Everyone knows about the super duo in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden highlight a season that will always be remembered for Oklahoma State Cowboy fans.
Now a new season is upon us, with Weeden and Blackmon both returning to take another shot at not only beating rival Oklahoma, but at a Big XII Title, a BCS Bowl Berth, and quite possible a shot at a National Championship.
But it is not an easy road that the Cowboys have tot ravel to get to there ultimate goal. Here are three of the biggest questions on the minds of Cowboy nation:
Who is going to replace All-American running back Kendall Hunter?
Kendall Hunter has been the man on campus in Stillwater since his sophomore year. Even though a string of injuries cut short his junior campaign, Hunter managed to return the form for his senior season and become a true catalyst in a high octane Cowboy offense once again.
Replacing Hunter however is not an easy task. Luckily for head coach Mike Gundy he’s got two sophomores that look poised to explode.
Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle both split time as Hunter’s back up last season, Randle used more in the open field while Smith was used in short yardage situations, particularly around the goal-line. Both have shown they are capable of making plays out of the back field, and in an offense that relies heavily on the the pass, both have become quality receivers as well.
The question remains, who is going to get the starting nod? Randle was a little fumble happy during his freshman season, but that could be attributed to the fact that he kept looking to make a big play every chance he had the ball.
Smith however, has a year over Randle, after tearing his ACL early on in the 2009 season. Smith seemed to return to form last season and started to show some of his potential after finally have a full season of health under his belt.
We also can’t forget true freshman Herschel Sims, who was one of the top running back recruits coming out of Texas in this years recruiting class. Sims has break away speed and has reminded a lot of people of Hunter thanks to his shiftiness.
Either way, the Cowboys have three running backs that should make for a competitive battle for reps and a solid core for a team desperate for a running game to take pressure off Weeden and Blackmon.
Who else will run along side the likes of Justin Blackmon?
Another burning question is who will help take pressure of a Blackmon? Blackmon already has a target on his back thanks to a record breaking season and will be a defensive coordinators nightmare throughout the season.
But he can’t do it alone, and luckily he won’t have too. Seniors Hubert Anyiam and Josh Cooper, juniors Isaiah Anderson and Tracy Moore, and sophomore Michael Harrison all return to help relieve the added pressure put on Blackmon.
Weeden has plenty of talented receivers to target this season, which could make Blackmon even more dangerous. Eighty-One could get lost in the shuffle of guys Blackmon throws too and could open him up to having an even better season than before.
How will the Cowboy defense fair this season?
The Cowboy defense is once again in a “rebuilding” phase, after losing a majority of it’s starting lineman and linebackers from last season. Luckily, the Cowboy secondary is stronger than ever with senior safety’s Markelle Martin and Johnny Thomas leading the charge.
The Cowboys also return ESPY nominee’s junior cornerback Brodrick Brown and sophomore linebacker Shaun Lewis.
The real question is…who will lead the charge on the defensive line?
Seniors Richetti Jones and Jamie Blatnick fill the holes on the outside and junior Nigel Nicholas and redshirt freshman Christian Littlehead appear to be the current solutions for the inside. The question remains just how much depth do the Cowboys have?
Defensive coordinator Bill Young has his work cut out for him with a plethora of inexperienced players in his second and third unit. Luckily the talent level his there as the Cowboys keep recruiting more talented players each season.
Those are the three biggest questions about the Cowboys this season. Luckily for Cowboy fans, the answers will start to become apparent in a matter of days.