OSU football: Cowboys open camp in an unfamiliar position

The Big 12 is wide open, but Oklahoma State is the one at the top of the preseason poll.
by Gina Mizell Published: August 1, 2013

BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, gmizell@opubco.com

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State opens fall camp in a position it has never been in before — projected to win the Big 12 championship.

The conference is wide open, of course, with six teams receiving at least one first-place vote in the preseason media poll. That means OSU still has plenty of questions as the Cowboys begin fall camp Friday morning.

There's a quarterback competition that has, technically, not been yet been settled. There are several position battles, such as defensive end and kicker/punter, to be staged. Highly touted newcomers have arrived but have not yet participated in a practice.

Here's a primer of some of the storylines The Oklahoman will be monitoring as the Cowboys begin their march toward their season opener against Mississippi State in Houston.

Quarterback derby

Clint Chelf: Still expected to win the starting job, despite Gundy's refusal to make an official announcement before the Cowboys' opener. He still has the best grasp of the Cowboys' Air Raid system and has displayed ability as both a thrower and occasional runner. Accuracy could still improve, and should come with continued work with the first unit.

J.W. Walsh: Unless he has dramatically improved his ability to throw to the outside receivers and downfield, overtaking Chelf for the starting job would be a surprise. But the sophomore will be involved in the OSU offense regardless. How much? We'll see. But his versatility and athleticism in his short-yardage and goal-line package down the stretch of last season brought a valuable new dimension to the Cowboy attack. And his intangible leadership qualities are undeniable.

Daxx Garman: Wes Lunt's transfer frees up Garman for more reps during the fall. The transfer from Arizona has impressed Gundy with his arm strength, but he has little experience running the Cowboys' system. Last season, though, shows Garman will need to be ready.

Top position battles

Defensive end

With the departure of Ryan Robinson, Nigel Nicholas and Cooper Bassett, OSU has big holes to fill here for the second consecutive season. Tyler Johnson, a former walk-on and converted linebacker, looks poised to start as a senior. Several others will be in the mix for significant playing time, including junior college transfer Sam Wren, sophomores Jimmy Bean and Trace Clark and redshirt freshmen Victor Irokansi, Eric Davis, Emmanuel Ogbah and Jeremiah Tshimanga.

Kicker/punter

Gundy was candid in his assessment of the kicking game during the spring, calling it average at best. The gigantic void left by triple threat Quinn Sharp is an underrated storyline, and true freshman Ben Grogan will likely be relied on to immediately contribute in some capacity. Kip Smith, a UCLA transfer, and Bobby Stonebreaker are also in contention for kicking duties, while Smith and Michael Reichenstein are in the mix to punt.

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by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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