Oklahoma State football: Cowboys have some answers, but plenty of questions remain

OSU has two capable quarterbacks. The defense, though, has some issues.
by Gina Mizell Published: October 1, 2012


photo - Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh (4) drops back to pass during a college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the University of Texas (UT) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh (4) drops back to pass during a college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the University of Texas (UT) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

The secondary has been the biggest disappointment for the Cowboys so far, especially in defending the deep ball. Whoever has played Martin's old position of strong safety — Shamiel Gary or Lavocheya Cooper — has struggled against the pass.

So have cornerbacks Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert, who were touted as arguably the best duo in the conference before the season. They've both been consistently beat 1-on-1, been called for pass interference and have not made an interception after accounting for 10 last season.

Perhaps Martin helped those two more than we realized.

Three remaining questions

1. Where are the turnovers?

The 2012 version of the Cowboy defense was hyped in the preseason as a group that would allow fewer yards while still keeping its identity of forcing turnovers. OSU led the nation with 44 takeaways last season, and defensive coordinator Bill Young said the team's goal is to force three per game.

The Cowboys haven't come anywhere close to that, as they have four takeaways in four games. Two were against Savannah State. All four came from backups, with interceptions by Ashton Lampkin, Lyndell Johnson and Tyler Johnson and a fumble recovery by Joe Mitchell.

OSU did become the first team to intercept Texas quarterback David Ash, but it will need to make more momentum-shifting plays during the Big 12 season. Otherwise, issues like not being able to get the key stop on third and fourth down are going to be magnified.

2. Where is the depth?

Another apparent strength of this Cowboy team before the season was the depth, especially on defense. But in its two legitimate games, it hasn't shown.

Against Arizona, defensive tackle Christian Littlehead and wide receiver Austin Hays didn't play, and guys like linebacker Ryan Simmons and wide receiver Charlie Moore barely played. Against Texas, running back Joseph Randle and Calvin Barnett needed to come off the field at critical moments in the fourth quarter because they appeared to be gassed after playing nearly the entire contest.

Injuries have also contributed to OSU's thinning depth at certain spots. Backup cornerbacks Devin Hedgepeth and Jonovan Griffin were both lost to season-ending injuries, backup cornerback Andrae May and backup receiver Torrance Carr haven't played yet this season and Hays, Cooper, Tyler Johnson and Lyndell Johnson have missed time.

3. When will Lunt return?

The two byes in three weeks worked out well for Lunt's recovery. Gundy said Monday that Lunt could return to practice by the end of the week.

If Lunt does not start against Kansas on Oct. 13, expect him to be back by the Oct. 20 Homecoming contest against Iowa State.


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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