Big 12 Sports.com Correspondent
2011: 12-1 overall, 8-1 in Big 12, won Fiesta Bowl.
Starters returning: Offense 8, defense 8.
Player personnel changes happen every season in college football. Student-athletes either exhaust their eligibility or leave early for the NFL.
Oklahoma State is coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Cowboys won the Big 12 title, set a single-season record with 12 victories and won a BCS bowl game (Fiesta). This season, Oklahoma State will be without record-setting quarterback Brandon Weeden and game-breaking wide receiver Justin Blackmon, a two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award.
The turnover in players presents one of the constant challenges for a coaching staff. After ending an eight-game losing streak to Oklahoma in Bedlam and winning the school's first conference championship since 1948, Oklahoma State appears positioned to maintain success.
"If you follow college football and have been around it," Gundy said, "the past three or four years have been a pretty substantial accomplishment for Oklahoma State. Is our program in great shape? Yes. Do we have good young players in all three phases? Yes. Unfortunately when you get a great quarterback, they're not around for eight to 10 years; they move on.
"You develop another young quarterback, hope that he can make plays and the program continues to move forward."
Weeden took over for Zac Robinson, a record setting quarterback in his own right. In two seasons, Weeden rewrote the record book. Gundy and his staff have handed the reins of the offense to freshman Wes Lunt. An early enrollee, Lunt participated in spring practice and won the starting job.
Lunt led his high school team to two state championships and as a senior passed for 3,650 yards with 31 touchdowns against only four interceptions. At 6-4, he's similar to Weeden in size. this past fall.
"We like our system," said Gundy, whose team has averaged 46 points a game while going 23-3 over the last two seasons. "We like the ability to play fast. We like the ability to throw the ball down the field effectively but also run the football. Wes gives us the best opportunity to stay consistent with our style of play."
Quarterback Brandon Weeden, wide receiver Justin Blackmon, defensive end Richetti Jones, defensive end Jamie Blatnick, wide receiver Josh Cooper, safety Markelle Martin, center Grant Garner, offensive tackle Levy Adcock.
Quarterback Wes Lunt, wide receiver Tracy Moore, wide receiver Isaiah Anderson, wide receiver Charlie Moore, Tight end/wide receiver Blake Jackson, Defensive tackle Calvin Barnett, running back Herschel Sims.
Junior receiver Charlie Moore was the surprise star of the spring game. The 6-2, 200-pounder had nine catches for 243 yards and three touchdowns. One of his TD receptions was a 59-yarder from freshman quarterback Wes Lunt. "Charlie Moore probably surprised everybody," Gundy said. "He's done well all spring. I don't know that anybody would have predicted that he would have had that many catches for that many yards."
Six of Oklahoma State's top seven linebackers return; Shaun Lewis, Alex Elkins and Caleb Lavey piled up 225 tackles last year. "It's the best group of linebackers that we've ever had here that I can remember as a player or a coach," Gundy said.
Joe DeForest left the Oklahoma State staff to join the staff at Big 12 newcomer West Virginia. DeForest had been the Cowboys' special teams coordinator. During the spring, Gundy decided not to appoint an assistant to fill DeForest's role and opted for a group effort. "I like the way we're handling it," said wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn, who worked with the return specialists. "We'll evaluate again, I'm sure, going into (fall) camp and see where we are with trying to spearhead some things."
"It's nice that there are so many defensive leaders this year. It will give us an added swagger. We have been overshadowed by our offense, and we don't mind that because it has been so great and helped us win a championship, but now we're excited to lead and really get it done on defense."
- defensive end Cooper Bassett
"I've been saying that he's gonna be an All-American since the first day of spring. I was like, 'That's a future All-American right there.' It doesn't surprise me at all. I think he's gonna be great for us this year."
- running back Joseph Randle on wide receiver Charlie Moore
"If we beat Iowa State and lost to OU, it's not the same. Yeah, we might have gone on and played in the Sugar Bowl, but it wouldn't have been the same because you didn't win the league. You didn't win the title. You can't say, 'Hey, we're conference champs.' And you did it against OU, who, let's face it, has had the upper hand for years."
- offensive coordinator Todd Monken on winning Bedlam
|Sept. 1||Savannah State|
|Sept. 8||at Arizona|
|Oct. 13||at Kansas*|
|Oct. 20||Iowa State*|
|Nov. 3||at Kansas State*|
|Nov. 10||West Virginia*|
|Nov. 17||Texas Tech*|
|Nov. 24||at Oklahoma*|
|Dec. 1||at Baylor*|