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OSU roundtable: Will J.W. Walsh be a big part of the Cowboy offense?

Four questions for three writers, previewing the upcoming Oklahoma State football season.
by Jenni Carlson and John Helsley Modified: July 24, 2013 at 6:13 pm •  Published: July 24, 2013

The Oklahoman's staff members discuss three topics surrounding this year's Oklahoma State football team:

1. Which position group enters the season as the biggest question mark?

Gina Mizell (beat writer) - Kicker/punter would be the easy answer here, but I'll go with defensive end. Mike Gundy even highlighted that position group as a big question at Big 12 Media Days. The Cowboys are replacing both starters for the second consecutive season. Senior Tyler Johnson, a converted linebacker who played end for the first time last season, is the most experienced guy of the bunch. Junior college transfer Sam Wren got solid marks during the spring, and Jimmy Bean obviously had a fantastic performance in the spring finale. Sophomore Trace Clark has played a bit. But that's about it. OSU is going to need help from at least one of its redshirt freshmen--Victor Irokansi, Emmanuel Ogbah, Eric Davis or Jeremiah Tshimanga. OSU's plan to play more aggressively in 2013 has to start with a strong pass rush, particularly against the spread offenses in the Big 12. 

John Helsley (beat writer) - Defensive ends. Three guys with starting credentials -- Ryan Robinson, Nigel Nicholas and Cooper Bassett -- are gone. There are plenty of candidates, ranging from late-blooming veteran Tyler Johnson and Juco addition Sam Wren to a cast of freshmen and sophomores readying for their breakouts. Jimmy Bean looked like the real deal in the spring, but spring things can be deceiving. The position is critical in the Big 12, where pressuring quarterbacks is a must. So if the Cowboys truly are going to be better on defense, the development of this spot will be key.

Jenni Carlson (columnist) - Kickers and punters. I know the offensive line has some holes to fill, but that seems to be the story lots of years and Joe Wickline just inserts another one of his guys and goes on down the road. I know defensive end is up in the air, but the potential there is high. But replacing Quinn Sharp is a real issue. He was such a game-changer for the Cowboys last season, pinning teams deep and reversing fields. No one on campus showed the same ability during the spring. That could leave the kicking and punting duties to freshman Ben Grogan. He's highly touted, but that's a lot of pressure on a true freshman.

2. Finish this sentence: OSU is favored to win the Big 12 mainly because of ___________. 

Mizell - The consistency Mike Gundy's program has shown over the past five seasons. The Cowboys have won 49 games over that span, which is tied for the ninth-best total in the country. Voters have noticed and given the nod to the Cowboys is a seemingly wide-open league. The stockpile of skill players on offense, especially two capable quarterbacks in a league that suddenly has very few proven players at the postion, helps, too. The schedule might have something to do with it, as well. OSU gets Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor and Kansas State at home.

Helsley - Offense. OSU has two proven quarterbacks, and winning quarterbacks at that, in Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh. They'll prove to have the best receiving corps in the league and one of the best in the country. Joe Wickline's offensive lines are always strong. Running back depth is a bit of a concern, yet it's one position where the playbook doesn't get in the way of preventing true freshmen from making an impact; and the Cowboys seemingly have good fits in incoming backs Rennie Childs and Corion Webster. So the Cowboys will be very good on offense. Again.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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