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2008 Oklahoma State Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 9, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Oklahoma State Cowboy Offense

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Preview 2008 - Offense


- 2008 CFN Oklahoma State Preview | 2008 OSU Offense

- 2008 OSU Defense | 2008 OSU Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN OSU Preview | 2006 CFN OSU Preview 

What you need to know:
The machine will keep on rolling with little tinkering. There's no reason to mess with success, and with so much returning talent to the nation's seventh best attack, things will be kept as is with QB Zac Robinson leading the way behind a tremendous, deep line that might not have much in the way of star power, but is as effective as any in the nation. There are some question marks at running back and receiver with JUCO transfer Beau Johnson needing to make the ground game explode while Dez Bryant needs to be a strong number one receiver to go along with top pro prospect Brandon Pettigrew at tight end.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Zac Robinson
201-333, 2,824yds, 23 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Zac Robinson
140 carries, 847 yds, 9 TD
Receiving:
Dez Bryant
43 carries, 622 yds, 6 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Zac Robinson
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore WR Damian Davis
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Beau Johnson
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Brandon Pettigrew
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Pettigrew, 2) Robinson, 3) OT Russell Okung
Strength of the offense: Running game, overall speed
Weakness of the offense: Offensive line depth, proven number two receiver

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
This was supposed to be Bobby Reid's team, but junior Zac Robinson came from the backup role and turned into an all-around star completing 60% of his throws for 2,824 yards and 23 touchdowns with nine interceptions, while finishing second on the team with 847 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. At 6-3 and 205 pounds, he has good size, excellent athleticism, and good quickness, and now the former wide receiver should take the offense by the horns and become special. It's as simple as his accuracy. When he was on, like he was against Indiana, Texas and Baylor, the offense was unstoppable, but he struggled against Oklahoma and Kansas. He has to be consistent.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-1, 195-pound sophomore Alex Cate was assumed to be the No. 2 man coming into the season, but he'll have to fight for his job. He's a good passer with a live arm and a sensational high school résumé, throwing for more than 6,000 yards and 74 touchdowns at Cottonwood High in Salt Lake City, and now he's been around long enough to be a decent passer.

Ready to make a statement in the mix is 23-year-old Brandon Weeden, a former New York Yankee who has a nice arm and 6-4, 220-pound size. While he's not Robinson running the ball, he's a decent athlete and he has a tremendous arm. A freshman, he just needs a little bit of time before he's a factor.
 
Watch Out For ... a battle for the number two job. Weeden was good enough this spring to surprise everyone and be a major factor. Cate is a decent backup option, but now all of a sudden, Weeden is a major factor. Neither one will push Robinson for a starting job, but they'll each fight it out for mop up time.
Strength: Accuracy. Robinson might have been inconsistent, but he did a good job in ball security as the season went on. Cate and Weeden have accurate arms and can keep the passing game moving if pressed into service.
Weakness: Backup experience. Cate and Weeden might be nice looking prospects, but neither one can run like Robinson and neither has the overall talent. The backups can be serviceable, but Robinson needs to be into make the good offense unstoppable.
Outlook: Now that Bobby Reid is gone, it's all Robinson's show to run. He was stunningly good when thrown into the fire, and now he has to improve on his consistency while still serving as an occasional rushing threat. Cate and Weeden need to see some live action to be prepared if Robinson, who takes some big hits, goes down. 
Rating: 8

Running Backs

Projected Starters
:
Sophomore Kendall Hunter might not have the jaw-dropping talent of some of the recent OSU backs, but he turned into a valuable No. 2 man last year finishing third on the team with 696 yards with four touchdowns averaging 6.5 yards per carry. While he didn't tear off too many home runs, he was a consistent big play runner who also showed some receiving skills with ten catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. In an early two-game stretch against Troy and Texas Tech, he ran for 238 yards on 30 carries, but he saw his workload decrease as the season went on. At only 5-8 and 18- pounds, he's not going to be a 25-carry-a-game back, but he'll be great in spurts.

OSU doesn't always use a fullback, but  when it does it'll be up to sophomore Bryant Ward to step in. Not all that big at 5-11 and 215 pounds, he'll be used as a receiver and a little bit for his blocking. It'll be a shock if he gets any carries.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Keith Toston was supposed to play a big role last season as a co-No. 1 back after rushing for 631 yards and six touchdowns in 2006, but he only got 38 carries rushing for 190 yards with a touchdown before suffering a knee injury. At 6-1 and 210 pounds he has good power and enough speed to bust through the line, but he needs to get a role back and he needs to be 100% healthy to get back his flash.

Adding more to the rushing mix is star JUCO transfer Beau Johnson, a junior who led Butler County C.C. to a national title by rushing for 288 yards and four touchdowns in the championship game. With good quickness in a 5-11, 210-pound package, he's the workhorse the running game will likely go to as the season goes on. At the very least he'll be a key factor in the rotation.

Watch Out For ... Johnson. The Cowboys aren't afraid to mix up the carries among the backs, but it could be the JUCO transfer who takes over the job once he gets the hang of the offense. Hunter and Toston aren't going to be able to carry the entire workload on a regular basis.
Strength: Quickness. There isn't anyone with Dantrell Savage's wheels, but all three options can cut and move through the hole and all three should be able to come up with a big play from time to time.
Weakness: Durability and a workhorse. If Johnson can't handle it 20 times a game for a stretch, none of the backs will be able to. Savage ran 223 times last season, and Hunter and Toston won't be able to do that.
Outlook: The rushing attack that finished eighth in the nation last year will be effective again thanks to the running skills of QB Zac Robinson, but the backs needs to be more than just along for the ride. It won't necessarily be running back by committee, but Hunter, Toston and Johnson will each see plenty of work. The combination of the three could come close to 2,000 yards if everyone stays healthy.
Rating: 7.5

Receivers

Projected Starters
:
With Adarius Bowman gone, Dez Bryant is the most likely option to become the team's No. 1 option after finishing second on the team with 43 catches for 622 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 14.5 yards per grab, as a true freshman. He stepped up his play in a big way when Bowman got hurt late in the year, highlighted by a nine-catch, 117-yard, two touchdown performance in the bowl win over Indiana, and now the sky's the limit. He's 6-2 and 210 pounds with good deep speed and excellent blocking ability. Now he has to hit more home runs after his biggest catch came from just 39 yards out.

Working as a strong running mate to Bryant will be 6-5, 180-pound sophomore Damian Davis, a deadly deep weapon who made just two catches for 47 yards, but with his height and speed, he showed all spring long that he'll be a top receiver from the start.

Junior DeMarcus Connor hasn't been able to crack the lineup so far, but now he appears to be ready. The 6-1, 200-pounder has seen a little bit of special teams time and has never been a big-time producer, even in high school, but he has the tools to grow into a third option.

The spotlight will be on senior Brandon Pettigrew, a sure-thing NFL prospect who's being talked about as a possible first rounder. With 6-6, 260-pound size, great speed and tremendous hands, he has everything the next level wants. Now he has to be the can't-stop target who can produce no matter what the defense and who's on him. He finished third on the team with 35 catches for 540 yards and four touchdowns averaging 15.4 yards per catch, and while he was consistent, outside of a few plays here and there he wasn't the difference maker he should've been. He had a finger injury this spring, but it's not supposed to be a big deal this fall.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Artrell Woods could be a dangerous target somewhere in the mix, but he has to get over a back injury that kept him out all of last year and all this off-season. He dominated in spring ball last season and has the talent, athleticism, and potential to be the team's best receiver. First he has to come back healthy.

Pushing for time behind Bryant is junior Jeremy Broadway, a 6-0, 195-pound spot starter who caught 13 passes for 125 yards and a touchdowns but was shoved out of the mix with just two catches over the final eight games. He missed all of 2006 with a broken arm and hasn't been able to live up to his prep hype.

Two key redshirt freshmen will be counted on to provide the depth. Josh Cooper and Hubert Anyiam are speedy targets with tremendous upside, but they both need time on the field and they need to prove they can be reliable.

Working behind Pettigrew will be 6-4, 245-pound redshirt freshman Wilson Youman, a star high school defensive player with excellent athleticism and good toughness. He might not be Pettigrew quite yet, but he's a tremendous prospect.
 
Watch Out For ... several young players to try making a big impact. The opportunities will be there for someone to come out of the blue and be the team's new star, but who'll be ready?
Strength: Pettigrew. The senior probably would've been the first tight end taken in the 2008 Draft had he come out early, and he'll certainly be considered in the top 30 next year. OSU has to revolve the passing game around him and let everyone else try to make deep plays.
Weakness: Maturity. This will be a good corps in time, but the there isn't any proven production among the older wide receivers and the top prospects are all sophomores or younger. There isn't a Bowman who'll keep defensive coordinators up at night.
Outlook: It's all about coming up with the big play. OSU recruits to a type getting tall, thin, quick receivers who can stretch the field. Bryant will be excellent and Pettigrew is a star, but several other key players have to produce early on. Damian Davis has to be the home run hitter the coaches expect he can be, and at least one of the redshirt freshmen or new recruits have to surprise early on.
Rating:
6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
6-5, 300-pound junior Russell Okung stepped in as a true freshman and has grown into an all-star on the left side where he has become a tremendous pass protector and strong run blocker. A great athlete for his size, he's been able to handle all type. With good pro potential, he could have a big decision to make at the end of the year if he takes another step forward in his production. With his frame he still has rook to get bigger and stronger.

Back on the right side is 6-6, 290-pound junior Brady Bond, a smart, dependable blocker who missed most of 2006 hurt and became a major factor in 2007. He's not Okung, but he's a strong pass blocker with the strength to step in at guard if needed. A tremendous prospect, he's still improving and still hasn't reached his potential.

6-3, 310-pound sophomore Michael Booker is the one new starter to the front line replacing David Koenig. While he might be the one unknown in the mix, he has the size to shine as a run blocker and has Okung nearby to help out. 

Senior David Washington started 27 straight games before breaking his leg last season. While he still needs time to heal 100%, he's been able to practice and will eventually take back his starting job even though he'll have to fight for it. At 6-3 and 305 pounds, he's a big body in the middle with all-star potential.

6-5, 295-pound senior Steve Denning stepped in at right guard when David Koenig had to move to the left side. The former JUCO transfer turned in a strong season starting the final nine games and showed he could be a reliable, consistent blocker who didn't make many mistakes. While not dominant in any one area, he's reliable.

Projected Top Reserves: Until Washington is ready in the middle, 6-5, 290-pound junior Andrew Lewis will work in the middle and could end up keeping the job. Washington is better, but Lewis is hardly a big step backwards. A good veteran who was excellent in pass protection, he started out at left guard before needing to move to the middle.

On the way is top recruit Andrew Mitchell, a 6-5, 305-pound JUCO transfer who started out his college career as a tight end and moved to tackle where he dominate for Snow CC. A mature junior, he served on a two-year LDS Church mission and got bigger, stronger, and more imposing. He's not going to settle for the backup job at right tackle without a fight.

6-5, 300-pound Jonathan Rush is one of the team's most talented young linemen. Expected to see time as a true freshman, he ended up redshirting, spent the year putting on weight after coming to Stillwater at 250 pounds, and now will be a key backup at left guard behind Michael Booker.
 
Watch Out For ... this to be the best offensive line Oklahoma State might have ever had. With so many returning starters, so much depth, and so much production coming back, there's no reason to expect anything less than greatness.
Strength: Depth. Not only do five starters (depending on the lineups you want to go by) return, but there's depth at every spot. From Mitchell and Trent Perkins at tackle to Rush and Noah Franklin at guard, to all the options at center, the second team would be good enough to start for most teams.
Weakness: Superstar talent. There might be good players all across the line, and Okung will get a cup of coffee at the next level, but is there a bona fide first team all-star to work behind in the clutch? It's nitpicking, but there isn't the star power there is on some other Big 12 lines.
Outlook: The line was great two years ago, and then it took things to another level giving up only 22 sacks, the third fewest in the nation, and paved the way for the nation's eighth best (and Big 12's leading) running game. Now it'll be even better with everyone returning, depth at every spot, and the potential for another dominant season. And here's the scary part; there are only two seniors on the two deep.
Rating: 10