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Oklahoma State football: Cowboys facing an identity crisis

OSU FOOTBALL — The Oklahoma State football team isn't what it was last year. No offensive assaults, no denying defense. But what, or who, exactly is this team? Saturday's game may go a ways in helping answer those questions.
by John Helsley Published: October 19, 2012

Oklahoma State faces an identity crisis.

Injuries are no doubt contributing, with personnel hits on both sides of the ball reshaping the team's image. Yet even at full strength, who, or what, are these Cowboys?

Not the offensive assault squad from recent seasons.

Not the denying defense they planned on being.

Not a team being talked about in Big 12 contender conversations.

“I feel like right now the perception of our defense and our team isn't where it could be,” said linebacker Alex Elkins. “And perception is everything.”

With today's homecoming clash with Iowa State beginning a stretch of seven games involving six teams ranked in the BCS Standings, the Cowboys admit a sense of urgency in reestablishing themselves as still a factor in the Big 12 and beyond.

At 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference, OSU stands at a crossroad to the season.

“We can't stub our toe another time,” said defensive coordinator Bill Young. “We've got to keep going. We still have a chance to win the conference.”

The major question: who will lead them?

Where OSU's recent successful teams had defined faces of the program – Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, Markelle Martin, Zac Robinson, Russell Okung, Kendall Hunter, Dez Bryant, et al – these Cowboys present no such go-to image.

Who, or what, do they turn to in times of stress?

In piling up 41 wins over the past four seasons, OSU always knew.

And now… TBD.

An avalanche of injuries can't be dismissed. The Cowboys' offensive identity, heavily responsible for the program's positive national perception of late, was reshaped when starter Wes Lunt went down in Week 3. Since then, OSU has leaned on the run game, and the team's most recognized star, Joseph Randle.

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