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OSU football: Mississippi State rewind — What we learned; what questions linger

Due to a month of practices held under football quarantine, Oklahoma State's opener against Mississippi State promised to be quite, well, revealing.
by John Helsley Published: September 1, 2013

Joe Wickline still rules. The Cowboys' popular offensive line coach keeps spinning bad news and spitting out results. For the second straight year, Wickline lost his starting left tackle before the opener when Devin Davis was lost to season-ending knee surgery. Then we learned that the starting tackles, Parker Graham and Daniel Koenig, were hobbled as well. So Wickline pulled some of his plug-and-play mastery, forming a group that dominated an SEC team at its own game.

Kip is OK. Actually, Kip Smith was better than OK in the opener. On the spot as Quinn Sharp's replacement at punter, Smith averaged 45.2 yards per boot, with a long of 54 yards. Smith also excels at booming high kickoffs, also apparent Saturday.

What Lingers

Chelf life? So has Clint Chelf's feel-good meteoric rise to Choo Choo fame and good football fortune really flamed out just as fast? Don't bet on it. Chances are he'll be needed this season, perhaps again to bail out the Cowboys like he did in 2012. The way Walsh keeps colliding with defenders — the way Zac Robinson did, and it never ended well for him — there's no guarantee he'll remain standing through 13 games. And knowing Chelf, he'll be ready.

Offensive direction. Gundy keeps talking about how the Cowboys are committed to spreading it out and throwing it. And with his current collection of elite receivers, seems like a solid plan. But there wasn't much winging it Saturday. And there's uncertainty, even with Gundy, of where exactly the offense is headed.

Deep defense. Sure, Gary looked like a reborn safety. And Justin Gilbert returned to his intercepting ways and Mississippi State never reached the end zone. Don't declare a shutdown mode just yet. The Bulldogs didn't really pose much of a test through the air, not with their newbie receivers and quarterback Tyler Russell getting hurt. That was no Big 12 offense on the other sideline. Bigger tests await.

Kicking concerns. Smith answered some kicking game questions with his punts and kickoffs. Still more questions remain. Like, is Ben Grogan a weapon? The freshman got just one field goal try, and a 49-yarder at that, but it was low and blocked and nearly returned for a score. MSU's Jameon Lewis also returned a kickoff 66 yards.