STILLWATER — Take a quick look at the box scores from Oklahoma State’s three losses last season and there’s an obvious trend.
The 30-21 defeat at West Virginia: two missed Cowboy field goals.
The 33-24 heartbreak against OU in Stillwater: a punt return and fake field goal attempt allowed for touchdowns.
The 41-31 Cotton Bowl loss to Missouri: another missed OSU field goal.
All mistakes that were crucial difference makers to swing momentum in the wrong direction for OSU coach Mike Gundy.
“(Special teams) have to be better because they’re the same guys,” Gundy said. “And they’re experienced.”
The Cowboys return their kicker, sophomore Ben Grogan, and their punter/kickoff specialist, senior Kip Smith. Each had up-and-down 2013 campaigns as Grogan hit on 11-of-18 field goals and Smith also struggled with inconsistency
“If you get a kicker in there, you want him to kick for three or four years,” Gundy said. “You don’t want to change those guys out every one or two years … Kip (Smith) was doing really well early in the year and then he had some funks in the middle of the season where his accuracy wasn’t real good.”
Junior college transfer Tyreek Hill’s addition to the return game is expected to fill the production left open by Justin Gilbert and Josh Stewart. Wide receiver David Glidden is also expected to return punts.
The Cowboys coverage units will likely feature a number of young linebackers and defensive backs, who defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said will be thrown in right away due to lack of depth on defense.