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Boone: What I Love (and Hate) About OSU Headed into 2017



Sunday marked day one of the start of fall camp for OSU, so before we get into the weeds of who will start at right guard and which wide receiver will benefit least from OSU’s 40-deep talent group, let’s take a step back from a higher level and discuss some things that I feel are the most (and least) pressing for OSU to address before the season.

Similar to our five things series where we all talked about the five main storylines we’re interested in following, I’ll outline the things I love and hate about this team and define some of the biggest question marks as camp kicks off this week.

Love: The Mike Gundy swagger

You know that feeling when you’ve got the slickest lawn mower on the block and you try to play it cool when you’re cutting the grass but you totally know everyone is envying your ride because it has a 60-inch deck and two cupholders? That’s kind of how I imagine Mike Gundy right now with his team. He’s certainly got some team issues to shore up – namely cornerback, backup running back and backup quarterback – but he remains the most confident coach in the country. He’s got a senior quarterback, an All-American tailback, and the deepest receiving corps this side of the Mississippi. Why wouldn’t he flaunt his mullet around like his butch wax don’t stink?

Hate: Confidence in OSU’s young cornerbacks versus actual experience

Despite moving both Darius Curry and Ramon Richards to safety, Glenn Spencer remains confident – almost too confident – in the players he’s likely to roll out on the first snap of the season.

Don’t get me wrong: I love that a coach is confident in his players. But considering that OSU is likely to start a transfer (Adrian Baker) and a guy with little to no experience at corner at this level (Madre Harper, Rodarius Williams or A.J. Green), I’m curious to see if this is real confidence or coach-speak. Going against the best receiving corps in the country on a daily basis in practice can’t hurt.

Love: Depth at linebacker

Heck, I like the entire front line — from defensive end, to defensive tackle, to linebacker, I think OSU is firm. Linebacker is what I love because I totally trust where they’re at and the personnel expected to contribute.

With Chad Whitener holding things down in the middle, I think the bunch has plenty room to grow around him. I think junior college transfer Patrick Macon makes an impact at middle linebacker. I think Calvin Bundage takes a step forward at star linebacker. And I love Kenneth Edison-McGruder’s move from safety to linebacker. He’s a big hitter and I think he’ll make a Josh Furman-esque impact as a pass rusher.

Add in Gyasi Akem, Kirk Tucker, Justin Phillips (who should start), and Kevin Henry, and you’ve got one of the deepest position groups from top to bottom on the team. This group is equipped to go eight deep.

Hate: Uncertainty behind Justice Hill

Look, we all know Justice Hill is the dude. But we also know that behind him is a bunch of unproven talent — Chuba Hubbard, J.D. King, LD Brown — who haven’t contributed at the Division I level.

Yes, Jeff Carr is in the mix. But beyond him and Hill, there are three completely inexperienced players who will be heavily relied on in 2017.

Are we comfortable with Chuba Hubbard and J.D. King — two true freshmen — toting the rock a combined 15 to 20 times per game? Because at this point, I think that might be where we’re headed. Regardless of the buzz surrounding their recruitment and their talent that had plenty of other schools clamoring to land them as recruits, that’s a lot of trust in two 18-year-olds. Especially for a team that has CFP playoff aspirations.


Love: OSU’s graduate transfer additions

Where would OSU be had it not added Cal left tackle Aaron Cochran or Clemson cornerback Adrian Baker? Those are questions that might have Gundy itching his mullet for days.

Seriously, OSU’s two biggest concerns for 2017 were replacing Victor Salako at left tackle, and replacing Ashton Lampkin and Lenzy Pipkins at corner. With Cochran and Baker, OSU now has two experienced players who I think will start for the Cowboys from day one. And the best part: Cochran has proven he’s willing to work to earn his stripes.

“He is a really big, good-looking athlete,” Mike Gundy said of the 6-foot-8 big man earlier this week. “What I’ve been most impressed with about Aaron is – I said this a few months ago – when he visited here he weighed about 365 pounds. We told him then that if he decided to come to Oklahoma State he was really going to have to trim down because of the style of offense that we play. When he came back he weighed in at 342 pounds and I think he’s 332 today. That tells me that football is important to him, the team is important to him and that he has a great attitude. We’ve got four to five guys coming back that are pretty experienced in our opinion. He has started over 20 games in the Pac-12 and so he does have some experience playing at this level and that is an area where he can really help us.”

Hate: The backup quarterback race

OSU is in a rather precarious situation when it comes to the backup quarterback competition. Walk-on Taylor Cornelius is a solid option, and so too is Keondre Wudtee. But if Cornelius wins it, would the second-year Wudtee consider a transfer? I have no reason to think he would. But that’s a potential risk in tabbing the backup QB this fall.

Maybe Wudtee wouldn’t transfer regardless of whether he wins the job or not, but that’s an actual conversation that most players in his same spot would likely have. So there’s a nuance to the decision that carries some risk that I don’t much like.

The best way to sort all this out is on the field, but it is a bit concerning that there still doesn’t seem t0 be a clear-cut option at QB2.

Whoever wins the job will likely know within the next two weeks, as Gundy has made it clear he wants to get that competition out of the way early to distribute practice reps accordingly.

“You would like to do it within two weeks, but I don’t have think a timetable really fits in this criteria because it has to be the right guy,” Gundy said on Sunday. “They’re all going to get a lot of reps like you saw today. Each of them will get a lot of work and somebody is going to have to go out and make some plays because once we get into the final 10 practices before the game there is not enough reps to share at that position.”

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