by Brandon Chatmon
This preseason, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy had five goals heading into the season. Here’s a look at those goals and how the Cowboys have progressed thus far.
1. Make sure the Cowboys are in good condition, yet avoid burnout
Analysis: Clearly the Cowboys camp was physical. OSU lost running back Kye Staley and linebacker Orie Lemon before the season even started.
But it was because preseason camp was physical that the Cowboys defeated Georgia. It was a physical football game against an SEC power and OSU was up to the challenge largely because Gundy had prepared them well for the opener.
Grade: B (just because of the season ending injuries to Staley and Lemon)
2. Name a legit backup quarterback
Analysis: Gundy named Alex Cate the backup quarterback before the season started. But he wasn’t exactly heaping praise on the junior from Salt Lake City when he did so.
Cate saw his first playing time against Grambling and promptly took a shot to the head and left the game. Brandon Weeden, the Cowboys’ No. 3 quarterback, came in and impressed. He threw two touchdown passes and showed surprising mobility on a 13-yard scramble. Weeden has great tools so it makes you wish you could have seen more of Cate since he beat out Weeden for the backup gig.
Grade: A. Gundy accomplished his goal of naming a backup and he said he wouldn’t name one just to name one so the naming of Cate meant there was separation between the two quarterbacks.
3. Get a great feel for new system put in place by new DC Bill Young
Analysis: The players seem to really enjoy playing for Young. The Cowboys defense has had its ups and downs but throughout all the games they’ve had positive stretches in which they showed signs of being a solid defense. Now it’s a matter of getting the consistency they are searching for.
Not to mention I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some things they’ve held back defensively heading into Big 12 play.
Grade: B. There haven’t been a lot of blown assignments and the players seem to like the system. But I’d imagine they are still adding things to the system heading into conference play.
4. Become better tacklers
Analysis: This is one area it seems the Cowboys have struggled. After a good tackling game against Georgia, missed tackles against Houston contributed to the Cowboys only loss.
And their tackling, while improved, still hasn’t returned to the level it was at against the Bulldogs.
Grade: D. After the past three games, Gundy mentioned one-on-one tackling as an area he hoped to improve. The one bright spot was the UGA game in which OSU’s D showed it can be a defense full of solid tacklers.
5. Take better care of the ball offensively to avoid turnovers
Analysis: Before the season Gundy talked about the turnovers the defense was getting against the offense. While the defense has proven to be very good at forcing turnovers, the offense has struggled to protect the football.
Limiting turnovers is critical to the Cowboys success and they’ve had 10 turnovers already which is half of their total of 2008 (20 turnovers) and nearly 2.5 turnovers per game. From this point forward, OSU must limit its turnovers to one per game or they’ll have a tough time winning the Big 12 south.
Grade: F. Clearly this goal has not been accomplished. The Cowboys are doing a worse job protecting the ball than they did a year ago. OSU seems confident they will be better at protecting the ball as their young players get more game experience but that remains to be seen.