There are a few teams in the top 25 that we think won’t last. In working through our research for our 2018 Oklahoma State Cowboys football preview, we have to say that this team is one of them. They have some big question marks on both sides of the ball. Although they have gone 10-3 each of the last three seasons, have an overall kind schedule, and are coached by the smart and seasoned Mike Gundy (114-53 Oklahoma State and Overall, 8-4 Bowls), this team will struggle more than most.
The Cowboys certainly can score. Last season, they averaged 45.0 PPG (2nd Big 12, 4th Nationally). This team had the top passing offense in the country as Mason Randolph threw for 4,904 yards and 37 TDs, He connected on 65.0% of his passes and tossed just nine picks. Replacing him will be senior Taylor Cornelius (60.0 COMP%, 0 TDs, 0 INTs). He threw 10 passes last season. Another concern is the offensive line, which loses three starters. Can they buck up and protect Cornelius?
Also gone are the top two receivers who together caught 21 TD passes. Still, there is some very fine talent and experience in this area. Senior WR Jalen McCleskey (50 REC, 12.9 YPC, 5 TDs) and sophomore wideout Dillon Stoner (44 REC, 13.1 YPA, 6 TDS) are both deep threats. Also in good shape is the ground attack group, as top rusher Justice Hill (268 ATT, 1,467 YDs, 5.5 YPA, 15 TDs). He’s tough to stop. If the O-line can come through, he will have a great season.
Last season, the Cowboys defense allowed opponents 29.4 PPG (6th Big 12, 85th Nationally). They performed best against the run, giving up 140.7 YPG (5th Big 12, 38th Nationally). However, they had a tough time with the air attack, as teams averaged 262.6 YPG (7th Big 12, 117th Nationally). Our 2018 Oklahoma State Cowboys football preview sees a drop off in experience and talent in the secondary, which means this team may allow even more passing yards. A lot is riding on junior corner A.J. Green (45 TKLs, 4.5 TFL, 5 PBU, 4 INTs). He will be the anchor for the deep backs.
The LB unit has lost some important talent, but they’ve gained in experience and depth. Senior LB Justin Phillips (64 TKLs, 2.5 SCKs, 7 TFL, 2 OBU, 2 INTs) has the ability to read plays quickly and make the play. He’s the team’s top returning tackler. Junior DE Jordan Brailford (57 TKLs, 5 SCKs, 5.5 TFL) is the top player on what is a solid and tough frontline.
In his sophomore season, placekicker Matt Ammendola (70-70 XP, 23-29 FG) struggled at first. But he found his focus and led the Big 12 in field goals. His longest was an impressive 53-yard attempt. Punter Zach Sinor (38 Punts, 43.1 YPP, 9 w/in20) was fine on distance but was off when it came to placement. He comes back for his senior season, and it’s hoped he can recreate his sophomore year when he was solid. The kick return units are good but not spectacular.
2018 Oklahoma State Cowboys Football Preview: Final Word
Oklahoma State opens at home against Missouri State (Sep 1). The Cowbots have won 22 home openers straight. They welcome Boise State (Sep 15) for a game that we think will test this team. After four straight home games, they go to Kansas (Sep 29). They should win this one. If they don’t, this is going to be a long season for this team. Our 2018 Oklahoma State Cowboys football preview sees their home contest against Texas (Oct 27) as a huge test. Can the Cowboys beat the Longhorns. They travel to Oklahoma (Nov 10) for a big game that means everything to the state and the two teams. Finishing off the season at home with West Virginia (Nov 17) and away against TCU (Nov 24) won’t be easy. We think the Cowboys lose one of these (at least).
Top Three Takeaways
- QB is a big question
- Rush attack looks solid
- Pass defense is still problematic