Quick Facts on Oklahoma State
Last Year’s Record: 7-6
Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
Coach: Mike Gundy
Returning Offensive Starters: WR Jhajuan Seals; TE Zac Veatch; FB Jeremy Seaton; QB J.W. Walsh; WR Austin Hays; OL Paul Lewis, OL Zachary Crabtree; WR David Glidden; OL Michael Wilson; WR Marcell Ateman; WR Brandon Sheperd
Returning Defensive Starters: DE Jimmy Bean; LB Ryan Simmons, CB Kevin Peterson; LB Seth Jacobs; DE Emmanuel Ogbah; FS Jordan Sterns; CB Ramon Richards; SS Tre Flowers
- DE Emmanuel Ogbah (6-4/275): Just a sophomore last year, Ogbah was really fantastic, making 17 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and registering 11 sacks, to go along with 49 tackles. Ogbah is a physical specimen and a defensive end that doesn’t lack for size or ability to get to the quarterback.
- LB Ryan Simmons (6-0/240): Simmons is a tackling machine, making 96 tackles and was really just all over the field, making 12 tackles for a lost, 2 sacks. Simmons is part of two really terrific linebacking corps, also including Seth Jacobs. Make no mistake that Simmons is a playmaker and 12 tackles for a loss is a ton for a guy that usually starts 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
- QB Mason Rudolph (6-4/220): Much like Patrick Mahomes, Rudolph received late-season play and he did pretty well, winning against Oklahoma and Washington, while being blown out by Baylor. For the year, Rudolph completed 57% of his passes and he progressively was better with his completion percentage each game that he played. Not a ton of touchdowns, only 6, but he did throw 2 each game, but he also threw 4 interceptions in limited time, at least 1 each game and 2 against Baylor. That’s your sample size and Rudolph has essentially been anointed. I know that I felt the same way about Davis Webb last year. I felt that improvement for Webb would happen and then it didn’t. I don’t know all of Rudolph’s warts, but I am sure he has some. He will have to do it without the benefit of an experienced running back, so that’s going to be interesting to watch.
- Lots of Potential on Offense: Potential is the word for unproven and Oklahoma State has plenty of it. I doubted what Oklahoma State’s offense would do when Dana Holgorsen left and it’s changed, still pretty good, but it’s fine. Now, Oklahoma State doesn’t return much of anything offensively, other than Mason and a few receivers that averaged about 50 yards a game. OSU will depend greatly on Chris Carson, a running back from Butler County C.C. and he was originally committed to Georgia before reversing field and signing with the Cowboys. He’s real good, averaging 7.2 yards a carry and ran for 994 yards last year. Add to that and you also have a handful of receivers that haven’t been huge playmakers on offense, Brandon Sheperd only averaged 56 yards a game and only had 5 touchdowns. David Glidden is another guy that averaged 46 yards a game, but he only had 2 touchdowns. Maybe the best hope for a big change is James Washington, a freshman last year, who averaged 35 yard a game and 6 touchdowns. There’s just not a lot there, or I should say there’s a lot of potential, but not a lot proven playmakers. Oklahoma State has some unproven receivers, an unproven running back situation, and an unproven quarterback. Lots of potential.
- It’s About the Defense: The strength of Oklahoma State is going to be the defense. The defense wasn’t great last year, was 91st in total defense, but they were 56th in rushing offense. The two big tackles that anchored that defense have graduated, but the defensive ends are terrific and so are the linebackers. The bookends of Jimmy Bean and Ogbah are really danged good and they are highly productive. Ogbah did have a huge game against Kansas, where he had 5.5 TFL and by the end of the year, he struggled a bit, being shut out against Washington and only registering 2.5 tackles for loss against Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma. That’s not a knock, Ogbah was just a sophomore, so the expectation is that he’ll be even better this year.
- Loaded Up on JUCO: This was interesting to me, so here goes. I don’t pay a lot of attention to other Big 12 schools on signing day. I’m usually doing my own thing, but I had not noticed how many JUCO players Oklahoma State grabbed in their 2015 class. They took two defensive backs, Jordan Burton (6-3/208) and Antwan Hadley (6-3/210). they look like safety prospects, but you never know. They also took two defensive tackles in Notekiai Maile and Vaimoe Sekona, who will most likely be a big part of the rotation this year due to the fact that the Oklahoma State defensive line is relatively thin. They also took two offensive linemen, Matt Kellerman and Brandon Pertile, both in the 6’5″ and 300 pound range. They also took a quarterback / athlete in Todd Mays, really a dual threat sort of quarterback (I think he also considered Texas Tech) who could play multiple offensive positions and also the aforementioned Carson at running back. Of those seven JUCO players, 3 of them are from Butler County C.C.
- It’s All Dependent on Rudolph: I think the defense is going to be pretty good if they can find some tackles, but the offense needs some work and that means that Rudolph will have to be the guy that carries the team. Literally, he’ll have to be the guy. Oklahoma State has, generally speaking, been pretty good running the ball, but they were only 99th in the nation at running the ball last year and 53rd in passing offense (albeit it was with two quarterbacks who weren’t great passers in J.J. Walsh and Daxx Garman). I think I can see the uptick here, but not sure what to think about the rush offense. Gundy has usually been able to just replace assistant coaches and move forward, but Joe Wickline, the offensive line coach left and the Cowboys went from 171 rushing yards a game to about 136. Granted, a lot of that probably had something to do with not exactly having a quarterback that is really consistent, but some of it may be because Wickline. And I think we’ll see pretty early what exactly OSU is going to be offensively. Are they going to be a passing team or a team that wants to rely on the run or maybe a bit of both.
- Best Friends: I really thought that if Boone Pickens and Mike Gundy didn’t settle their differences, it was likely to fracture a really great situation for Oklahoma State. For whatever reason, they got cross-wise and now they’re totally cool. I honestly believed that a break-up was a real possibility and with this pretty much sewn up, the idea being that they figured out to have a relationship without having to be best friends. With them figuring it out, I think this really bodes well for Oklahoma State