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2009 Oklahoma State Preview - Offense
Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant
Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 16, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Oklahoma State Cowboy Offense

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Preview 2009 - Offense


- 2009 CFN Oklahoma State Preview | 2009 OSU Offense
- 2009 OSU Defense | 2009 OSU Depth Chart
- 2008 OSU Preview | 2007 OSU Preview | 2006 OSU Preview 
 

What you need to know: After finishing seventh in the nation in total offense two years ago, the OSU offensive machine was even better finishing sixth in the country averaging 488 yards and 41 points per game. Possibly the nation's most balanced and efficient attack, there are four superstars to build around in QB Zac Robinson, WR Dez Bryant, OT Russell Okung, and RB Kendall Hunter, with Bryant and Hunter likely to be among the top ten players taken in the 2010 NFL Draft. There's a little work to be done on a line that was dominant throughout last year, but there are good options at guard. A No. 2 receiver has to emerge and the dream season would likely go kaput if Robinson got hurt, but there's depth across the board and the talent is in place for the offense to be even more special.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Zac Robinson
204-314, 3,064 yds, 25 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Kendall Hunter
2441 carries, 1,555 yds, 16
Receiving:
Dez Bryant
87 catches, 1,480 yds, 19 TD

Star of the offense: Junior WR Dez Bryant
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore OG Jonathan Rush
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Justin Blackmon
Best pro prospect: Bryant
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bryant, 2) OT Russell Okung, 3) QB Zac Robinson
Strength of the offense: Talent, Production
Weakness of the offense: Proven No. 2 Receiver, Proven Guards

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
Senior Zac Robinson was a out of the spotlight compared to Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, and the rest of the Big 12 superstar quarterback, but he was as good as any of them finishing fifth in the nation in passing efficiency and 18th in total offense. Not only did he throw for 3,064 yards and 25 touchdowns, but he ran for 562 yards and eight scores, too. The one issue is with interceptions, spreading out ten over the course of the season with one in each of the last four regular season games and two against Oregon. He makes up for his mistakes with tremendous athleticism in a 6-3, 220-pound frame. With a good arm and his mobility, there are some scouts that think he's the best NFL quarterback prospect in the Big 12, but he has to be more consistent to make it happen, and he needs to come up bigger against the top teams.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Alex Cate was a big-time recruit out of Salt Lake City after throwing for more than 6,000 yards and 74 touchdowns in high school. However, he hasn't been able to see much action completing 4-of-5 passes for 56 yards while rushing for a score. He's only 6-1 and 200 pounds, but he has a live arm and can make things happen on the move.

It was all there for sophomore Brandon Weeden to take over the No. 2 job after a strong spring, but he struggled in the final scrimmage and things are put on hold going into the fall. The 24-year-old former pitcher in the New York Yankee farm system has a good arm and 6-4, 215-pound size, but he hasn't seen any real action, completing just 1-of-3 passes against Missouri State. He's a decent athlete, but he's not the best runner compared to Robinson and Cate.
 
Watch Out For ... an ongoing battle for the No. 2 job. It's year two in the fight between Cate and Weeden for the backup gig, and while the coaching staff would like to see Weeden take the next step forward, mostly because of his size and maturity, but he can't seem to push out Cate. Call them the co-No. 2s throughout the season.
Strength: Veterans. The Bobby Reid experience is well in the past; this is Robinson's offense. Weeden and Cate have each seen plenty of practice time in the system over the last two years and each are as seasoned as backups can be. However ...
Weakness: Backup experience. Cate and Weeden might seem like they're ready to go, but they haven't seen enough game action to be counted on if absolutely needed. Oklahoma State can win with either one, but Robinson could be the difference between being really good and winning the Big 12 title.
Outlook: Robinson is one of the nation's best quarterbacks and will finally start being talked about in the same category as Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford. He's a total offense star who's ultra-efficient, but now he needs to use his experience to cut down on his interceptions. Cate and Weeden need as much game time as possible. 
Rating: 9.5


Running Backs


Projected Starters
:
Junior Kendall Hunter followed up a nice 696-yard, ten touchdown season by turning in one of the best seasons of any runner in America. Not only did he rush for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns, while catching 22 passes for 198 yards and a score, but he was tremendously consistent. He ran for 90 yards or more in 11 games before being held to 84 yards by Oklahoma and 37 against Oregon. At 5-8 and 190 pounds, he's not all that big and he's not a blazer, he rips off yards in chunks, is great at getting through the hole, and is ultra-reliable as both a workhorse runner and a receiver.

OSU doesn't always use a fullback, but when it does it'll once again be up to junior Bryant Ward after he was a spot-starter in 13 games. While he's not huge at 5-11 and 225 pounds, and he'll almost never get the ball, getting one carry for a one-yard score last year, but he's a great blocker and is solid in pass protection and on special teams. 

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Keith Toston has been a terrific running mate with 631 yards and six scores as a freshman and 686 yards and eight scores last year. He had to fight through a knee injury in 2007, but he came back healthy and was a great option behind Hunter averaging 6.7 yards per carry with 100-yard days against Missouri State and Troy. At 6-0 and 205 pounds he brings a bit more power than Hunter and is great when he gets room to roam.

Beau Johnson came in from the JUCO ranks, after leading Butler County CC to a national title by rushing for 288 yards and four scores in the championship game, and ran for 357 yards and three touchdowns in mop-up duty. At 5-11 and 210 pounds he a compact speedster who can help take away some of the load in more meaningful action.

While there might not be a place for him this year, 6-2, 225-pound freshman Dexter Pratt has all the tools to eventually become a star back. All but locked up at LSU, he changed his mind at the last second and decided to bring his size and 4.48 speed to the Cowboys. He's the total package who might be held out for a year with so many other great runners, but he should eventually be special.

Watch Out For ... more of the same. Why mess with what works? Hunter is the star, Toston can step in at any time and run for 100 yards, and there are more talented backs waiting in the wings. Throw in QB Zac Robinson in the rushing equation and OSU will keep on rolling.
Strength: Big yards. Hunter averaged 6.5 yards per carry, Toston averaged 6.7, and Johnson averaged 6.2. The line is great at opening up holes for the quick backs to get through, and there will be big runs after big runs again.
Weakness: The loss of two starters off the line. It's nitpicking for a loaded backfield and a running game that finished eight in the nation. It was a chicken and egg scenario; was the ground game great because of the line, or did the backs make the line look great? Both, and now the front five will be without two key starters in center David Washington and guard Steve Denning.
Outlook: After finishing eighth in the nation in rushing two years in a row, it'll be a stunner if OSU isn't in the top ten again as long as QB Zac Robinson is healthy. The backfield is loaded with talented runner with Hunter an All-American, Toston a fantastic No. 2. and more talent on the way from a strong recruiting class. Durability has been a problem in the past, but there are too many options to worry much about one injury, even to Hunter.
Rating: 9.5

Receivers

Projected Starters
:
Who was going to replace Adarius Bowman? That was the big question mark going into last season, and then junior Dez Bryant went from being a rising star to, arguably, the nation's best receiver. At 6-2 and 215 pounds he has good size, and he plays even bigger with tremendous leaping ability and good hands. He has the speed to go along with the size hitting home runs from all over the field averaging 17 yards per catch. The knock on him was his inability to come up with big games against the top teams, catching three touchdowns against Houston, Troy, and Texas A&M, and four scores against Iowa State. And then he showed up big time against Oklahoma catching six passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns and 13 catches for 167 yards and a score against Oregon. On the year he made 87 grabs for 1,480 yard and 19 touchdowns, and now the spotlight will be on with top five draft pick talent if he can stay healthy. Dinged up at times throughout last year, he was out this spring getting his knee worked on.

Needing to benefit from all the attention paid to Bryant on the other side will be senior DeMarcus Conner, a 6-1, 210-pounder has always been a work in progress and has always been more vital on special teams and as a blocking receiver, but he's been around long enough to start to do more. He started every game last year but caught just three passes for 32 yards.

6-1, 195-pound redshirt freshman Justin Blackmon could be the star of the future once Bryant's gone. Coming off a great spring, the great athlete and top recruit should be able to stretch the field and be great around the goal line. He has the skills to quickly be a big factor and a breakout performer.

With future NFL star Brandon Pettigrew gone, sophomore Wilson Youman will take over at tight end. A defensive star in high school, he's been a good blocker so far and a reliable spot starter. At 6-5 and 252 pounds he has a big frame and excellent toughness and athleticism. Now he has to become more of a receiver after catching just one pass for four yards against Iowa State.


Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Hubert Anyiam was a superstar recruit in 2007 and started to look the part this spring. The 6-1, 198 pounder caught 60 passes for 1,058 yards and 12 scores as a high school senior, but only came up with three catches for 32 yards last year. He'll find a spot in three and four wide sets and will be the key backup behind Bryant.

5-10, 175-pound redshirt freshman Isaiah Anderson is a good young prospect with phenomenal wheels. With 4.34 speed, he's not just a track star playing football, he's a receiver. Of course it doesn't hurt that he runs track for OSU, and there's plenty of excitement about what he can become.

While Youman is the team's top blocking tight end, sophomore Jamal Mosley might have the best skills for the position. He's like a big wide receiver at 6-4 and 243 pounds and he's not that bad a blocker. He's not the physical player that Youman is, but he's the better athlete and will play a big role in the passing game after catching five passes for 57 yards.
 
Watch Out For ... Anyiam and Anderson seeing starting time sooner than later. Conner isn't going to grow into anything special in his senior year, but Anyiam and Anderson could be fantastic. They're phenomenal athletes with the talent to blow up in single coverage.
Strength: Talented targets. Bryant has the ability to possibly be the No. 1 player in the 2010 NFL Draft, if he chooses to come out early. Blackmon is a rising star, while Anyiam and Anderson have a world of upside.
Weakness: Proven No. 2. The team's second best receiver last year was Pettigrew, and the third best was RB Kendall Hunter. There might be a ton of talent to get excited about, but someone has to step up and show something with defenses putting most of the secondary on Bryant.
Outlook: The OSU passing game is all about the big plays and about efficiency. There's speed and skill to strike from anywhere on the field, and with a superstar in Bryant to be the unstoppable focus to start with, the rest of the talented young targets can grow. The one big issue is Bryant's healthy. Can he stay 100% throughout a season? He couldn't do it last year.
Rating:
8

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
If Dez Bryant isn't the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, it might be senior left tackle Russell Okung. The 6-6, 305-pound junior might have been the first tackle taken in last year's draft had he decided to come out early, and now it's salary drive time. Phenomenal against top-shelf pass rusher, highlighted by the job done against Texas star Brian Orakpo. He's an exceptional athlete who's a sure-thing All-American and the anchor of one of the nation's best lines.

Returning at right tackle is Brady Bond, a 6-7, 295-pound senior who started every game last year has been a rock on the line for 26 straight games. Very smart and very tough, he's fantastic in pass protection and buries people in the running game. While he's not Okung, he's as reliable as they come.

Senior Andrew Lewis started every game at left guard and now will step in and start for David Washington at center. The 6-5, 290-pounder is able to play anywhere on the offensive interior and was great for the running attack all throughout last year. Better in pass protection than most guards, he can do it all and could be in the mix for all-star honors.

With Lewis moving over, sophomore Jonathan Rush will take over at left guard. One of the team's most talented young linemen, he came to Stillwater at 250 pounds and has bulked up to 310 pounds on his 6-5 frame. Expected to become a mauler of a run blocker, he'll benefit in all areas from playing next to Okung.

Taking over for Steve Denning at right guard will be Noah Franklin, a 6-5, 310-pound sophomore who has good athleticism for his size. A promising young player who should grow into the job after being a key reserve for most of last year. He'll grow into the job.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-4, 310-pound sophomore Nick Martinez was a good reserve who'll push for time at left guard. One of the team's strongest linemen, he can push anyone around for the running game, but he's not the best of pass protectors. However, he can step in and produce whenever needed.

Former JUCO transfer Andrew Mitchell saw time in eight games last year and will once again be a reserve behind Bond at right tackle. A superstar for Snow CC, the former tight end went on a two-year LDS Church mission and got bigger and stronger. He'll be 24 when the season starts.

6-4, 320-pound JUCO transfer Anthony Morgan is a superstar recruit who got to school early and will push Franklin for the right guard job. Close to going to Florida out of high school, he had to go to junior college route and went from a good prospect to a phenomenal one. He's too big and too talented to not see time.
 
Watch Out For ... a war for the guard jobs. Morgan and Martinez could easily be the starters and will be strong enough backups to provide a good rotation. The situation is a major plus considering those are the two holes needing to be filled.
Strength: Tackles. Okung, who went from good to special, is the best in America while Bond deserves all-star recognition. Having a mobile quarterback like Zac Robinson helps, but allowing just 16 sacks on the year is still impressive.
Weakness: Proven guards. There might be options for the two open guard spots, but for a line that was so good and so consistent over the last few years, throwing two new starters into the mix might be just enough for the elite line to take a step back.
Outlook: Fantastic over the last few years, the line will be a major strength once again. It won't be as good as last year's line after it had the luxury of all five starters in place for the entire season, but it'll be plenty strong. Okung might be the greatest lineman in school history, and the other four starters are big enough and talented enough to form a formidable front wall.
Rating: 8.5