Yes, we are all dangerously excited about football, and by the time OSU travels to Central Michigan, they will be world beaters.
It's what we do. We are fans.
Yet, while those totally illogical presumptions about future performance will get rationalized, possibly to our detriment, there are some legit reasons to believe that 2015 at least has the foundation of a potentially special season for the Cowboys...
Nowhere is depth and experience more evident than on this side of the ball. Two positions are legitimately three deep, and everyone else is two deep.
This is the first of the two position groups that are three deep. Of the seven players listed, 6 could see "effective" playing time, and four already have. The addition of Indiana graduate transfer Michael Hunter will only add to the depth and experience. This should definitely be a strength for the Cowboys in 2015.
|26||Newsome, Matthew||S||5-11||190||RS FR|
|11||Roberts, Tre||S||6-2||202||RS FR|
This group was the definition of "baptism by fire" in 2014, but should be much stronger in 2015. Five players saw significant playing time, and not a single player will be lost to graduation until AFTER 2016. That's a good thing.
Overall, the defensive backs as a group could have a couple of really good seasons on the horizon.
|50||Mabin, Josh||LB||6-2||235||RS FR|
|47||Ciszewski, Brian||LB||5-11||200||RS FR|
All I can say is wow. Everyone talks about the wide receivers, but this is secretly my favorite group on the team. OSU returns its starting middle LB, as well as 4 other players who have effective game experience. Kris Catlin's return from academic suspension should not be overlooked, and Devante Averette was vying for a starting spot until staff decided his injured knee should have a full season to heal. They were fairly solid overall in 2014, and should only be better in 2015.
|82||Walterscheid, Cole||DE||6-6||242||RS FR|
|99||Carter, Trey||DE||6-4||267||RS FR|
|94||Brailford, Jordan||DE||6-3||240||RS FR|
|93||Owens, Jarrell||DE||6-3||265||RS FR|
Another group that is arguably three deep and returns All Big 12 1st Team selection and Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Emmanuel Ogbah. Five players have effective game experience, and four redshirt freshman have the size to contribute now. Vili Leveni has the size to rotate at defensive tackle, if needed. This bunch is the key to a defense obviously designed to NOT allow mobile and pass-happy Big 12 QB's to roam freely.
|62||Ferguson, Tyler||DT||6-1||270||RS FR|
The loss of Calvin Barnett after 2013 was a concern. Ofa Hautau stepped in next to James Castleman and all was good.
Now that Castleman and Hautau have graduated, defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements seems to have simply reloaded, at least in the size department. The rub here is effective game experience, with only Vincent Taylor seeing more than a couple of games. As mentioned before, DE Vili Leveni could rotate in with this bunch. Depth shouldn't be an issue, but at least a couple of them need to step up to the void left in the middle. I'm not particularly concerned here because "In Joe Bob we trust."
Overall, the defense should have a chance to return to 2013 form, and Fox Sports Southwest agrees.
|59||Hockett, Matt||K||6-3||195||RS FR|
|29||Sinor, Zach||P||5-11||195||RS FR|
For me, this is the biggest question mark on the team, and has been since the departure of Quinn Sharp. Ben Grogan has turned into a serviceable kicker, but is coming off hip surgery that kept him out of spring drills. The only punter on the roster is Zach Sinor. Matt Hockett made a couple of FG's in the spring game in Grogan's absence, but this group feels a bit tenuous. Will Grogan's recovering hip handle kick off duties? This could turn out ok, but it could also be the Achilles Heel for the Cowboys.
Not to be forgotten, Arizona transfer Josh Elias had a banner season handling long snaps on punts in 2014, going the entire season without a blemish. This position should be in good hands for 2015 (see what I did there?).
This is not coming back...
Now that you've stopped weeping, here's the skinny...
I haven't listed any players here, because, frankly, there aren't any players on the team who I would point to and say "Hey, that guy should definitely be returning kick offs/punts." WR Brandon Sheperd has seen some spot duty on punts and kick offs, and WR David Glidden has handled some punts. WR James Washington returned the opening kick in the spring game. As Hill proved, this is a pretty damn critical position, and you better have someone back there who not only can field the ball successfully, but can make something happen.
I'll just leave this here. I REALLY DON'T WANT TO GO BACK TO THE DAYS OF CLOSING MY EYES EVERY TIME WE FIELD A PUNT.
|6||Brown, Keenen||WR||6-3||205||RS FR|
|82||Neph, Cole||WR||6-3||205||RS FR|
Plenty of catches coming back for a position group most feel is OSU's deepest and most experienced, maybe too much so. Good pass catchers want the ball. If it's getting spread around, the key will be the effort when the ball is NOT coming your way. We all know how Gundy is about work ethic, especially in practice, and Marcell Ateman suffered those consequences last season despite his obvious talent. Seales was supposed to be the next Justin Blackmon on the field, but unfortunately showed the same lapse in judgement off the field, which was pretty much responsible for his sophomore slump. Brandon Sheperd showed signs towards the end of the season of being that "go to" guy. David Glidden has turned into a reliable "Josh Cooper" clone. James Washington made a living snagging deep throws. Ateman, Chris Lacy, and RS Fr Keenen Brown all have the size and strength to dominate on the outside. Austin Hays has shown flashes of talent, but has had trouble staying healthy. CJ Curry came in with lots of excitement, but has yet to break into the regular rotation.
Getting the ball often will be tough enough with this group of hands. It will only get tougher because of the next group.
|85||Frazier, Jordan||TE||6-5||255||RS FR|
|41||Abbott, Britton||FB||6-3||235||RS FR|
With the addition of coach Jason McEndoo, this hybrid position is my dark horse for Most Valuable Position Group of the year in Stillwater.
HC Mike Gundy has made a pointed effort to redevelop this position, mainly to reinvigorate the running game. But he also wanted to maintain pace of play and not give up the ability to spread the field. Even before the late season emergence of Rudolph, Jeremy Seaton and Blake Jarwin proved to be almost uncoverable, regularly roaming wide open and making tough catches down the middle of the field. Jarwin's drop in Bedlam could have been costly, if not for that punt return, but it was a rare site. With Zac Veatch and Dawson Bassett both returning to a more natural position, we should see more double tight end formations from OSU, but that won't guarantee a running play.
Bottom line here, for me, is this...they may not catch a ton of balls, but the catches they make will be huge, and the difference they will make in the running game could be season changing.
|68||Noel, Deionte||OL||6-3||315||RS FR|
|66||Galea'i, Lemaefe||OL||6-5||325||RS FR|
|78||Mucha, Matthew||OL||6-6||285||RS FR|
Oh what a difference a year makes.
A group plagued by departures, most notably long time coach Joe Wickline, comes out of spring with optimism, and a fair amount of it. Gundy's hire of NFL OL coach Greg Adkins could go down as one of his best ever, and Adkins has already made an impression in the spring. Transfers Victor Salako and Brandon Pertile injected immediate depth, and three additional recruits will be present for fall camp. Five returning players have effective game experience, including Paul Lewis and Brad Lundblade, who split time at center. Keep your fingers crossed, as this bunch should be drastically improved from what we saw most of 2014.
|37||Brown, Mark||RB||5-10||185||RS FR|
|33||Palelei, Sione||RB||5-10||210||RS FR|
While there is talent present, and more coming for the fall, this group's production will hinge largely on the offensive line and cowboy backs.
That being said, we didn't see much from this group in the spring. Caleb Muncrief, a RB who converted to WR, was back in the saddle during the spring game. I don't know if that was because of injuries or lack of talent, but I fully expected to see some other names. Transfer Todd Mays is nursing a sprained knee (can't believe Gundy talked so openly about an injury!!), and I don't recall Palelei's name being called. Kansas State transfer Raymond Taylor got some mentions, but all eyes were on Rennie Childs after the departure of workhouse Desmond Roland. My concern here is that Childs strikes me more as the change of pace back, much like Jeremy Smith was. Unfortunately, also like Smith, I don't think Childs is cut out to be that every down "thumper." For that, we will be waiting for the arrival of JUCO transfer (and recruiting steal of the year) Chris Carson to fall camp. A lot is riding on him stepping into a fairly large role in the backfield, and if he doesn't then this position group will be a pretty big concern. Late signee Jeff Carr out of Temple, TX could also figure in the mix, but is designed more like Tyreek Hill (unfortunately not nearly as fast). Todd Mays had received some chatter early in spring drills, so fall camp should be rather huge for this group.
|14||Cornelius, Taylor||QB||6-6||190||RS FR|
No position group garners more attention than the QB's, and Mason Rudolph has insured that won't be changing anytime soon.
But I'm not going to talk about Rudolph. We already know about him. We've seen it, or at least we hope we have. The roster says 220, but it's been confirmed that he's closer to 240. We already know about JW Patton (Walsh, for those of you not paying attention), and that he will likely see the field in special situations. No, I think the most important player on this list is John Kolar.
NewsOK's Kyle Frederickson mentioned this in some spring game follow up, and I agree 100%. It felt really good to see Kolar handle the stage with composure. It was only a spring game, but he didn't look rattled, moved well avoiding the rush and on designed runs, and made some good throws.
Keep in mind that in two of the three years since the departure of Saint Weeden, OSU has needed three QB's to get through the season. Enough said.
Let's hope he redshirts, Walsh only sees the field for his special plays, and Rudolph is not a mirage...
Overall, the offense should be improved, if only because of Rudolph and the offensive line, and that would be good news.
That's it for football, or at least we hope it is. While we may lament the lack of football news over the next few months, just remember football news can involve passing out in the Whataburger Drive Thru, so maybe no news is what we want?