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Oklahoma State football: Cowboys have done relatively well despite loss of two QBs

Oklahoma State is 4-2 at the halfway point of the regular season. That's not so bad after losing stars like Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.
By Gina Mizell Published: October 21, 2012

Best defensive player: Calvin Barnett

Before the season, Mike Gundy called Barnett the junior college player most physically ready for Division I football he's coached.

And so far, we've seen why.

The big defensive tackle has16 tackles (3.5 for loss), four quarterback hurries, one pass break-up and one fumble recovery. He's also helped plug the middle for an OSU defense that ranks 36th in the nation against the run (128.83 yards allowed per game).

If Barnett also becomes a player that can consistently sack the quarterback — he doesn't have one yet this season — he will become a terror for opposing offenses.

Note: Should give a hat tip to Shaun Lewis here, as well. He's been made several big plays so far this season, leading the Cowboys in tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2.5) while also recording a forced fumble, two pass break-ups and two quarterback hurries.

Top newcomer: J.W. Walsh

Turns out we've seen Walsh for the last time this season. But overall, the redshirt freshman quarterback was solid — sometimes excellent — while filling in for Lunt for nearly four games.

Walsh currently ranks 14th in the nation in passing efficiency (163.78 rating) and threw for 1,467 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions this season. He was just 161 passing yards away from breaking Donovan Woods' OSU freshman record set in 2004.

The dual-threat Walsh had limitations in OSU's spread offense, and really, really struggled to throw the ball downfield against Kansas. But he led the Cowboys to a 3-1 record and is not the reason they lost to Texas.

Biggest surprise: James Castleman

Barnett's mate on the interior has also been one of the Cowboys' top defenders and young stars.

Castleman entered fall camp third on the depth chart but quickly ascended to a starting spot and has become a key contributor. He has 21 tackles (3.5 for loss), 0.5 sacks and two pass break-ups.

Biggest disappointment: Turnover production

Hard to single out one player or position group when the Cowboy defense ranks 111th in the nation in the category in which it most prides itself.

OSU has forced just six turnovers in six games, though two came Saturday against ISU. Perhaps that will kick-start a higher turnover rate for the second half of the season.

Best uniform: Black helmet, orange jersey, black pants (Texas)

This was my favorite look from 2011 when the Cowboys sported it for Bedlam, and it looked just as sharp against Texas. The black helmet is simply fabulous.