Pokes Still Seeking Respect?
By John Helsley
follow on twitter @jjhelsley
Here we go again.
OK, so it’s hardly the doom-and-gloom perception of a year ago, yet the Cowboys still face believability problems of some degree in forecasting the 2011 football season.
A year ago, ignoring the program building Mike Gundy and his staff had done, many predictions pegged OSU for a major dropoff. Some were dire enough to suggest the Cowboys for the Big 12 South cellar.
There’s none of that this year, not with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and others still around following a school-record, 11-win season in 2010. And in truth, there is love flowing into Stillwater, where the Cowboys will likely open next fall as a top-10 team.
Still, within the Big 12, they’re regularly being billed as a third-place team, as this conversation from the editors at Athlon suggests. No issue with Athlon, which is a fine magazine with much tradition. They take their work seriously and as you can see, they’ve put much thought into their picks.
But third place?
Oklahoma, which must visit Boone Pickens Stadium, is the pick for No. 1, a projection that extends from the conference to the national scene. And that’s acceptable, seeing as the Sooners won their seventh Big 12 title and the Fiesta Bowl last season, and return the bulk of their squad.
A&M is this season’s darling, based on a bounce-back year… to 9-4.
Last we saw the Aggies, they were getting whipped 41-24 by LSU in the Cotton Bowl. Granted, A&M was a better team once Ryan Tannehill took over as starting quarterback. But he wasn’t so much a dynamic presence — compared to the league’s elite QBs — as he was a preferred replacement against the freefall of benched Aggies quarterback Jerrod Johnson.
Tannehill’s final 2010 numbers: 13 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 126 passing yards per game.
Hey, Tannehill should improve in his first full season as starter, with full-time exposure at the position, after being miscast as a wide receiver for years. The Aggies have plenty of talented players back and could rise up in the conference, even to No. 1, if everything falls just right.
But isn’t there plenty of positives to assume about OSU as well? Weeden (he of the 34 TDs and 329 yards per game average) should be better in his second season, too. Blackmon returns as the league’s premier playmaker, along with the league’s best offensive line, which is intact.
The Cowboys had much to prove in 2010. And did.
Maybe there’s still something left to prove.
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