Mike Gundy, Kevin Peterson, Ryan Simmons and Jhajuan Seales will likely walk into Big 12 Media Days in Dallas on Monday and hear a laundry list of questions they’ve been answering since January.
Sure, there should be new ones thrown Gundy’s way, likely pertaining to OSU’s poor Academic Progress Rate and asking for clarification on freshman running back Devon Thomas’ status.
But then come the familiar ones: How do you replace last year’s huge senior class? Can the defense come along? Who will start at linebacker? How good is Tyreek Hill?
Gundy and his players will talk, and chances are they’ll say the right things. But come fall camp Aug. 1, the Cowboys can finally do less talking and more doing.
Here are some of the most important items on OSU’s to-do list:
Make a firm decision at quarterback
Gundy has made it clear that J.W. Walsh has the edge at quarterback over Daxx Garman and freshman Mason Rudolph, but all involved would benefit from getting it set in stone.
Last season, Clint Chelf started the opener against Mississippi State and got pulled in favor of Walsh after only six pass attempts. Chelf, of course, eventually got the job back and led OSU through the heat of its schedule.
Even if Gundy doesn’t make it public, giving Walsh the nod could prevent Walsh from looking over his shoulder after every incomplete pass, and it might also be better to provide clarity for Garman and Rudolph.
Get new guys up to speed
It could seem obvious, but this year more than ever the Cowboys will need freshmen to adjust quickly. At linebacker, players such as Gyasi Akem and Josh Mabin could play immediately. So could a host of players in the secondary such as Kirk Tucker.
The Cowboys will need to decide early who they want to play and do everything possible to make sure those players ready.
Fill in the depth chart
This coincides closely with getting the freshmen going, but OSU is faced with deciding who will start at outside linebacker and both safeties spots. Michigan transfer Josh Furman might the favorite to grab one spot in the secondary, but the free safety position is still up for grabs.
At linebacker, sophomore Seth Jacobs will compete with Mabin, Akem and possibly others while Ryan Simmons will start in the middle.
The offensive line also has questions, but it can’t make its depth chart until judging if Brandon Garrett and Devin Davis are able to play.
Avoid further injuries
Davis (knee) and Garrett (leg) are on the comeback trail, but OSU has other players like junior college transfer Devante Averette banged up. Given a lack of depth at almost every position except receiver, the Cowboys can’t afford losing anyone else. That’s tough to control, but the Cowboys should be practicing hard to make up for inexperience. In doing that, the staff also has to be mindful of injury risks.
Decide what to do with Tyreek Hill
Despite being labeled a receiver coming out of junior college, Hill practiced mostly at running back in the spring. OSU coaches raved about Hill, and said it’s not a matter of if he will get the ball, but rather how. It might depend on individual game plans, but OSU needs to get a better idea of where Hill will line up and how it will distribute carries in the backfield.