By John Luke McCord
The job Mike Gundy has done at Oklahoma State is statue-worthy at this point. This will be his 14th year in Stillwater, and there’s a long list of accomplishments you could list. There are two I want to focus on, however. First, the Pokes have won 10+ games in six season since the start of the 2010 season, and the fact that they’ve been in every CFB Playoff ranking update since 2015. That consistency is hard to find anywhere in college football, which is why Gundy lead the way in the Big 12 with an Hour Glass coaching stamp of 18.
But let’s look further at both the 2014 team and the 2012 team, the only two seasons the program hasn’t won 10+ games since 2010. In 2011 the Cowboys won the Big 12 and lost plenty of talent from that team, so that explains why the 2012 team won just eight games. The 2014 team that won seven games was very young, much like the 2018 roster. Could it be one of those off years for OSU?
Mason Rudolph started 41 games over the last three seasons that have seen the Cowboys win 10 games each. In 2018 Hawaii transfer Dru Brown will take the reins of Gundy’s offense.
Though he’s replacing an accomplished player in Rudolph, quarterbacking this offense isn’t a bad spot to be in for the transfer from the Islands. After all, Justice Hill, who lead the Big 12 in rushing by a significant margin last season, is back and ready to take home awards he came close to in 2017. He was a finalist for the Doak Walker award, and the Heisman and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year could be in front of him in 2018. Freshman Chub Hubbard, as well as returners JD King and LD brown, will all contribute this season, as well, according to comments Gundy made in the spring.
Though the OL and receiver spots lost big time players, expect both units to rebound nicely. Especially receiver where inside playmakers Jalen McCleskey and Dillon Stoner return, as well as budding star Tyron Johnson. But Johnson will need help on the outside, maybe its LC Greenwood that steps up to compliment him. Either way, Cornelius will have to develop chemistry with this unit as the season goes on.
Solid play defensively, under new DC Jim Knowles, will be critical as the offense gels. That goes two-fold for the defensive secondary and pass rush in the pass-happy Big 12. Up front, the Cowboys have the pass rush covered with Jordan Brailford, Cole Walterscheid and Jarrell Owens returning. Plus, there’s Darrion Daniels, Enoch Smith and Trey Carter. All in all, OSU should be good up front as long as they stay healthy, and there are health concerns or prior concerns with most of those names mentioned.
Between the hashes, there are questions to be answered at middle linebacker and safety. It appears JUCO transfer Patrick Macon could bring experience and skill at MLB, but at safety it’s Thabo Mwaniki and a bunch of guys who only have experience on special teams. On the edges of those spots, there’s experience. Calvin Bundage and Justin Phillips return to man either outside linebacker spots, while AJ Green and Rodarius Williams – both started every game at CB in 2017 – return to man the cornerback spots.
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