The 2018 season is now thankfully distant in our rear view mirror. But with its passing we were left with many questions about 2019, especially concerning OSU’s offense.
Can Oklahoma State return to the type of offensive juggernaut that will allow it to contend in the Big 12, or are we looking at another rebuild year this fall?
Those answers won’t be revealed for six months or so, but the foundation for what will become one of the more crucial seasons to Mike Gundy’s legacy will be laid starting this week when spring practice in Stillwater kicks off.
So let’s take a look at five questions about OSU’s offense which we should be able to at least start to answer this spring.
1. Who will make hay among the Cowboy Backs?
The Cowboys’ hybrid fullback/tight end position gained a breath of fresh air in 2018 when former quarterback Jelani Woods showed his potential during spot duty in OSU’s passing game.
The 6-foot-7 walking mismatch will be just a redshirt sophomore in 2019 and has the head start at CW1. And with a new OC in Sean Gleeson it’s not even 100 percent clear how much more (or less) that tight end role will be featured in next year’s offense.
But just like with any position, the coaching staff needs to build depth and there are a handful of candidates on the roster now that could compete behind Woods, if not push him for reps.
As far as tight ends go, the two that come to mind are Baron Odom and former NEO transfer Jake Ross. Both are looking at an important spring. The Pokes welcome four-star tight end Grayson Boomer in the summer so if either Ross or Odom want to build their case for fall reps, now is the time.
2. Can Dezmon Jackson solidify his role?
Chuba Hubbard is the prohibitive favorite to replace Justice Hill, but someone will need to step up and take those No. 2 carries from the rest of OSU’s tailback group.
Incoming four-star signee Deondrick Glass may be the sexy name to throw in the mix when he arrives for fall camp, and LD Brown is back with another year of experience, but OSU could use a rusher who is both experienced and a bruised. Enter junior college transfer Dezmon Jackson.
Jackson spent last season showing out at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas where he chewed up 1,216 yards and rushed for 13 scores on an impressive 7.5 yards per try. With his experience and D-I ready body (6 foot and 203 pounds), Jackson could be a valuable depth piece in OSU’s backfield, and that starts this spring.
3. Any interesting offensive formations in the spring game?
We won’t likely witness any eye-popping revelations during OSU’s spring game. In a culture of head coaches that like to play their cards close the chest, Mike Gundy is downright paranoid.
But Sean Gleeson’s use of formations, even in whatever watered-down offense the Cowboys display, will be one of the intriguing bullet points for what is normally a mostly mundane springtime exhibition.
4. Which young wideout claims our attention?
Practice field buzz and spring game MVPs don’t always translate to meaningful reps in the fall, but OSU has a slew of young receivers and plenty of targets to replace with Tyron Johnson leaving early for the NFL. Who’s going to step up?
There’s Braydon Johnson, the touted speedster. C.J. Moore is an elite-level prospect coming off of a reshirt year. LC Greenwood saw the field sparingly as a redshirt freshman and didn’t record any stats. But at 6-3, he could be an outside threat. And far from least is junior college transfer Patrick McKaufman, who is coming off of injury, but should be the most game-ready, intriguing weapon in OSU’s passing game arsenal.
All will have their chance to make plays. But if one rises above the rest, he could be a in line for big time targets this fall.
5. Will Spencer Sanders take the early reins?
Spencer Sanders should be the starting QB by next fall. He’s got the highest upside. He’s now been in the system for a year. And traditional wisdom would lead you to think that Gundy and Co. prefer to start building the program around a franchise QB instead of depending upon another lame duck passer, because that’s basically what Dru Brown represents.
But as of this spring, it’s a level playing field in the QB room, and it would be nice to see someone step up and distinguish himself. It would be really nice for OSU’s program, both in the immediate future and moving forward, if that someone was Spencer Sanders.