Welcome, finally, to the 2014 football season.
As August comes to a close, Oklahoma State’s schedule features an intriguing menu, with No. 1 Florida State more than an appetizer.
More than a main course.
Maybe much more.
This made-for-TV event has been hotly discussed and debated for more than a year, initially drawing the ire of Mike Gundy, who’s on record for preferring softer openings.
Now it’s time to halt the talk.
And to start getting a feel for these new-look Cowboys.
Five things to watch:
1. Who’s Who. The Cowboys have been rebuilt on defense and along the offensive line. Freshmen – some of them true freshmen – are being pressed into action. It’s not an ideal scenario, yet there’s optimism that while youth must be served, it is talented youth. Grab your roster from today’s Oklahoman and get to know these kid Cowboys.
2. How’s J.W.? Coaches and teammates love J.W. Walsh’s leadership and toughness. And he’s been dubbed a “winner.” But Walsh still has something to prove to Cowboys fans. And, apparently, to Gundy, who has yet to fully embrace his quarterback publicly. Walsh’s career has been streaky, with some good and some bad, but no definitive read on if he can progress to premium QB status. Maybe this is his time, as a mature junior. Maybe not. While FSU represents a rugged test, especially with OSU breaking in first-time starters from the center all the way to right tackle, all eyes will be on Walsh to see what he can do.
3. Get Your Freak On. OK, we’ve all awaited the debut of Tyreek Hill. We’ve heard about the speed. And the skills. And his game-changing abilities. Still, we want to see it. Now we get the chance.
4. Fast, Or Faster? The Cowboys prefer to play fast. But against the Seminoles, faster than fast may be the right approach on offense. Auburn gave FSU trouble with its up-tempo attack. And Cowboys coaches have dissected every moment of that game tape, looking for similarities and strengths of their own that can be exploited. Playing faster could minimize the need for OSU’s O-line to hold blocks and maximize opportunities for the plentiful playmakers in the backfield and at receiver.
5. Stay Aggressive? A year ago, the Cowboys defense emerged as one of the Big 12’s best by flipping to a more attacking style. With seven senior starters gone and inexperience dominating the depth chart this season, will coordinator Glenn Spencer stay aggressive, or try a more conservative approach?