With the departure of running back Joseph Randle to the NFL, the Oklahoma State Cowboys lose one of their best offensive weapons over the last three seasons. During his time in Stillwater, Randle did a little bit of everything for the potent Cowboys’ offense. Without him, Oklahoma State faces multiple needs it has to fill for 2013.
The most obvious is in the running game. Randle rushed for 3,085 yards in three seasons at Oklahoma State, scoring 40 touchdowns on the ground. Last season, he gained 1,417 yards on 274 carries, finding the endzone 14 times. He had eight games in 2012 where he broke the 100-yard mark rushing, highlighted by his 199-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Texas Longhorns.
Oklahoma State is planning to use a trio of backs on their roster to offset the loss of Randle’s rushing production. Senior Jeremy Smith, junior Desmond Roland and sophomore Caleb Muncrief combined for 729 yards last season on 130 carries and accounted for 12 touchdowns. Smith figures to step into the featured back role after acting as No. 2 in 2012, though the other runners figure to see plenty of carries.
The bigger issue facing the OSU backfield in 2013 is replacing Randle’s production in the passing game. In three seasons, Randle caught 108 passes for 917 yards, including 28 catches (good for No. 5 on the team) for 224 yards in 2012. Smith, Roland and Muncrief combined to catch a total of three passes last season, giving the coaching staff the distinct impression none of them are ready to fill that void.
For the Cowboys to be successful in 2013, they will need to work on getting one of Randle’s potential replacements up to speed catching passes out of the backfield or abandon an aspect of their offense that has brought them a great deal of success in recent years. It’s adapt or die in modern college football, so which road will Oklahoma State take in 2013?