OSU football: Four burning questions after three games
Four questions for three writers, breaking down the Cowboys as they enter their first bye week and prepare for a crucial Big 12 opener at home against Texas:
1. Through three games, what’s this team’s biggest concern?
Gina Mizell: Other than Wes Lunt’s health? I will go with the depth in the secondary. Devin Hedgepeth’s Achilles injury obviously got overshadowed by Lunt’s knee injury, but that’s a huge blow. First, it’s a tough break for one of the “good guys” on the team. But the Cowboys are suddenly really thin at cornerback with two season-ending injuries (Hedgepeth, Jonovan Griffin) announced in the past two weeks. Andrae May not only needs to come back fully healthy, and soon, but he needs to play quite a bit better than he did in 2011. A lot will be riding on true freshmen Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin. I know the coaches like Larry Stephens at safety, but it might be worth exploring moving him back to corner. And even though the defense played much better against Louisiana-Lafayette, I feel like the strong safety spot and nickel package were exposed against Arizona. Shamiel Gary and Lavocheya Cooper have struggled in pass coverage, and sometimes they’re on the field at the same time. That’s a concern going into the Big 12 season.
John Helsley: Health. Wes Lunt is out — at least temporarily — and key backup corner Devin Hedgepeth is done for the season and possibly his career, suffering another achilles tear. What a tough blow for a kid who seemed to genuinely be an outstanding young man. Starters Alex Elkins and Evan Epstein also missed Saturday’s game and need to get back for the Texas Longhorns in what figures to be an all-hands-on-deck situation in two weeks.
Anthony Slater: Injuries are an issue, but an uncontrollable one. Right now, the most pressing and fixable concern has to be turnovers. And I’m not just talking about the defense forcing more. As a team, Oklahoma State was first in the Big 12 with a +21 turnover differential last season. Through three weeks this year, the Cowboys are at -4, dead last in the conference. That means they not only aren’t taking the ball away (two forced turnovers), but they are giving it up too frequently (five picks and two fumbles). They’ll need to flip both trends if they want to compete consistently in Big 12 play.
2. Who’s the one guy, who hasn’t shown much yet, you still believe will have a huge impact on the season?
Gina Mizell: I’ll go one guy on offense and one guy on defense. On offense, I’m still a believer in Charlie Moore. Not as the Cowboys’ leading receiver, but I think he’ll produce way more than the four catches for 40 yards he has so far. On defense, I still really like Ryan Simmons and was pretty surprised he didn’t play more against Arizona. He’s already shown a good combo of power and speed in the middle and will continue to improve with experience.
John Helsley: Justin Gilbert — kickoff return specialist. Seems like Gilbert hasn’t quite adapted to the new kickoff rules, with a few strong returns mixed in with some mediocre tries. The standards for Gilbert are obviously high, as he carries a respectable 29-yard return average with a long of 61 on nine runbacks. Still, Gilbert is a game-breaker, a guy who gets you on the edge of your seat anticipating every touch. And so far, that special spark is missing. Bet he figures it out, though.
Anthony Slater: Can I say Blake Jackson? I know the guy’s produced two straight 100-yard games with a touchdown, so it’s hard to say he hasn’t had a big impact. But I feel like he’s ready to do more. After three drops polluted his game against Arizona, Jackson caught five for 112 on Saturday, giving the Cowboys his first solid end-to-end performance. And I still felt his size and athleticism went a little underutilized. I mean, they don’t just make 6-foot-3 235-pound athletic freaks every day. And when they do, we usually call them linebackers. Not slot receivers. So I think, if he avoids the dropped passes, Jackson will emerge as Oklahoma State’s go-to target, nearing Justin Blackmon-level production for the next two seasons.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 26051Oklahoma baseball: Joe Simpson 'thrilled' that Sunny Golloway left OU
- 17463Classen School of Advanced Studies valedictorian disappears while hiking with family in Ecuador
- 8771OKC Central: Architectural "Worsts"
- 8410Oklahoma State football: Mike Gundy lifts Wes Lunt restrictions, but too late
- 8211UPDATE: I-40 reopened at Shields after fatal wreck
- 7989Live blog: "The Voice" Season 4 live finale
- 7271Oklahoma State football: A stunning success story at the box office
- 6160Get App-y: Google Glass to offer heads-up computing
- 5551Prosecutors say stolen car was at heart of 2011 fatal shootings in Oklahoma City
- 4750Team Blake's Danielle Bradbery wins "The Voice"; The Swon Brothers finish in third place
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients