2011 Oklahoma State Preview – Offense
Oklahoma State OT Levy Adcock
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Oklahoma State Cowboy Offense
Preview 2011 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Can the offense continue to blow up without Dana Holgorsen? The former offensive coordinator took over the head coaching job at West Virginia, and new coordinator Todd Monken has all the pressure on his shoulders to keep the nation's No. 3 offense, No. 3 scoring offense, and No. 2 passing attack rolling. There's no excuse for the offense to not be unstoppable, with Justin Blackmon back to lead a devastating receiving corps that might be the best in the nation. Veteran quarterback Brandon Weeden knows what he's doing and has the arm to keep the passing game bombing away, and he'll get more time to work with all five starters returning up front. The only question mark is at running back where Kendall Hunter is gone, but Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith have terrific upside.
Star of the offense: Junior WR Justin Blackmon
Passing: Brandon Weeden
342-511, 4,277 yds, 34 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Joseph Randle
82 carries, 452 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Justin Blackmon
111 catches, 1,782 yds, 20 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore RB Joseph Randle
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Michael Harrison
Best pro prospect: Blackmon
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Blackmon, 2) OT Levy Adcock, 3) QB Brandon Weeden
Strength of the offense: Receivers, Line
Weakness of the offense: Proven Running Back, Veteran QB Depth
State of the Unit: As soon as Brandon Weeden
(6-4, 213, Sr.) announced he was staying for his final season, the team had its unquestioned team leader. The 27-year-old Weeden has a good arm and can push it deep, as he's as mature as they come, transitioning over the past four years out of pro baseball after pitching the New York Yankee farm system. Confidence isn't a problem, and it's a plus as the main man to lead the attack with the maturity and ability to do whatever he wants in the passing game. His easy going personality has been a good fit with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who is demanding but sensible, and the pair have formed a good team with Monken, who's straight out of the NFL accustomed to dealing with an older player. There's no reason Weeden can't improve on his numbers of 4,277-yards and 34 touchdowns with the great line in front of him and with so many receiving weapons back, but the number he wants to improve on most is 11, the number of wins the team came up with last year.
It's a three-way battle for the No. 2 job behind Weeden, with a fight to be groomed to be the main man next year.
Clint Chelf (6-1, 192, Soph.) is slightly ahead of the duo of
Johnny Deaton (6-3, 204, Soph.) and
J.W. Walsh (6-1, 190, Fr.), but all three can make plays.
Unlike Weeden, all three were dual-threat quarterbacks coming out of high school, and all can move as well as push the ball deep. Chelf and Deaton have had a year in the offense and have both improved their mechanics and execution in the passing game. Walsh, who just reported as an early enrollee in January, is a coach's son has a
Watch Out For … Weeden to become a national star. He became Oklahoma State's first All-Big 12 quarterback and first All-Conference quarterback in over 50-years, and now he'll be a bigger story because of his age as well as his numbers. Efficiency and leadership-wise, he'll be as good as anyone in college football.
Strength: The receiving corps. Weeden's arm is tremendous and the backups have good skills, but no matter who's under center, having Justin Blackmon, Josh Cooper, and Hubert Anyiam to throw to makes life easier.
Weakness: Inexperienced backups. Chelf and Deaton have some time logged in and the offense won't have to throw out somebody that isn't ready, but there's a drop-off in experience and maturity if Weeden gets knocked out. This is a team that can do big things, and it'll struggle for a stretch with a No. 2 man in.
Outlook: The sky's the limit on Weeden and his numbers, but the key to the program could be getting the backups in as soon as possible in blowouts. Chelf needs more reps and more work, and seeing what the other options can do is a must for the future, but for now, this is Weeden's offense and he's the unquestioned ringleader of a devastating attack.
Unit Rating: 8
State of the Unit: It will be a rare when the offense will open with two backs in the backfield, but the Cowboys still have two-back personnel and the diamond formation that last year's offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen and current offensive line coach Joe Wickline came up with on a staff retreat last year. It was a formation that was so successful it was copied by other spread offenses in the region, but the OSU offense has to hope everything keeps working without Kendall Hunter, who ran for 1,548 yards and 16 scores as one of the nation's most productive backs.
Sophomores Joseph Randle (6-1, 191) and Jeremy Smith
(5-10, 202) will each see significant carries, and while they might not be co-starters, that's effectively what they'll be. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken likes both backs and sees Smith as a little more of an every down back, after running for 262 yards and second scores, with a touchdown in each of the last four games, but has Randle pegged as an explosive, big play runner who'll make the most impact on the perimeter after finishing second on the team with 452 yards and two scores with 37 catches for 427 yards and a touchdown. Mostly a receiver over the second half of the season, he's a great outlet back who can do big things with the ball in his hands.
Kye Staley (5-10, 213, Jr.) returned to the team after giving up football but staying with the program following a career threatening knee injury. He was going to play fullback, but was so productive in spring that Gundy put him at running back after looking close to normal.
David Paulsen (6-3, 250, Jr.) and inside receiver
Tracy Moore (6-1, 233, Jr.) are both possibilities at fullback when needed.
Watch Out For … The freshmen. Herschel Sims and Desmond Roland could be the team's most talented running backs from the moment they step into practice. Both players have the ability to pry their way into playing time much as Randle did last season. Gundy has no problems starting freshmen right away.
Strength: Numbers. Hunter is gone, but there are a number of players ready to take up the slack at the position with an excellent combination of talents to work with. The coaching staff recruits to a type to work in the OSU spread, and the speed and quickness is there with each of the backs.
Weakness: Proven fullback. The O doesn't use the fullback on a regular basis, but having a powerful blocker and change-up back in two-time All-Big 12 fullback Bryant Ward was a huge help in short yardage and goal line situations. Paulsen has big shoes to fill.
Outlook: The passing game might have gotten all the credit and most of the glory last year, but the ground attack finished fourth in the Big 12 averaging 174 yards per game and came up with a few hugely effective performances. Randle and Smith have the talent and skill to keep the production going and keeping everything moving after losing Hunter. If the freshmen play like they're supposed to, the rotation should be fantastic.
Unit Rating: 7.5
State of the Unit: Everything came together last year for the Cowboy receiving corps, and now all the key parts are back. Bo Boling finished third on the team with 42 catches for 437 yards, but he's replaceable. Counting the running backs, eight of the top nine receivers return, including the best wide receiver in college football last year.
Junior Justin Blackmon was supposed to be good, and he showed the talent and athleticism early on in his career to justify the lofty status as a top recruit, but no one expected him to become the most consistent and dominant target in the country. He missed the Kansas State game after being suspended for a driving incident, but he won the Biletnikoff Award anyway with 111 catches for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns, making at least one scoring grab and hitting the 100-yard mark in every game. Even with teams loaded up to stop him, he still produced with ten or more catches in six games and with nine catches in two other games. At 6-1 and 211 pounds he has the size and the strength to outmuscle most defensive backs, and while he's not a blazer, he's terrific at getting separation deep and he's always breaking into the open. While he's not the freak of nature playmaker that Dez Bryant was, he's ultra-athletic with great hands and superior route-running ability. It's all there for another big season and another dominant performance.
Getting the benefit of seeing single coverage with all the attention paid to Blackmon, 5-11, 189-pound senior
Josh Cooper should come up with another strong season on the inside after catching 68 passes for 736 yards and five scores, with 100-yard days against Nebraska and Troy and with a touchdown in four of the last five regular season games. Health has been an issue for him throughout his career, but he was fine last year and he's one of the team's fastest players with the wheels to take short passes deep.
Tracy Moore (6-1, 233, Jr.) and veteran and talented Hubert Anyiam (6-0, 202, Sr.) will get the call at the other two positions in the spread attack. Moore is big and explosive with the size to work like a tight end when needed and just enough speed to be a dangerous inside receiver. He might be built like a fullback, but he's an athlete who can also block.
Anyiam has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency over his career, but he has the size and speed to be fantastic. It was supposed to be him, and not Blackmon, who was projected to be the flagship receiver, but he only came up with 11 catches for 135 yards and three scores, missing half the year with an ankle injury. He had a strong spring, but he has been great in practices before and now has to prove it in games.
The emergence of the backups was one of the biggest developments this offseason, with several players stepping up and looking ready to be a big part of a rotation. Explosive
Michael Harrison (6-1, 211, So.) is built like Blackmon and showed off some of the same athleticism this offseason with a few nice plays. He caught 14 passes for 135 yard and three scores last year, while, Colton Chelf (5-9, 162, Sr.) is a decent veteran with reliable hands and nice inside ability, catching 11 passes for 200 yards and a score.
The speedy Isaiah Anderson (5-10, 165, Jr.) is a blazer with 4.34 wheels with the talent to be a part of the track team. He caught 12 passes for 216 yards last year, but he has the home-run hitting ability to do far more in a rotation with Anyiam. The expansion of the receiving corps came in the spring with jumbo receiver
Justin Horton (6-3, 240, Jr.) having his best offseason and showing some explosive ability, while
Charlie Moore (6-2, 198, So.) played some last season and was inconsistent catching just three passes for 48 yards and a score. Redshirt freshman
Kevin Johnson (6-0, 186) is another dangerous option on the outside with speed and good hands, emerging as a good performer this offseason.
Watch Out For … Anyaim. He appears to be finally ready to emerge as the talent everyone projected he'd become over the last few years. If he does hit that mark then he makes it that much more difficult on defenses because Blackmon is already a huge responsibility for defensive backfields to handle.
Strength: Blackmon. The Cowboy receiving corps is loaded with talent and experience, but it all revolved around Blackmon, who might go down as the great receiver in the terrific history of OSU receivers. If he can be close to what he was last year, everyone else around him should explode, too.
Weakness: Expectations? OSU has a superstar No. 1 in Blackmon, a strong No. 2 in Cooper, and prospect in Anyiam who might have more talent than anyone else in the corps, and a slew of great young players waiting to show what they can do. Anything less than being the best receiving corps in the nation will probably be a disappointment.
Outlook: The Cowboy passing attack was second in the nation behind Hawaii's air show and was 12th in the country and first in the Big 12 in passing efficiency. With the line back to provide time for Brandon Weeden to bomb away, the terrific group of veteran receivers, led by Blackmon, should be even more effective.
Unit Rating: 10
State of the Unit: All five starters are back from a group that not only led the Big 12 in sacks allowed – and was seventh in the nation, but also did a near-perfect job for the running game. A major strength two years ago, the concern going into last year was the lack of experience. That's hardly a problem now, and if last year's line could be terrific despite losing four starters, this year's fully-jelled group should truly be special.
Joe Wickline, who both Texas and the Dallas Cowboys tried to hire in the winter, is known as one of the best offensive line coaches in the game, and he likes to move his players around and experiment. Meanwhile, at the same time, he likes to cross train his linemen to prepare for all kinds of options from a depth standpoint.
Everything is intact from last season with left tackle Nick Martinez (6-4, 302, Sr.), left guard
Jonathan Rush (6-4, 298, Jr.), center
Grant Garner (6-3, 289, Sr.), right guard Lane Taylor
(6-3, 327, Jr.), and right tackle
Levy Adcock (6-6, 322, Sr.) all expected to be ready for the opener against Louisiana. This crew developed quickly after sitting and learning behind several strong linemen ahead of them, and then it all came together last season. They have an attitude that's this side of ornery with Garner, Rush, and Adcock all capable of practical jokes and keeping their teammates loose. There's also a lot of pride in this group to keep QB Brandon Weeden clean and protected, while dominating in the running game. Adcock could be considered the star, but they're a group that works together.
Martinez stepped in for Russell Okung and was terrific, despite coming in cold with almost no experience. The former JUCO transfer and former tight end was originally brought in to be a guard, but he bulked up while keeping his athleticism and the strength to push defenders around. On the other side, Adcock was a top JUCO transfer who could've gone to Alabama, and he ended up becoming one fo the team's most consistent blockers on the way to First Team All-Big 12 honors.
Rush came back from missing all of 2009 hurt, and he was one of the team's strongest run blockers throughout last year. He came to OSU as an athletic 250-pounder, hit the weights hard, and grew into his frame. Taylor was the one returning starter to last year's line and he's now the most experienced blocker with 24 straight starts. Back at center is Garner, a one-time star prospect who's growing into a terrific leader. Physical and strong, he beats people up.
Wickline has developed a stair step setup with a second team offensive line made up of one senior, two juniors, and two sophomores followed by a third offensive line made up of almost exclusively redshirt freshmen. Junior college transfer
Michael Bowie (6-4, 294, Jr.),
Brandon Webb (6-3, 328, So.), the son of former OU great Terry Webb,
Parker Graham (6-7, 291, So.), and the third Koenig to play on the OSU offensive line,
Daniel Koenig (6-7, 284, RFr.) are all looking to see time to be ready to step in if needed.
Watch Out For … Garner on the center snap. It only gets noticed when it doesn't work, but Garner's ability to hit the shotgun snap flawlessly time and again was an unsung plus. He also showed enough to be considered one of the Big 12's best centers.
Strength: Consistency and versatility. The OSU line works as a group because most of the tackles have played guard and most of the guards have played tackle or center; they all know each other's position. It has been a good way to operate for Wickline and seems to have added to the stability and cohesion in his lines.
Weakness: Raw power. The Cowboy line, unlike recent years, is in an athletic mode. The starting five are all flat-bellied and move so well, but they give up some bulk and power. Short yardage and goal line situations haven't always been solid.
Outlook: There's only one true star up front, Adcock, but this is one of the most consistently productive and most experienced lines in the country. The Cowboy skill players get all the credit and all the spotlight, but this line could be the team's biggest strength – fine, so second biggest behind the receiving corps, The only concern is backup experience. If a slew of big injuries hit, there might be problem with the consistency that gets so much lip service.
Unit Rating: 9
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