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Crystal Ball Gazing: The Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Opponent Preview series moves on to Stillwater for the only team that TCU will play twice in the Big 12 slate without setting foot in Fort Worth

Wes Lunt as Sir Not-appearing-in-this-season
Wes Lunt as Sir Not-appearing-in-this-season

Two years removed from their Big 12 Championship season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys will once again hold court for the Frogs in Stillwater this year, due to disingenuous schedule manipulation by Texas A&M that we inherited. The Cowboys had a bit of an up and down season last year, posting the season's worst blowout in their opening 84-0 win over Savannah State only to suffer a sound defeat in week 2 to a middling Arizona team. Then another blowout against an overmatched Sun Belt squad was followed by a screwjob against Texas so bad the league's head of officiating apologized for it. Then the season picked up a bit, as the Cowboys won five of the next six, only dropping a contest to the Big 12 champion Kansas State wildcats. Still things ended with a bit of a thud for the Cowboys as the Oklahoma Sooners pulled out a win in Overtime in the Bedlam game and they ended up dropping the finale to Baylor- which has to be upsetting given that the Bears defense was pretty pathetic last year. The Cowboys struggled with health in the quarterback position last year, starting three different quarterbacks at different points with little dropoff on offense, but the good news for Frog fans is that the QB who beat us has transferred out, so once again a new quarterback will be facing Devonte Fields and the 4-2-5. Let's see how the units may hold up this year.

OSU on Offense

Returning Starters: 7

Three receivers two starting quarterbacks return, meaning that the Cowboys aerial attack should be as dangerous as ever this year, but the real dangerman of the offense in my opinion was running back Joseph Randle who will be playing for a different team of Cowboys this year- the ones located in our very own metroplex. Without him keeping the balance will be the key for the Cowboys on offense this year, as their spread attack doesn't have a Justin Blackmon or Dez Bryant to be the gamebreaker necessary when you can't run the ball efficiently. The Cowboys return two linemen from last year's unit, which was inconsistent in pass protection last year but was a solid run blocking group, so if the TCU defensive line is at full strength for that game it might be able to create a good deal of pressure and stifle the running game that we had such an issue with in the second half of our game last year. The key matchup in our game will be the OSU receivers against the TCU secondary, as without Randle it's a matchup that Oklahoma Stat has to win decisively against Jason Verrett and crew- which doesn't seem like a matchup that State should be too confident in. Expect OSU to not approach the 36 points that they put up last year in the rematch.

OSU on Defense

Returning Starters: 7

Another solid 7 returnees for the Cowboys on defense, which is important for a unit that gave up 30 points or more in half of its games. That resulted in a change of coordinator for the Cowboys as they try to move away from the high risk/high reward system favored by former coordinator Bill Young. Instead the Cowboys are looking to shore up their pass defense and step up their pass rush, which is what every defense in the country would ideally like. To that end, the Cowboys will likely try to step back from their base zone package and play more man to man coverage, which could yield mixed results with a new cornerback in starting roles. It will be up to the safeties, where there is experience returning, to stop the Cowboys from being beaten deep, but with the four receiver sets favored by most of the Big 12 how much they'll be able to bail out an inexperienced cornerback is limited in man to man, so I think the change will be more gradual than new coordinator Glenn Spencer may like. The Cowboys have two solid starters returning at linebacker, but the key (from a TCU perspective) will be the two defensive linemen returning- both big and solid defensive tackles who could make like on the inside difficult for the inexperienced TCU guards. If Casey (or Boykin) are facing consistent pressure up the middle this could be a tough matchup for the Frogs, as Oklahoma State has always thrived on creating turnovers and batting passes down at the line. The good news is Waymon James and company should have success with the zone read and off-tackle runs, which should keep the secondary on their toes in coming up for run support, likely giving TCU a chance to hit some big plays in the passing game.

If you're a glutton for punishment, or are the sort who only likes to watch the first ten minutes of a video, Frogs O' War has the 2012 Oklahoma State game available to watch in full. We're nice like that.

2012: TCU at Oklahoma State (via FrogsOWar)