Big 12 Spring Football Review: Oklahoma State

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

oklahoma-state-cowboys-replica-mini-helmet-3349343

Courtesy big12sports.com

2014 record:
7-6 overall, 4-5 in Big 12, defeated Washington 30-22 in Ticket City Cactus Bowl.
Returning starters:
8 on offense, 8 on defense.
Top players returning:
Sophomore QB Mason Rudolph, senior QB J.W. Walsh, junior RB Rennie Walsh, junior DE Emmanuel Ogbah, senior CB Kevin Peterson, senior WR Brandon Sheperd, sophomore WR James Washington, junior K Ben Grogan.
Key players to replace: RB Desmond Roland, RB/WR Tyreek Hill, DT James Castleman, P Kip Smith, QB Daxx Garman, LB Josh Furman, DT Ofa Hautau.
Spring review
The fortunes of a game, a season, of a program can turn on a single play. That was evident in last year’s Bedlam game.
Oklahoma State limped to Norman carrying a five-game losing streak and needing a victory over Oklahoma to become bowl eligible. Trailing by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys rallied to force overtime. The Sooners accepted a roughing the punter penalty that led to a game-tying TD return that led to an overtime victory that led to a bowl bid that turned into a victory.
A team that a year ago was finding its way with a roster dominated by freshmen and sophomores suddenly had a winning record and a springboard to the 2015 season.
“I said a year ago this time I was really concerned about the youth of our football team after spring,” coach Mike Gundy said. “There was a lot of guys who just didn’t know where to go or what was going on. I don’t feel that way right now. I feel the complete opposite. It’s just night and day.”
Injuries and the team’s struggles forced the coaching staff to burn the redshirt season for freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph. He threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns in his debut against Baylor and then led Cowboys to the victory over OU and the bowl victory over Washington.
With 16 starters returning, including a number of play makers on both sides of the ball, Oklahoma State could be a dark horse contender in the Big 12.
“I’m as excited now about our football team, as I’ve been since I’ve been here,” said Gundy, who is going into his 11th season as the Cowboys’ coach.

Quick slants
Oklahoma State has to replace its top two ground gainers from last season. Junior-college transfer Chris Carson will arrive this June and could wind up winning the starting job. However, junior Rennie Childs has experience in the offensive system while redshirt freshman Sione Palelei and first-year junior-college transfer Todd Mays provide plenty of options.
When Oklahoma State won the Big 12 championship in 2011, the defense led the nation by forcing 44 turnovers. The Cowboys forced 33 in 2013 but last season the number dropped to just 14. Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer has created a four-word phrase that has become the defense’s mantra: We’re Taking It Back. In the spring game, the defense got off to a good start, forcing four takeaways.
To help boost the running game, Oklahoma State’s offense has created the hybrid “Cowboy back” position, a combination of fullback and tight end. “We thought that over the last couple years by not having that position, that fullback and that tight end, that we struggled some running the football,” coach Mike Gundy said. “And we feel like that can help us.”

Coach Mike Gundy on …
The progress being made by sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph:
“He’s making some mistakes like most players do early in their career, but the development of Mason has been through (offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich). I mean, I’m not coaching quarterbacks. He’s done a really good job of developing him not only as a player, but his leadership role in helping him lead our football team.”
Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah’s continued development:
“His leadership, even though it’s not very vocal, has been really good for our defense and our football team.”
Running back Rennie Childs bidding to become the team’s top running back: “He’s accepted the challenge. He wasn’t as physical over his first few years here as he needed to be. We pushed him hard through the spring. He got hit more than what we would have wanted him to, but we felt like he needed to be in that role. He needed to get tired. He needed to get tackled. He needed to find a way to make some plays.”

2015 Schedule
Sept. 3 at C. Michigan
Sept. 12 Central Arkansas
Sept. 19 UTSA
Sept. 26 at Texas*
Oct. 3     Kansas State*
Oct. 10     at West Virginia*
Oct. 24     Kansas*
Oct. 31     at Texas Tech*
Nov. 7     TCU*
Nov. 14     at Iowa State*
Nov. 21     Baylor*
Nov. 28     Oklahoma*

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