Preview 2017: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Preview 2017: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Big 12

Preview 2017: Oklahoma State Cowboys


Preview 2017: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Previewing and looking ahead at the Oklahoma State Cowboys season – and what you need to know.

Contact @PeteFiutak

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2017 Oklahoma State Preview: He’s A Man, He’ll Be 50
2017 Oklahoma State Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Oklahoma State Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Oklahoma State Offense

Look … out.

The Cowboys cranked up the passing game – finishing averaging 324 yards per game through the air and 494 overall – and now the air show should be something truly special with QB Mason Rudolph and WR James Washington returning.

Those two should be in the NFL at the moment, but instead they should form an unstoppable duo – hooking up 71 times for 1,380 yards and ten scores, averaging 19.4 yards per connection – while Jalen McCleskey returns as the team’s leading receiver. And there are more options for Rudolph to play with, too.

The ground game won’t just be along for the ride, with Justice Hill coming off a 1,142-yard, six score freshman season. Once he’s in one piece – he was out this spring recovering from a shoulder problem – he’ll work behind a solid line with almost all the starters who began last season returning.

Biggest Key To The Oklahoma State Offense

Make sure the passing game sticks one in the end zone. The Cowboys lost to Central Michigan despite three touchdown passes, but they went 10-0 in the other games when they came up with a scoring throw. In the loss to Baylor, they were shut down, and the passing game was shutout by Oklahoma. Those were the only two games they didn’t throw a touchdown pass. Over the last there season, OSU is 0-5 when not coming up with a scoring throw.

What You Need To Know About The Oklahoma State Defense

It wasn’t always pretty, but the defense managed to do just enough in key situations against everyone but Central Michigan to survive.

The Cowboys allowed 446 yards per game, and while all Big 12 teams have problems in conference play, just about everyone buy Colorado, TCU and SE Louisiana lit them up.

What’s the last thing a team needs that struggled against the pass? A rocky cornerback situation. Several options will be thrown at the problem, but it should be the team’s weak spot for a while. On the flip side, with corner Ramon Richards moving positions, the safeties should be okay.

Chad Whitener leads a linebacking corps that should be active against the run, but probably won’t do too much behind the line. That’s for the defensive front, with a good group of ends that have to shine around the new starting defensive tackles.

Biggest Key To The Oklahoma State Defense

Just get off the field. The defense isn’t going to be a rock. There should be a few good moments when everything clicks – it happened a few times last season – but Oklahoma State is used to being involved in firefights. As long as the defense holds serve once in a while, it’ll be doing its job.

Central Michigan and Baylor each converted 50% or more of their third down chances, Oklahoma coveted 46% of its tries, and Texas Tech almost pulled out a win in a 45-44 loss, converting 47% of its chances.

Oklahoma State Will Be Far Better If …

The running game keeps on rumbling. Oklahoma State’s always great at bombing away, but running wild isn’t always a given in the high-octane offense. The Cowboys failed to run for 2,000 yards as a team in 2014 or 2015, and worse yet, it struggled to get over four yards per carry. Last year, the offense averaged 4.5 yards per shot, coming up with 2,221 yards.

Running well didn’t guarantee success – OSU ran for over 200 yards in both the Baylor and Oklahoma losses – but it certainly helped.

Best Oklahoma State Offensive Player

QB Mason Rudolph, Sr. – Yeah, USC’s Sam Darnold is everyone’s No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and Wyoming’s Josh Allen is probably No. 2 – at least in the quarterback pecking order. Rudolph might still be a top ten overall pick, if he’s not a better prospect than Allen.

The 6-5, 230-pounder has the size, to go along with just enough mobility to survive and good plays around the goal line, running for six scores last year. But it’s his arm that’ll make him the coin, hitting 63% of his passes in 2016 for 4,091 yards and 28 scores with just four picks. As the next-level types like to say, you can’t teach accuracy, and he’s got it.

2. WR James Washington, Sr.
3. RB Justice Hill, Soph.
4. OT Zach Crabtree, Sr.
5. OG Marcus Keyes, Soph.

Best Oklahoma State Defensive Player

LB Chad Whitener, Sr. – The very smart, very productive main man for the linebacking corps, he’s built for the position at a stocky 240 pounds on his 6-0 frame – the guy’s a pure run stopper. While his production dipped a bit after a 93-tackle 2015 season, he was still an All-Big 12 performer with 71 stops and 7.5 tackles for loss. Also, he became more of a factor in pass coverage. No, he’s not going to be a major factor behind the line, but he’s a tough guy in the middle.

2. S Tre Flowers, Sr.
3. P Zach Sinor, Jr.
4. LB Justin Phillips, Jr.
5. DT Tralund Webber, Sr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

CB Adrian Baker, Sr. – Throw him onto the cornerback pile. You can’t win in the Big 12 if you don’t have a secondary that can offset all the yards with a few big plays and stops here and there.

With Ramon Richards moving from corner to free safety – taking over for Lenzy Pipkins – the corner situation is a massive concern. Darius Curry should take on a bigger role, but the pressure will be on Baker – a transfer from Clemson – to get past his knee injury issues and become an instant factor.

The Oklahoma State Season Will Be A Success If …

The Cowboys at least get to the Big 12 Championship Game. Oklahoma is probably going to be better – at least that’s how it looks going into the season – and TCU, Kansas State and West Virginia will all be dangerous in an improved Big 12. But at the very least, OSU should have the second-best team in the conference. Get to Arlington and then figure it all out.

Key Game To The Oklahoma State Season

Nov. 4 vs. Oklahoma – The rivalry game was moved up a few weeks, just in case the two meet again in the new version of the Big 12 Championship Game. The Cowboys don’t have to win this to win the Big 12 title, but with the game in Stillwater, and the road dates at Texas and West Virginia to deal with, losing could be a problem.

On the plus side, win this, and with a trip to Iowa State to follow, and the Kansas State and Kansas games at home, it could be a great November.

2016 Oklahoma State Fun Stats

– Interceptions Thrown: Opponents 14 – Oklahoma State 4
– Punt Return Average: Oklahoma State 10.9 yards – Opponents 0.9 yards
– Red Zone Scores: Oklahoma State 61-of-69 (88%) – Opponents 36-048 (75%)

2017 Oklahoma State Preview: He’s A Man, He’ll Be 50
2017 Oklahoma State Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Oklahoma State Previews: 2016 | 2015


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