Oklahoma State football: Shades of 2010 Longhorns?
An OSU football fan sent me an email the other day, a little worried. He found a few too many similarities between the 2010 Texas Longhorns and what he expects from his 2012 Cowboys.
* Both coming off 12-1 seasons in which Alabama won the national title at their expense — Texas by losing to Bama in the Big Bowl, OSU by getting nosed out by Bama in the final BCS rankings.
* Both trying to replace iconic quarterbacks — Texas’ Colt McCoy, OSU’s Brandon Weeden.
* Both apparently a little thin at receiver; Texas had few playmakers in 2010, OSU is facing a major shortage at the position that has been such a strength.
* Both apparently sporting a solid defense; Texas actually was good defensively in 2010, OSU appears poised to field a defense better than the high-yardage, high-takeaway unit that it fielded in 2011.
The fear is that OSU 2012 could have the same kind of season as Texas 2010. Those Longhorns never got out of quicksand. They went 5-7, losing at home to UCLA, Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Those Longhorns didn’t play a nine-game conference schedule, so they had three virtual-automatic victories — Rice, Wyoming and Florida Atlantic. These Cowboys have just two such games (Louisiana-Lafayette, Savannah State).
I think those similarities are valid, but here’s why I think OSU avoids such a crashing season: offensive identity. The 2010 Longhorns didn’t really know what to do with new quarterback Garrett Gilbert. He was more a classic dropback passer than Vince Young and McCoy, the all-Americans who had manned the position the previous seven seasons for UT. Texas never did figure out its offense: what it wanted to do or what it should do.
The Cowboys should avoid that pitfall. None of the quarterback candidates — Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt — can approach Weeden in style (or substance, presumably), but at least OSU knows what it wants to do on offense. The Cowboys will tinker with their offense to suit the quarterback’s strengths, but State most certainly doesn’t want to get too far from the Dana Holgorsen offense implemented before the 2010 season and kept mostly intact for 2011 even after Holgorsen took the West Virginia job. The Cowboys — over two head coaches and four offensive coordinators — have shown a commitment to an offensively style. OSU does not screw around on offense. The Cowboys don’t have one foot in the water, one foot out. They go all in with whatever offense they deem best. That will do the Cowboys well in 2012.
Texas 2010 is a good lesson. Even the most stout of programs can misstep, if attention to detail withers. The Cowboys have made huge strides in their program, and 2011 was a magical season, with a Big 12 championship and the No. 3 final ranking. But nothing is assured.
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