, areas he can cover easily with his speed.

Quick hits

* The Oklahoma State defensive line may be as deep as any in the conference. Junior college standout Calvin Barnett, a 2010 Arkansas commit who was a fringe top-100 player by Rivals before failing to qualify and ending up at Navarro JC, before making an impact early with 2.5 tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry, and eight tackles overall.

* Departing ends Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones accounted for 83 tackles and 17.5 tackles for loss last season.

* In looking up and down the roster, there's a lot of talent on this Oklahoma State team, with a number of four-star prospects . While Gundy and company don't often go head-to-head and win against Texas, the combination of evaluation and development -- on offense more so than defense, although the defense has steadily been increasing in talent -- has resulted in a team that has as near-elite athleticism across the board. These guys can play, and many of them were from Texas, so they'll have that chip on their shoulder that Longhorn fans see so often from in-state prospects going against the state's flagship school.

They said it... the Texas coaches speak

Texas is preparing for both quarterbacks, per head coach Mack Brown:

So any time it's that close, what we would do is prepare for both of them anyway. [Freshman QB Wes] Lunt is not a runner. They're not going to run option with him. Probably not going to run quarterback draw. [Redshirt freshman QB] J.W. [Walsh] is a guy that can beat you with his feet or his arm. What you have to do is go in prepared to stop the run the best you can, then try to force them to throw the ball. Obviously that's more difficult with J.W. than it is with Wes.

Brown believes that the coaching staff in Stillwater is getting it done (he's right):

They have tremendous coaches. They're well coached. There's not much drop-off. I thought he would see more drop-off after they lost two draft choices on offense, and they're still leading the country in total offense. You have to give them a lot of credit. [Head coach] Mike [Gundy] has done a great job. Their players are as good as anybody in the country. They're that way each week.

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on the Oklahoma State offense:

Yeah, their numbers speak for itself. They're in the top 10 in virtually every offensive category imaginable. I don't know of anybody else in the country that could lose their starting quarterback and have a guy come in and set the record for total offense in school history. There's no great speech needed this week. They have our full attention.

The coaching offensively, from the head coach down to the position coaches, puts the players in a position to succeed, according to Diaz:

You have to give the coaches some credit, not just in the system that they use but the preparation that goes into it. I think it has to speak to the other 10 guys that are on the field. Their linemen do a good job. Their running backs I think are both good players, combined for over 200 yards against us last year. They open up the passing game and have a group of wide receivers and had a group of guys that made plays for their quarterback down the field. The quarterback is going to be the lightning rod of everybody's attention. There's a lot of guys around him at that school that are helping him to his success.

They said it... around SB Nation

~~ The problem, as presented by Scipio Texas:

The Cowboy coaching staff has already made their choice, but will nonetheless make Texas prepare for both QBs, and they're not oblivious to what we've all seen on film -- that this Longhorn defense is struggling with assignments and run fits, thrives on pressure and turnovers, and the added dimension of preparing for and executing against a QB running option may be sufficient to have a Jordan Hicks-less linebacking corps lose their wits along with their fits, such that even the traditional OSU rushing attack will find traction.

Scipio again on the worries of getting off to a slow start:

OSU has shown a real knack for fast starts (led Arizona 14-0, 49-0 and 44-0 at halftime against ULL and Savannah) and it's imperative that the Longhorns show up strong from the opening whistle.

It looks like Oklahoma State will have new uniforms for the Texas game, from Cowboys Ride For Free.

Dedfischer has had the SOTU for the Pokes for a number of years, offering this on the Oklahoma State defensive coordinator:

DC Bill Young is the bend-but-don't-break sensei of college football. The Cowboys gave up a boatload of yards last season, but led the country in turnover margin and generally limited conference opponents to the high 20s in points.

Robert Whitsell from CRFF breaks down what happened offensively against Arizona:

Oklahoma State scored 38 points on the road with over 600 yards of total offense while giving the ball away FOUR times, along with a school record in penalties and penalty yards, against a team that is definitely better than Ole Miss. I've said this so many times...this offense can lay an egg and still put 30+ on the scoreboard. That puts pressure on the opposing offense to keep up or keep the ball away.
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