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Fleming’s Five Biggest Takeaways from the 2017 Oklahoma State Season



We learned many things from watching Oklahoma State during 2017, with some more surprising as others. OSU fans expected, for example, James Washington to have another spectacular season, which he did. But not many fans expected the offense to fail in two game-winning drive scenarios. The list goes on and on, but here are the five biggest things we came away with from the regular season.

1. This team was over-romanticized

Cowboy fans headed into the season thinking this would be the team to nab a spot in the CFB Playoff. Although OSU was good in 2017, expectations for the team, and for players like Mason Rudolph, were unrealistically high. Rudolph is a good quarterback, but people expected him to be perfect. The team had similar expectations. Although 9-3 is a good record for most teams, it’s a disappointing one for the Cowboys after all the hype they had entering the season.

2. The defense is stuck in a catch-22

The defense can’t rely on man coverage because they’re weak at corner but when they play zone they let offenses pick them apart. That’s the dilemma defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer finds himself in.

Obviously, this is an oversimplification, and there are other variables that affect the play of the secondary, but it’s enough to get the idea. Spencer was smart to use coverages that put the deep responsibilities on the safeties so the corners can’t get burned, but that doesn’t mean you have to play 10 yards off every play. Barring an unexpected improvement or change in 2018, expect the same dilemma to continue.

3. Players can regress

OSU punter Zach Sinor was one of the Cowboys’ best weapons in 2016, but he wasn’t nearly as effective in 2017. The junior had trouble pinning teams deep in their own territory, which was something he excelled at last year. Ironically, he averaged the highest yards per punt of his career in 2017. Hopefully he passes on another Heisman campaign and bounces back for his final year.

4. OSU will be strong at RB for a long time

Sophomore Justice Hill has once again rushed for over 1,000 yards this season, but the big surprise was players like J.D. King and LD Brown stepping up as backups. King, specifically, shined against West Virginia with over 170 total yards and two touchdowns. With Chuba Hubbard ready for next season as a redshirt freshman, OSU won’t have to worry about talent at running back for a while.

5. New Gundy is better Gundy

This year, head coach Mike Gundy seemed looser from the start of the offseason. You could tell there was something different about him with the media, with the players and with his overall demeanor. It felt like he was always in the national media for things like the mullet, the pet donkey and the shirtlessness at Homecoming and Hoops.

Gundy has truly become comfortable in his own skin (literally, too). And it shows on the field. Many fans criticized him last season for being overly conservative in 2016, especially after the Cowboys ran out the clock before halftime against Kansas State and Oklahoma. But this season was different. OSU looked far from conservative against OU this year, for example, and they went for it on fourth down four times.

Now he’s saying he’s not afraid to play a true freshman at QB, even without the benefit of early enrollment. Who knows what stunts he’ll pull in 2018, but it’ll make next season that much more intriguing.

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