Football is Here
Take a breath, take it in. In 6 days, the Cowboys will take the field at T. Boone Pickens Stadium against another team. We are now learning real, tangible things about this football team. More than just what type of haircut our head coach has.
Per Mark Cooper of the Tulsa World, this is the depth chart for the 2018 season.
#OKState’s depth chart for the season opener is out.— Mark Cooper (@mark_cooperjr) August 24, 2018
• Shane Richards is at right guard. Marcus Keyes OR Larry Williams at left guard
• Kemah Siverand is on the two-deep at CB
• Matt Hockett at punter
• LD Brown and Landon Wolf on kick returns pic.twitter.com/727oV2Bglx
Question Marks and Answers: The Offensive Line
When looking for satisfaction in the depth chart, look no further than the two-deep at LG and RG. Veteran Marcus Keyes, who started all 13 games as a sophomore, will be splitting time at LG with Larry Williams, the RS SR who was granted an extra year of eligibility this offseason after playing only 8 games in 2016 and 2017 combined.
This is a surprise to many, who expected to see Williams starting at RG opposite Keyes. But with RS SR Shane Richards listed as the starter at RG, it becomes clear that depth on the interior is not going to be an issue in 2018. Additionally, Shane Richards is going to be a player to watch—the RS SR is an odd case. After transferring from New Mexico Military Institute, the Canadian did not see much playing time, until receiving a redshirt in what was supposed to be his Senior year. After a full year of reps and fine tuning, Richards’ play will be worth a look.
Also worth note, three true freshmen appear along the depth chart at offensive line, including Tyrese Williams at Center, Hunter Woodard at RG, and Bryce Bray at RT. If there were any questions about the stability and depth in the trenches, those were answered today.
Quarterbacks, Open to Interpretation
The listed starter, as previously announced at Big 12 Media Days, is Taylor Cornelius. The breaded festival snack will be facing competition from Hawaii grad transfer Dru Brown and true freshman Spencer Sanders. Many were hopeful that Sanders would run away with the job, but unable to enroll early, Sanders has had limited time to learn the offense.
However, Sanders has an opportunity to play in up to four games this year, and still retain a redshirt due to an NCAA rule change this offseason. Gundy will have to look down the line and make a decision about Sanders’ redshirt, but if he isn’t showing up in the competition in the first few weeks, expect a late redshirt to be slapped on the freshman.
Cowboy Back... and Cowboy Back.
One of the most interesting parts of the depth chart was seeing CW listed twice. The H-back/fullback hybrid is listed on the depth chart as having two separate two-deeps; one in which Britton Abbott starts, another in which Logan Carter starts.
Many coaches don’t take the time to release details specific to personnel packages—seeing that Carter (6’4” 245) and Jelani Woods (6’7” 251) are listed opposite Abbott, it’s evident that Abbott will be used as a pass catcher, and Carter more in the running game.
Take some time in the Missouri State game to evaluate the play of all Cowboy Backs; people much smarter than myself have been creating correlations between spread football success and dominant, versatile players at the Tight-End, Slot and H-back positions.
The Proving Grounds
Outside of known entities AJ Green and Rodarius Williams on each corner, we have absolutely no idea what the secondary is going to look like, other than “young.”
Okay, so there is hope. Kenneth Edison-McGruder will be starting at one of the three safety positions, but he’s followed by two true Sophomores in Maclom Rodriguez and Thabo Mwaniki. Graduate transfer (and bonafide effort guy) Kemah Siverand will be backing up AJ Green, and should see some time as the secondary becomes fatigued down the stretch.
The secondary, and safeties specifically, are the biggest question mark on this team. That’s good, because there’s a lot to look forward to at receiver, running back, cowboy back, offensive line, and linebacker.
This is a deeper, more talented team than many people previously thought. In a year where many question the ability of any Big 12 team to dominate the conference, the two-deep provides relief to questions and anxiety regarding the level of experience of this team. Rudolph to Washington may be gone, but this is a team that can still compete for a Big 12 Title.