Following a season of soaring expectations, culminating in an underwhelming ending, there are no shortage of Cowboy fans anxious to see what the next “era” looks like for OSU football.
Spring Football is here, and it is time to ask ourselves what we need to see in order to ease our minds heading into the season. There are many other storylines to follow, but these are the top 3 issues that pique my interest, and are what I will be looking at closely throughout the spring.
1) Who will emerge as a leader?
The biggest non-quarterback issue to address for the 2018 Cowboys is the lack of seasoned leadership, at least from the perspective of an outsider looking in. The Pokes are not only losing some of the most productive players to ever wear the badge (or brand, or Pete variant), but they are losing some very established and accomplished leaders on and off the field.
Mason Rudolph and James Washington are the obvious ones, but what about Zach Crabtree? Or Tre Flowers? Ramon Richards, Chad Whitener, or even big DQ?
There’s been a definite exodus of experience that the program is going to feel. While this may seem like a trait that could be easily dismissed, let me direct your attention to the many, many games that Oklahoma State inexplicably won by a close margin with this group. The “Cardiac Cowboys” never quit, never let up, and always left it all on the field. Some of that is coaching, but a big part of that is guys on the field refusing to let their teammates give less then 100%.
2) Does anybody want to play defense this season?
It has been a hot minute since Oklahoma State has seen this big of a change on the defensive side of the ball. Not only is Glenn Spencer’s departure a change in personnel, it’s a shift in defensive philosophy. I know that the defensive “scheme” is quite vanilla for a spring game or even spring practice, but there are two very specific things that I will be keeping my eye on. I’ll look at the corners’ approach, and the alignment of the defense.
Under Glenn Spencer, Cowboy corners have been seemingly allergic to lining up within 7 yards of the receivers – especially on 3rd down (regardless of distance). As a fan, this drove me absolutely crazy! There have consistently been some incredible athletes in the OSu secondary (Tre Flowers just ran a 4.45 at the NFL Combine) so it begs the question as to why on earth did they not disrupt wide receiver rhythm whatsoever.
Flash-forward to 2018. Enter Jim Knowles, who was no stranger to press coverage while at Duke. My sanity would appreciate seeing some press and some overall aggressiveness during the spring practices and spring game. I like that he has experience running a 4-2-5 defense as that style should translate well in this conference. It will be interesting to see what he decides to roll out there to whet our appetites.
3) Are you ready for the Chuba Hubbard hubbub?
This isn’t a concern as much as it may be too much of a good thing, but what is OSU going to do with their embarrassment of riches at running back? Not only are they returning the best running back in the conference in Justice Hill, but also a couple of very capable backups in J.D. King and L.D. Brown. As for Hubbard, where will he fit into this offense? It seemed at times that Gundy was content to hand the ball off time-and-time again to Justice Hill and Co., but with King and Brown already established as talented and reliable backups, there likely will not be enough runs to go around.
Years ago, Mike Gundy had quite the game-changer for a year in Tyreek Hill, but he never really got the best from him. If Mike Gundy isn’t calling up Andy Reid for tips on how he has been able to maximize Tyreek Hill’s talents, I will be very disappointed.
What will you be looking for this spring? Leave your thoughts in the comments below ⬇️⬇️⬇️