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2013 Fierce-40 Previews: #32

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 15, 2013

2013 Fierce 40 Previews

 

#32 Oklahoma State Cowboys

 

2012 Recap:

Oklahoma State had an 8-5 season which for many teams is very successful, yet it was a dropoff for Oklahoma State. Many expected a slight fall but the poor performance of the defense caught many off guard.

Coaching:

Mike Gundy is a guy that seems to be rubbing a lot of people the wrong way both in and out of conference. His handling of the Wes Lunt transfer situation did not win him any new fans, but he has explained that he is not there to be in a popularity contest. Gundy is 67-35 in eight years so there are no arguing the results. This year is interesting though in that Oklahoma State has a new offensive and defensive coordinator.

 

Offense

Quarterbacks/Running Backs:

This was a carousel last season with Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh, and Clint Chelf all seeing significant time and all making starts for the Cowboys. From an efficiency standpoint Walsh was the most effective with 13 touchdowns to 5 interceptions and a rating of 170.1 while Clint Chelf started more games and threw for 15 touchdowns to 6 interceptions with an efficiency rating of 147.2. Despite this, Wes Lunt was seen as the best prospect and one of the prized quarterback recruits in the country, but he struggled a bit with 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions with an efficiency rating of 137.3. The rotation and the likelihood all three would see action in 2013 was too much for Lunt who attempted a few transfers that Gundy blocked. Lunt, after a public fiasco, is now at Illinois and Chelf is poised to start the season as #1 on the chart, even though everyone expects to see plenty of sophomore J.W. Walsh.

Joseph Randle and his 1,400 yards rushing have left for the NFL, leaving the experienced Jeremy Smith as the top running back in the stable. While nobody expects numbers like his predecessor rang up, Smith is well acclimated with the team and should perform admirably.

Best Draft Prospect: J.W. Walsh QB 6th Round 2016.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:

Tracy Moore is coming off of an injury and many scouts feel he may be the player with the best upside and outlook in a very deep and talented receiving corps. Numbers don’t do all the talking but how one can discount the 101 catches made by Josh Stewart after stepping in for the departed Justin Blackmon. Stewart did everything needed, showing the willingness to work the middle of the field, make the necessary blocks to spring a runner or fellow receiver, or make the big play and stretch a defense. The addition of Moore may take some catches away from the sure-handed Stewart but it will also show his true value to the football team. Moore will get some looks at the next level but it is Stewart who will go in the early to mid stages of the 2015 draft and will have teams buzzing.

Best Draft Prospect: Josh Stewart WR 3rd/4th Round 2015.

 

Offensive Line:

The world out of Cowboys land is that all is rosy and well with the offensive line, but I am not buying it. Parker Graham and Daniel Koening are a capable pair of tackles but even they do not wow me with their ability. The interior of the defense may be one where a frequent starting combo is never seen due to movement and pairings that will change. Lane Taylor was All Big-12 a season ago and he along with two other starters need replaced in 2013. We seem to be hearing more and more about JUCO transfer Brandon Garrett and he should be stepping into one of the guard positions or will be a backup at guard and tackle. Jake Jenkins will step into the starting position at center and right now seems to be the only legitimate pro prospect, although I have him rated as a 7th rounder for 2015 at best.

Best Draft Prospect: Jake Jenkins C 7th Round 2015.

 

Defense

Defensive Line:

The defense was horrible a season ago and ultimately it cost Bill Young his job, moving Glenn Spencer up from his role of linebackers coach as the new defensive coordinator. The Cowboys have to get pressure on the quarterback and try to help a secondary that ranked 110th against the pass a season ago. The good thing here for Oklahoma State is they have a pair of tackles that not only clog the middle and stop the run, but have the ability to get into the backfield and get after the quarterback. Calvin Barnett is currently a prospect that I have being selected in the 3rd round of the upcoming draft. The best part about having a player of Barnett’s stature is that he has another good junior prospect playing beside him in James Castleman. With a pair of studs at defensive tackle, teams are can't just double team one player and roll the dice with his counterpart. Tyler Johnson and Jimmy Bean are sophomores who are stepping into starting roles along the line. We will also see plenty of fellow sophomore Trace Clark who can be moved around to multiple positions. I haven’t seen enough from these players to get an accurate gauge on how they will handle their new assignments, although Johnson in limited time did register 4 sacks a season ago. From what I saw, most of his sacks seemed to come directly through the effort of others along the line creating huge gaps for him to exploit.

Best Draft Prospect: Calvin Barnett DT 3rd Round 2014.

                       

Linebackers:

One thing you can say about Oklahoma State and the defense is even though the production was not there a season ago and the defense overall is a question mark, the Cowboys do have leadership and experience in all areas. Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey are returning senior starters at linebacker. Lavey seems to be a fringe prospect who seems to communicate well with his teammates and will handle a lot of calls coming in from the sideline this season. Lewis has fantastic range and lateral movement, but has shown problems with tackling consistency and play recognition, especially when covering receivers out of the backfield or a tight end. Demarcus Sherod looks like he is being groomed to be “the guy” in the future at linebacker for Oklahoma State. He should ultimately step in for Lavey after this season but we will see him on the field at multiple positions in 2013. This is an average group that will not wow you with playmaking ability, but there is experience and a group that is capable of surpassing expectations with help from other areas on the field.

Best Draft Prospect: Caleb Levy LB 7th Round/UFA 2014.

 

Secondary:

Talk about a group that was a disappointment a season ago as I have already chronicled their 110th ranking nationally a season ago. Justin Gilbert is a player that many expected to forgo his senior season after having an outstanding 2011 campaign. Gilbert and the entire unit struggled and was a big reason why Oklahoma State often didn’t get the job done on defense. Gilbert will be taken on pure talent and potential alone, but he must ensure he improves after a disastrous 2012 season. This was not a case where he was avoided by teams and the other corners were exposed, as Gilbert gave up his fair share of big plays. Gilbert will be aided by his kick return ability and at 6’0” he isn’t a prospect small in stature. Gilbert may be avoided more as a senior as his counterpart will be Kevin Peterson who is stepping into a starting role. In fact the next 4 players on the depth chart at the corner position are all freshman and sophomores, so I expect youth will be tested by opponents. Daytawion Lowe is returning at free safety and he is the top returning tackler with 75 stops a season ago. I currently have Lowe rated as a 6th round prospect for 2014. With so much youth in the secondary this is a question mark, but the coaching staff seems to be excited with what they have in place.

Best Draft Prospect: Justin Gilbert CB 2nd/3rd Round 2014.

 

Special Teams:

I made reference above to Justin Gilbert and his kick return ability. This will most certainly enhance his draft status when teams are looking for a cornerback to bring aboard. Ben Grogan looks like he is going to be handling both kicking and punting duties and as a freshman we have nothing to base his upcoming performances against.

Best Draft Prospect: Justin Gilbert CB 2nd/3rd Round 2014 (Primary kick return man for Oklahoma State).

 

Schedule:

Oklahoma State looks like it will get off to a fast start, as all the way through October their toughest test seems to be a home game with Kansas State. November and December is a different story with 5 games that will be brutal (at Texas Tech,  Kansas, at Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma). Many pundits seem to feel this team has a great shot at winning the Big 12. They will at least match last years output of 8 games, but there are teams better equipped to take the league crown.

Draft Outlook:

Enough talent here this year with Gilbert and Barnett looking like they will be off the board within the first 3 rounds in 2014. Josh Stewart could get a big push for next year with another big season but he will need another monster season to entertain thoughts of leaving school early. This team, as always, has plenty of individual talent on offense and defense.

 

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