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Just as 2018 is not 2014, so 2019 may not be 2015 for Oklahoma State football

While both were the new “down” type of season for the Cowboys, the follow up seasons provide equally different possibilities.


We’ve discussed ad nauseam the similarities and differences between this season and 2014, the last time OSU struggled to reach bowl eligibility.

While both seasons are considered down years, the trajectory of each couldn’t have been any more different.

For one, 2018 will go down in the history books as “What could have been.” I don’t think there is any question that the Taylor Cornelius-led Cowboys could have rolled the Daxx Garman squad (of course the KState/TCU results say the reverse is possible). The offensive talent alone rivals that of 2012, 2013, and 2015.

Both seasons featured coaches struggling to find the right fit for the talent (Tyreek Hill, Taylor Cornelius), and points in the season where both teams suddenly turned into something they hadn’t been earlier in the season (2014 post-Garman injury…2018 post bye week). Both seasons featured a moment when the HC got a bit surly about fan criticism, and fans were pretty confident the team wouldn’t reach bowl eligibility.

Both seasons hinged on big wins late that were either gifted (The Return), or somewhat gifted (Sills penalty on 4th down at midfield forces WV to punt instead of going for it).

But 2014 was doomed without the injury to Garman, and I don’t think that is an arguable fact. Taylor Cornelius is a vastly superior QB to Daxx, and I think you could also argue JW Walsh.......although JW Patton wouldn’t have allowed OSU to sleepwalk into Ft Worth......

So when the season concludes and we look back at both 2014 and 2018, my sentiment about how each looks in retrospect would be very different:

· 2014…an injury and a stupid coaching decision saved the season, but we had hope because we saw the future and it was really good, not to mention you had a seasoned veteran there to mentor the new guy;

· 2018…It took the coaches and the QB half the season to get on track with each other, and while it looked so much better (then we got TCU), OSU could easily be doomed to the same type of struggles next season because we have no idea what the future holds;

Phillip Slavin makes the point here that it’s not just about the offense...

No, winning a bowl game this season isn’t going to set up the momentum into next season like the Cactus Bowl win at the end of the 2014 season did. That team had a young quarterback named Mason Rudolph set to return the next season. This team will have a new starter under center in 2019.

That said, it’s another chance for the defense, still learning and adjusting to Jim Knowles scheme, to take another step forward. And considering how much progress they’ve already shown from game one to now, that could be huge for 2019. Throw in a young secondary that will all potentially return next season, and that has shown consistent growth all season long. Think that’s not something to get excited about heading into 2019?

We knew (or we thought we did) what was coming in 2015 because we saw Mason Rudolph for three games to end 2014. OSU would sprint to a 10-0 record and top ten ranking before dropping their final two games of the regular season and a bowl game amidst a Rudolph foot injury. While Phillip’s point about defense has merit, I think how 2015 ended and how 2018 has progressed provide the most compelling examples of why a program’s overall success in the Big 12 is predicated almost 100% on offensive productivity that is mostly dependent on QB skill and/or elite efficiency. The Big 12 overall is thick with examples of how QB play has either blessed or cursed literally every program.

As you peer into the future, do you see OSU running off 10 straight to start 2019? Kinda hard to get the emotional momentum going when we have NO idea what the QB situation will look like, and I think most of us can state with confidence that no matter how much the defense progresses it’s not likely to be a “shut down” unit any time soon. Either Dru Brown or Spencer Sanders will be leading the offense next season, neither of which has played a down for Oklahoma State, and only one that has taken snaps in a D1 game. Neither has ANY experience running OSU’s offense live. Let’s also throw this out there…

What if you have a change at offensive coordinator?

Yurcich is completing his sixth season at the helm, a LIFETIME for most D1 coordinators, and he is well regarded professionally. He was made the highest paid assistant in OSU history during last offseason, so obviously Gundy would like to keep him around. I know there are plenty of folks that want to see this change, which is fine, but change is change and that will mean time for adjustment.

The good part is the talent landscape surrounding the new signal caller is firm and fertile. The backfield is loaded despite JD King’s departure, exceptionally so if Justice Hill returns for his senior season (another “unknown”). The wide receiver and cowboy back rooms are rife with all-conference and Biletnikoff potential. The offensive line is getting deeper.

But the guy slinging the rock is a complete unknown. Preseason coach speak will tell us NOTHING. We will find out when everybody else does...when OSU starts playing actual games.

You’ve heard it many times, and it was referenced during the upset of West Virginia.

Most QB experts say it takes around 1500 live snaps before things start to truly slow down and become controllable for a new QB. Cornelius is working on 900-ish snaps right now AND HE’S BEEN IN THE SYSTEM FOR FIVE YEARS. Next year’s guy won’t even be in THAT boat. If it’s Brown, then he has the advantage of previous D1 experience, so he might come along more quickly, but we don’t know the level of his skill set and grasp of the offensive scheme. Sanders doesn’t have D1 snaps, and we also have no idea how his skill set will translate to D1 and OSU football (JW Walsh came out of Texas highly regarded and was an Elite 11 participant).

Neither has had a full year in the system and neither will have had meaningful snaps with the first team until the spring.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer. Either Brown or Sanders could come out strong and, if so, OSU could be a real juggernaut like 2015. I would argue, however, that it is much more likely the Cowboys will be in for another roller coaster struggle for bowl eligibility and conference relevance. I think a key will be one of the two separating themselves in the QB race in the spring, but that’s a topic for another post.

What I am saying is that, unlike 2015, we don’t have ANY idea and the landscape could shift dramatically in the offseason and throw this whole thing for even more of a loop.

Not that I’m in any rush for it, but spring ball should be FASCINATING. I’ll be jonesing for all the Bill Haisten and Robert Allen inside scoops.