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Fast 40 countdown: Oklahoma State Cowboys

August 30, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Last season: 11-2, 9th in the MRI

The good: Nine starters from last year's high powered offense return, including the entire offensive line. It would be hard to beat the performance that the line put up last year. The Cowboys surrendered just 10 sacks and cleared the way for 520 yards of offense per game.

But Brandon Weeden is back as the quarterback. He will be working in a new scheme, but only one of his main targets from last season has left. And that means Justin Blackmon will again be going for the deep ball and giving defenses headaches.

The bad: This is a long list. First Dana Holgorsen is gone, which means the high-powered offensive scheme is gone too. What could have been Oklahoma State's main advantage -- the returning quarterback and line -- might not be used as effectively in the new scheme.

Then there is the schedule which despite bringing Oklahoma to town, is brtual. The Cowboys travel to all three top Texas schools, and have a trip to Missouri. They also go to Tulsa, who also have a powerful offense, and will be better prepared for the Cowboys than last season. Just ask Oklahoma about how Tulsa finds ways to make life miserable for its instate opponents.

The defense is also somewhat depleted after last season. While the defensive backfield should be strong, the Cowboys have just two returning starters among the front seven. There is a good deal of experience among the players, but it is a very different group who will be tasked with stopping the run.

For a team that looks great on paper, there are an awful lot of questions going into a very difficult schedule (top 20 in the country, and no FCS opponents).

Best name: Nehemiah Mundy

Trending: Down - There are a lot of people high on Oklahoma State's chances this year thanks to the return of Weeden and Blackmon. But there are a lot of question on how the new offense will run, plus how the defense will be up front. That makes it hard to see Oklahoma State being able to pull of the upsets it will need to on the road, if it wants to compete for the conference title. The losses could stack up sending Oklahoma State tumbling in the national and computer rankings. This looks like an experienced team ready to make a big push, but it feels like a disappointing season is on the way. Look for the Cowboys at the bottom of the MRI top 25, or off the list entirely for most of the year.


Posted August 30, 2011 11:35 AM

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