We’re starting a new weekly post for football season where your player analysis is important and the points aren’t.
Here’s the rules: Every week, each writer picks the player they think will be the MVP on offense, defense, and special teams for OSU and their opponent. If a player has the best game out of those chosen, the writer who picked him gets a point. We’ll keep track of the points through the season.
This week the Cowboys open up the season against the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions from the FCS.
O – Chris Carson | D – Vincent Taylor | ST – Barry Sanders Jr.
Offense: I have a feeling the running backs are going to get a lot of work in this game. For one; OSU should be up big, early. For two; Gundy is going to want to see his running game in a real competition. Since Carson is listed as the starter on the depth chart, I’m going to go with him.
Defense: SLU ran the ball often last year and I expect that to continue. They also fumbled the ball 31 times last year and lost 20 of them. I expect them to continue that trend as well. I’m going with Taylor to get multiple tackles and maybe even recover a fumble.
Special Teams: Sanders Jr. Is returning kickoffs and punts, so he should rack up some yards.
O – Julius Maraclin | D – Javon Tillman | S – Harrison Heim
Offense: Maraclin is the Lion’s top returning running back. He didn’t get the most carries last season but he did have the most yards and averaged 5.8 per carry.
Defense: Tillman didn’t play for SLU last year, he sat out after transferring from Sierra College where he led his conference in interceptions and racked up some decent defensive stats. SLU’s top defensive back graduated last year, so I’m going out on a limb and expecting Tillman to take his place.
Special Teams: I expect SLU to be punting a lot, so their punter (who had a really good freshman year) should rack up some yards.
O - Justice Hill | D - Jordan Sterns | ST - Ben Grogan
Offense: Rumor has it that OSU could be starting an unfamiliar face at running back. No, it's not Barry J. Sanders ... It's Justice Hill. Now, I could be totally off the rails here and if he doesn't actually start then I might as well wave the white flag this week. However, I'm expecting Hill to play quite a bit this season. In a group that just kinda lacks a spark, if he can bring it as a true frosh, get him on the field. I think he plays quite a bit on Saturday, and he might even start. If he does, and he's truly that much better than the rest of the backs, I expect him to have a 100+ yard game and a couple touchdowns.
Defense: I feel like you could have picked a number of guys on defense here, but I'll go with Jordan Sterns. SLU runs a triple option and Sterns will be heavily involved in what should be a downhill defensive attack. He'll have over ten tackles, and for that, I'll take him.
Special Teams: I'm taking Grogan here because I expect the offense to be a little rusty in the first game of the season. They'll do enough to get into field goal range, but I see the offense stalling a couple times. Queue, Ben Grogan.
O - QB D'Shaie Landor | D - Will Hines | ST - Jonathan Tatum
Offense: I'm going with Landor for obvious reasons. He's the quarterback and he touches the ball the most for this team. I'm a triple option offense, lots of touches can mean points. Landor was an easy pick for me.
Defense: This was quite difficult. Frankly, scouring the SLU roster for playmakers is a tough task in itself. I picked the most experienced player in the secondary for the Lions. He's sure to have a busy day back there, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him make a play or two.
Special Teams: I'm going with the kicker for what is another obvious reason. They won't score many touchdowns, at least I'd imagine not. But they may get close a couple times, and if they do, Tatum will be the guy they call on.
O – Justice Hill | D – Tre Flowers | ST – Jalen McCleskey
Offense: I’m expecting Oklahoma State to win and win big. If they get up early, I could see Justice Hill getting a fair share of carries, especially in the second half. I expect him to want to prove something after all of the preseason hype, and I think he’ll have a big day.
Defense: Once again, if the Cowboys get up on the scoreboard early, the Lions will be forced to throw to try and keep themselves in the game. I could see safety Tre Flowers having a big day in the secondary. Flowers was fourth on the team in total tackles last season with 83 and also had two interceptions.
Special Teams: Phillip chose the SLU punter to have a big day, and I hope he does. Because that will be a great sign for OSU and that will mean my pick, Jalen McCleskey, will have plenty of chances to tack on return yards and hopefully take one to the house.
O – D'Shaie Landor | D – Antreon (Tre) Bennett | ST – Jonathan Tatum
Offense: I don’t think that Southeastern is going to get much going on offense, but what they do get will come from senior quarterback D’Shaie Landor. Landor threw for 1,228 yards and 7 touchdowns last season, and also ran for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns. Even though Landor will be working with a very inexperienced group of wide receivers, I think he is the best bet in this fantasy draft for the Lion offense.
Defense: Antreon (Tre) Bennett is the only player on Southeastern’s defense to make the Southland All-Conference preseason team. The senior linebacker was fifth on the team in tackles last year with 45 and is the leading returning tackler for the Lions. If the Cowboys do what they’re supposed to and score easy and often; I could see them running the ball instead of running up the score. I think this will allow Bennett to rack up some tackles.
Special Teams: I can’t see the Lions scoring many touchdowns; however, I could definitely see them getting into field goal range on occasion. Tatum went 6-11 last year on field goals, but apparently he’s had some stiff competition in practice from Dillon Burkhard. If Burkhard is kicking the field goals in this game, I may have to cheat and switch my pick mid-game.
O - Chris Carson | D - Chad Whitener | ST - Ben Grogan
Offense: I expect Oklahoma State to build a lead that allows Rudolph and Washington to sit relatively early. Carson, on the other hand, could see snaps throughout the game for several reasons - Gundy isn't as concerned about an injury to a RB because we have 6,712 of them, we aren't really sure where on the depth chart Carson sits anyway, and this will be the first installment of the game show "Find RB1," so I expect the emphasis to be on the run game and let's not forget, Chris Carson in season-openers equals:
Defense: As far as the defense goes, defending the triple option will be interesting because OSU never sees it. The Lions averaged about 35 more yards rushing than passing last season and I don't expect that to change. While I expect our defensive line to dominate, I also expect them to rotate often. With the unfortunate news about Josh Mabin, our LB corps has even less depth than we thought. Whitener may end up on the field more than most first team guys and he'll have plenty of opportunities to rack up tackles.
Special Teams: I went with Grogan for my special teams pick mostly because it's not uncommon even against lesser opponents for the offense to have some hiccups early. I wasn't terribly impressed with the offense against UCA last season. I could see us stumbling in the red zone especially since Rudolph will be safely on the sidelines as early as humanely possible.
O - Julius Maracalin | D - Tre' Bennett | ST - Javon Tillman
Offense: The SLU offense could end up be pretty balanced. They tend to have several guys get touches (six players had 30 or more carries last season), but Maracalin is the best of the bunch. I generally like QBs in triple option offenses, but Maracalin almost doubled Landor's YPC last season. It seems like when SLU breaks a run, it's usually Maracalin.
Defense: Tre' Bennett should have all of the opportunities he could ask for on Saturday. I expect the Pokes to focus on the running game, especially as the game progresses. I also expect the attack to be relatively straight forward. That means the man in the middle for the Lions should see a lot of action.
Special Teams: Tillman should be involved in both aspects of the Lions return game. I expect SLU to get a lot of kickoff returns early and some punt returns late. He might not have great yards per return averages, but on potential volume alone, I like his chances to stand out.
O - James Washington | D - Jordan Sterns | ST - Ben Grogan
Offense: James Washington will start his campaign as one of best receivers in the nation against SELA. I bet he will have 6-8 catches for 120 yards and a couple 2 TD's.
Defense: Jordan Sterns is the leader of the OSU defense. He'll have 8-10 tackles in this game, he'll be playing downhill a lot I imagine.
Special Teams: Grogan will get some early work in on his extra points in this game, we'll see him quite a bit.
O - D'Shiae Landor | D - Tre' Bennett | ST - whoever their punter is
Offense: D'Shiae Landor is their returning QB. The senior is in his second year at the helm of the offense. I don't think the Lions will score very much but he could show some skill. He threw for 1200 and rushed for 200 last season. He'll probably throw for 150 yards on Saturday.
Defense: Tre' Bennett was their top performing LB last season, earning All-Conference honors. He had 45 tackles, 6.5 for loss. So he seems like a defensive player that has a nose for the call. He'll have 6 tackles on Saturday.
Special Teams: I could not find who SELA's starting punter is but I think he will get a lot of work on Saturday. If he can pin a couple inside the 20 I might get the point here.