The Oklahoma State Cowboys football program has seen a rise to national recognition under head coach Mike Gundy. Throughout their history, the Cowboys have struggled, but since the hiring of Gundy in 2005, the team has gone to bowl games in all but one of the seasons. They have won four of those bowl games and posted back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2011 and 2012.
Mike Gundy has done a great job of grooming quarterbacks to be fit in his high-powered, pass-happy offense in Stillwater. The Cowboys are your prototypical Big 12 offense, scoring touchdown after touchdown and always seeming to find themselves in a shootout.
With all the funding the Cowboys receive from boosters like T. Boone Pickens going to new facilities and the team starting to build a national reputation, it will be interesting to see if Gundy can improve off their 8-5 season and bowl victory last season and keep the Cowboys in contention for Big 12 titles.
Key Players: Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh, Josh Stewart, Calvin Barnett and Justin Gilbert.
The one thing everyone thinks of when Oklahoma State Cowboy football is mentioned, it’s the offense. Throughout Gundy’s time in Stillwater, the team has been one of the staple programs for the Air Raid offense and have consistently been one of the top teams nationally in offense.
Last season was no different as the Cowboy’s had a top-five offense nationally. In scoring offense, the Cowboys finished third in the country, scoring 45.7 points per game. They finished fourth in the country in total offense, posting an insane 547 yards per game on the year.
The Cowboys did something last year that hasn’t been done by any team in college football. They had three separate quarterbacks playing through the year and all three threw for over 1,000 yards on the season. Wes Lunt has transferred to Illinois, but senior Clint Chelf and sophomore J.W. Walsh both return and are still battling in camp. It is very possible Gundy runs a two-quarterback system in 2013.
Leading rusher Joseph Randle has moved on, so Jeremy Smith will take over the running back duties. The Cowboys do return their top-three receivers from last season including junior Josh Stewart, who had 1,210 yards receiving and seven touchdowns last season.
While the offense for the Cowboys is one of the best in the country, the defense needs serious improvement. In all five of the Cowboy’s losses last season, the opponent scored 40-plus points. This cannot happen for a team that wants to be national contender, it puts too much pressure on the offense to score at all times.
The Cowboys were right in the middle of the pack for the Big 12 in terms of defense. In scoring defense, they finished fifth in the conference, allowing 28.2 points per game. In total offense, the Cowboys were sixth in the conference after giving up 421.7 yards per game.
The good news for the Cowboys is that they return seven starters on defense, including first team All-Big 12 defensive tackle Calvin Barnett. He should be the leader of the defensive line and one of the most dominant lineman in the Big 12.
Senior Caleb Lavey will be the leader of the linebacker group and was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2012. In the secondary, three starters return with safeties Daytawoin Lowe and Shamiel Gary, as well as corner and return man Justin Gilbert.
With a host of returning starters on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys will have a lot of helpful experience going into the 2013 football season.
This experience will be needed because the Cowboys have a very tough schedule ahead of them. They start the season off with the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Stillwater.
The one thing you can count on from the Cowboys this season is a high-powered, top-10 nationally ranked offense. The team will be very competitive in 2013 and will definitely be a contender for a Big 12 title.