Why the Cowboys Will Reload, Not Rebuild in 2014…Seriously

Sam Wren and Caleb Lavey bring down Kansas State's QB Daniel Sams - Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

After losing plenty of players on both sides of the ball, a lot of people think that the Cowboys are bound for a rebuilding year similar to the one we saw in 2012. But what if the Pokes have what it takes to string together a Big 12 Championship run?

We’ve all heard the stories on how Oklahoma State football is bound for a 7 to 8 win season, but I’m here to convince you that the 2014 Cowboys are capable of much, much more. I’m going to go through each position group and analyze who’s gone, who’s taking their place, and why they will get the job done.


The Offense

Quarterback

Who is gone: Clint Chelf

Who we have: J.W. Walsh, Daxx Garman, and Mason Rudolph.

This is arguably (it is) the most important position that the Cowboys have to fill this year. Clint Chelf was the starter coming into 2013, but he was benched 7 plays into the opener against Mississippi State. That’s where J.W. Walsh took the reins. Walsh led the team until the TCU game, when the quarterback carousel turned again, and Chelf was back on top. Chelf would go on to lead the team to five straight wins and a chance to win the Big 12 title for the 2nd time in school history. Chelf wasn’t a great quarterback, but he was pretty good. Good enough to leave high expectations in the minds of Cowboy fans.

J.W. Walsh has seen inconsistent action as quarterback. He’s been everywhere on the depth chart and now he has his chance to sit at the top. Personally, I don’t believe that Walsh is the right answer at quarterback, but I’m wrong occasionally, so hopefully I will be on this as well. Walsh isn’t the type of guy to go out there and make you drool with his throwing ability, but he may have what it takes to make plays and get the offense going. He is great on his feet and takes on the leadership role when he steps on the field. If Gundicich (new word for whoever is calling plays) can trust him and expand their play calling, Walsh has the potential to take this team far and successfully fill the shoes of Clint Chelf. If Walsh is to stutter, expect Daxx Garman to be next in line. We haven’t seen much of Garman, but Mike Gundy and Brandon Weeden have praised him. I’d also expect Mason Rudolph to use his redshirt, so don’t count on him seeing any time on the field.

Rebuild or Reload?

Reload

Running Back

Who is gone: Jeremy Smith

Who we have: Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs

Unfortunately, the last season of Jeremy Smith’s career was disappointing. He began the year as starter, but he was unable to find the holes and gain consistent yardage. As for his replacement, Desmond Roland, the future is looking bright. Shortly after Roland’s breakout performance against Iowa State, Roland established himself as the starter and went on to become Oklahoma State’s lead rusher in 2013. Roland averaged 2.3 touchdowns in the 7 games he started. Expect no change in pace here.

As far as Rennie Childs, you can expect him to be put in to provide a change of pace in the running game. Childs is your speed RB and Roland is your power runner.

Rebuild or Reload?

Reload

Wide Receiver

Who is gone: Tracy Moore, Charlie Moore, and Josh Stewart

Who we have: Jhajuan Seales, Marcell Ateman, Ra’shaad Samples, Blake Webb, Austin Hays, and Tyreek Hill.

The Cowboys lost all of their starting receivers last season, but we have been left with perhaps the most stacked receiving core in the Big 12. In my opinion, Jhajuan Seales is the next great receiver at Oklahoma State. He fits the mold of Blackmon or Bryant, and has the talent to produce the same results. Look for him to be your star receiver. Ateman, Webb, Hays, and Samples are probably the best supporting cast you could ask for. Last, but not least, we have the player that everyone is looking forward to: Tyreek Hill. Hill is a JUCO transfer out of Garden City, KS and is apparently the fastest player on the Cowboys roster, so you can expect the coaches to utilize him all over the offense. Just picture Daxx Garman throwing deep balls and hitting Hill in stride. Dream baby, dream.

Rebuild or Reload?

Reload


Fullback

Who is gone: Kye Staley

Who we have: Jeremy Seaton

Ever since the Cowboys started using the diamond formation, the position of fullback has become more important. The fullback is mainly used as a blocker, but as Jeremy Seaton proved with the touchdowns he scored last year, fullbacks are capable of more. Seaton is returning and should be building on the progress he made in 2013.

Rebuild or Reload?

Reload


Offensive Line

Who is gone: Parker Graham and Brandon Webb

Who we have: Paul Lewis, Brandon Garrett, Michael Wilson, and Chris Grisbhy.

This is the part of our offense that has the biggest question mark. We have both tackles and our center returning, but the guards are gone. If Wickline were returning, this would be an automatic reload because of the job he does of coaching his players to play all positions on the O-Line. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Wickline has gone to Texas and has been replaced by Bob Connelly. Because this is Connelly’s first year, we have yet to see what his coaching style is. I can’t really predict who will start at left and right guard, but I can expect that they will do a sufficient job.

Rebuild or Reload?

A little bit of both.


The Defense

Safety

Who is gone: Daytawion Lowe, Shamiel Gary, and Zack Craig

Who we have: Tre Flowers, Jordan Sterns, and Larry Stephens

This is rough, isn’t it? I’d expect Tre Flowers and Larry Stephens to be the starting safeties this year. It really stinks that we lost our three best safeties all at the same time. Anyway, let’s just hope they can get the job done.

Rebuild or Reload?

Rebuild

Cornerback

Who is gone: Justin Gilbert

Who we have: Kevin Peterson, Ashton Lampkin, and Miketavius Jones

Possible the saddest loss our defense took was the loss of resident speedster, Justin Gilbert. But don’t fret, there is hope! Kevin Peterson is now the star at cornerback. Peterson was really underrated in 2013 and didn’t get much attention because the ball was rarely thrown his way. That right there is the oversight most people have. When the quarterback is avoiding throwing in the direction of a specific cornerback, that means the corner is doing his job. Kevin Peterson is a starter on one side, expect Jones or Lampkin on the other.

Rebuild or Reload?

A little bit of both.

Linebacker

Who is gone: Caleb Lavey, Shaun Lewis, and Joe Mitchell.

Who we have: Ryan Simmons, Seth Jacobs, Demarcus Sherod, and Dawson Bassett.

This one stings as well. The leadership of 2013’s defense is gone, along with their best player, Shaun Lewis. Lavey, Lewis, and Mitchell combined for roughly 212 tackles in 2013. Replacing them will be no easy task. This year, you can expect Ryan Simmons to start, but the other two spots are up for grabs.

Rebuild or Reload?

Rebuild

Defensive Line

Who is gone: Calvin Barnett, Davidell Collins, Anthony Rogers, and Tyler Johnson.

Who we have: Jimmy Bean, Sam Wren, Emmanuel Ogbah, James Castleman, Ofa Hautau, and Trace Clark.

The biggest loss here is Calvin Barnett. Other than him, the defensive line doesn’t take TOO much of a beating. Although Barnett and Johnson are gone, we still have Jimmy Bean and James Castleman returning. Those guys are your guaranteed starters and you can expect Hautau and Wren to take the other spots.

Rebuild or Reload?

A little bit of both.

Special Teams

Kicker

Who is gone: Nobody

Who we have: Ben Grogan and Kip Smith

Unless something crazy happens, Grogan is our guy in 2014. He struggled tremendously in 2013, but I’m going to blame that on him being a freshman. I believe that Grogan will bounce back this year and deliver kicking equal to what we saw with Quinn Sharp and Dan Bailey (If you think I’m crazy, watch some of his highlights from high school. He can blast it). You can also expect Kip smith to cover kickoff duties again.

Rebuild or Reload?

Reload

Punter

Who is gone: Michael Richenstein

Who we have: Kip Smith

Richenstein was a backup, so we still have Kip Smith taking over the starting role. Smith struggled controlling his punts at times last season, but not too many of them negatively affected the game’s outcome. Hopefully he made the necessary improvements in the offseason.

Rebuild or Reload?

Reload

Kickoff Return

Who is gone: Justin Gilbert

Who we have: Tyreek Hill

Call it blasphemy, call it crazy, but I’m predicting that Tyreek Hill will carry on the legacy that Justin Gilbert set at kick returner and will do a better job of it.

Rebuild or Reload?

Reload

Punt Return

Who is gone: Charlie Moore

Who we have: David Glidden and Tyreek Hill

Glidden fielded plenty of punts for the Cowboys in 2013. Glidden is the most nerve-racking punt returner I have ever seen, but most of the time he gets the job done and secures the ball. Tyreek Hill could play back here, but I doubt he will because of the injury risks involved.

Rebuild or Reload?

Reload

That wraps it up folks. It’s beginning to look like the Pokes might actually have some hope in 2014. Offensively, don’t expect this team to slow down. Defensively, if Glenn Spencer can hold this defense together, Oklahoma State just might be able to string together another run at the Big 12 championship.

GO POKES!!!

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