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Cowboys have questions at receiver, running back

By Scott Wright Published: August 24, 2008
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Entering his fourth season as Oklahoma State's head coach, the biggest question facing Mike Gundy is whether he can get past 6-6 in the regular season. The answer to that question relies almost entirely on how the Cowboys answer these questions:

Is the defense really better than last year?
It is definitely better in two areas: overall speed and depth. Those two improvements should lead to better results on the field, but there are several inexperienced players — either first-year guys or returning players who haven't significantly seen the field — who will be heavily counted on.

The biggest key will be the defensive line, which can take pressure off the secondary by providing more of a pass rush than last year's unit. The linebackers have experience and will be considerably faster than last year with Patrick Lavine and Andre Sexton at the outside spots.

How will Oklahoma State replace the production of running back Dantrell Savage?
With quantity. Savage anchored the Big 12's best — and the nation's eighth-best — rushing attack. Sophomore Kendall Hunter will be the team's first option at running back after earning playing time as a true freshman, but junior-college transfer Beau Johnson has impressed coaches as well.

Junior Keith Toston is coming off ACL surgery, but will still get a shot because of his experience. And a pair of true freshmen, Travis Miller and Kye Staley, stood out during August, enough so that coach Mike Gundy would be comfortable playing either.

Who will develop into the No.

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Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is possibly OSU's second-best receiving threat and should improve on his 35 receptions. by MATT STRASEN, THE OKLAHOMAN

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