• OverThePylon

    OTP covers Ball State University sports from the blog perspective in the most overzealous manner possible, proving that as long as there is someone with enough free time you can obsess over anything.
  • Connect to OTP

  • OTP Messageboard

  • OTPcast on Itunes

  • OTPcast on Stitcher

  • Help the Pylon

  • Donate to OTP

    A donation to OTP helps keep the site afloat and Cards fans connected. 50% of all donations sent to Cardinal Varsity Club as well. Help the Cards and your favorite blog in one fell swoop!

  • Join Our Network

Prelude to a Season: #9

9.) Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma StateWhat You Need to Know
It’s hard work for the Oklahoma State Cowboys overcoming the national attention paid to divisional conference foes Texas and Oklahoma. National pundits, preseason polls, magazines of note, along with countless blogs and sports sites essentially have chosen Texas and Oklahoma as the potential challengers of Florida for a national title, forgetting all about this impressive team in Stillwater. While the Sooners and Longhorns continue to jockey for supremacy in what many believe to be a two team race, Oklahoma State is quietly and impressively demanding attention.

Last season, Oklahoma State used their potent high octane offense to become one of the nation’s most balanced attacks. The hamstring for the Cowboys was a defense that simply couldn’t compete with similar high powered attacks. Two of their final three games, against Texas Tech and Oklahoma, the Cowboys allowed 117 points. For the season as a whole, the OSU defense allowed 28.1 points per game and just a shade over 400 yards per game. Hardly the stalwart defensive unit that is needed to compete for the conference crown, a BCS berth, and a shot at a national title.

This season, head coach Mike Gundy will look for not only a much improved defensive effort, but also continuation of success by one of the most balanced and dominating offensive units in the country. They return 7 starters, among them their leading QB, RB, WR, and 3 of 5 offensive linemen. Senior QB Zac Robinson is among the best in the nation, despite the fact that many in the Big 12 point to Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford as “prototypical” quarterbacks. Robinson will rely on fellow skill players, both juniors, WR Dez Bryant and RB Kendall Hunter, to continue proving he belongs in those top tier quarterback conversations. Hunter and his 1500+ yard season and Bryant with 19 TDs last season make this skill trio the most talented in the country. The biggest loss for this offensive unit is TE Brandon Pettigrew, an NFL Draft selection whose presence and impact will be felt. Filling his shoes will be sophomore Wilson Youman. On the line, the Cowboys lose C David Washington and RG Steve Denning but return LT Russell Okung, a first team All Big 12 selection and the anchor of an offensive line with the task of protecting Robinson and opening up holes for Hunter. If they’re successful at that, then Robinson will become the school’s all-time leading passer by season’s end as he sits only 1700 yards behind his coach for the top passer honor.

Defensively the Cowboys return six starters from a unit that will largely be responsible for slowing down the opponents on the schedule long enough for the OSU offense to explode. 10 of the 12 leading tacklers from last season all return, but the defensive secondary may very well be the queston mark for this unit. Having lost 3 of 4 starters, including both safeties Ricky Price and Quenton Moore as well as 2nd Team All Big 12 corner Jacob Lacey, OSU finds itself breaking in new personnel in a conference and against opponents that are pass heavy and will exploit any weaknesses in this particular area. When it comes to the run game, the Cowboys also lose 2 of 4 starters on the defensive line, needing to replace Tonga Tea, but having numerous subs with game experience. The linebacking crew for the Cowboys returns in tact, led by senior Andre Sexton, a converted safety. For Oklahoma State, the losses are noticeable but nothing that isn’t able to be overcome. They must force pressure up front and create pocket pressure for opposing passers, as this unit only sacked the opposition 15 times in 08… a stat which must improve for the Cowboys to have a shot at Big 12 South supremacy.

Helping to make that defensive unit stand out is new Defensive Coordinator Bill Young, the most recent addition to Mike Gundy’s staff. Gundy has proven himself to be an exceptionally talented coach, and much better than his 27-23 record at OSU indicates. Each year in Stillwater has gotten better than the year prior, and should Gundy have a successful 2009, it will be his first double-digit win season ever, and the first for OSU since 1988.

Helping Gundy achieve that goal is a schedule that is daunting and challenging but certainly not impossible. Two of their three most challenging games are at home when Georgia and Texas comes to Stillwater, and their season finale against Oklahoma in Norman may very well be the difference between Cinderella and status quo for OSU.

Who You Need to Know & Their 08 Stats
QB Zac Robinson: 204-314, 3064 yds, 25 TDs, 10 INTs, 146 att, 562 yds, 8 TDs
RB Kendall Hunter: 241 att, 1555 yds, 16 TDs
WR Dez Bryant: 87 rec, 1480 yds, 19 TDs

Game to Watch
The season opener against Georgia on September 5th will either set the Cowboys up with additional momentum and the national spotlight or give the critics ample fuel to say Oklahoma State is far from ready for the big stage. A win against the Bulldogs sets OSU up for a run through the Big 12 and the possibility of an undefeated season. Standing in their way are their two higher ranked divisional foes: Texas (10/31) and @ Oklahoma (11/28).

They’ll Do Well If…
… the defense improves even remotely from last season, especially against their marquee opponents. Last season saw them put up an impressive effort against Texas but implode against Oklahoma. Any game the defense doesn’t excel, it puts added pressure on the offense to simply outscore the opposition, a hard pressed task against OU and UT.

Season Outlook
Oklahoma State enters this season with increased expectations for them, but expectations that pale in comparison to their conference brethren. It’s difficult for a Top 10 ranked team to be considered under the radar, but that is the precise position that Oklahoma State finds themselves. Should the Cowboys land a season-opening defeat of the Georgia Bulldogs in a game that could go either way, OSU will cruise until their showdowns with Texas and Oklahoma, where a 1-1 record may set them up for relying on their standings within the BCS for a berth in the Big 12 title game should UT and OU each have one loss as well. Regardless of where the computers rank them, 11-1 is an incredible year and one Gundy and the rest of the Cowboys should, and will, be proud of.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: