STILLWATER — Nobody in or around the Oklahoma State football program willingly allows for an anticipated drop-off.
Not even with 28 seniors missing from a year ago, as well as several other key contributors.
“The past is the past,” linebacker Ryan Simmons said of the roster turnover. “This is a new year and this is what we have and what we’re working with.
“It’s going to raise questions, because people don’t know what to expect. It happens every year. But as far as us going out and getting the job done, we’re held to the same standards as last year.”
Of course, that’s the only acceptable attitude, with pride and man cards at risk.
That’s the way it is everywhere this time of year, even in the camps of football failures like New Mexico and Tulane and Temple and Florida International.
So freshmen and sophomores are waging a two-deep takeover at OSU?
So No. 1-ranked and defending national champ Florida State is up first in a rugged schedule that also features road trips to Manhattan and Norman and Waco and Fort Worth — three of which carry Top 25 status?
So the Cowboys, used to being in the middle of the Big 12 title chase, are now picked for the middle of the Big 12 standings?
So it is.
“We don’t try to look at that,” said junior cornerback Kevin Peterson. “We just try to keep going, play our hearts out. Win games.
“It’s motivation. You never see yourself down like that. Just play games and let people know what you can do.”
Still, anybody in or around the Oklahoma State football team would admit that the Cowboys are best built for 2015 and beyond, when the kids — and we do mean kids — will be past their Big 12 baptisms.
That’s when the buzz-worthy players collected from what Cowboys coaches believe to be their best recruiting classes can pair talent with experience.
“There’s just really no substitute for having experienced players,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy.
That’s not to say 2014 doesn’t offer hope and optimism.
Oh, it’s there, beginning with the shot at taking on FSU to start the season.
Yet no matter how the next three months play out, exceeding expectations or not, the bar for what comes next goes higher.
OSU’s roster is overrun with youth.
Freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores dominate the squad’s overall makeup.
The junior class is strong, setting up a vital core of talent and leadership for 2015.
At the top, only 11 scholarship seniors can be counted.
Youth will be served, too, with underclassmen holding spots all over the depth chart. There’s a lot of developing and growing up to be done.
Showing up in practice is one thing. Getting it done on Saturdays is another.
Still, by all accounts, this group of OSU youngsters is oozing with talent and a fire to become better.
“They’re so eager,” Gundy said. “It’s so enjoyable to be around them. And I see the look in some of the young guys’ eyes. They’re considerably better than when they showed up here, just in this short period of time. It’s a lot of fun to be around. This team’s fun.”
OSU’s offense could be good.
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