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Gundy Compares ’17 Cowboys To Historic 2011 Squad



Since 2011 when the Oklahoma State football team was absolutely magical, comparisons to that time have been few to none from coach Mike Gundy, but he did it on Monday.

It’s understandable why Gundy wouldn’t like to make the comparison, especially in the past few years. The ’11 Cowboys finished No. 3 in the nation, and as everyone knows, were up to No. 2 before their trip to Ames, Iowa.

That team had one of the best statistical offenses in college football history. That team produced NFL pros including Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, Joseph Randle and Justin Gilbert.

But let’s blow your mind and show you why this year’s is the most qualified comparison yet.

*Just a reminder: Mason Rudolph and James Washington returned for their senior seasons, and Justice Hill will be a sophomore in 2017.

As a lot of media have recognized, OSU should be one of the best teams in college football. Gundy certainly notices the potential as well as the similarities.

“We were a little more experienced then at the running back spot with Joe Randle,” Gundy said. “Justice is a good player, but obviously not as experienced as Joe. Had a group of wideouts then, and we had Blackmon, who Washington could be comparable to him either way arguably.”

Hill has more than double the reps than Randle had in 2010, and Blackmon’s stats were far better than Washington’s last year. But this year’s receiver corps is likely far superior to the 2011 group.

Here are the receiving stats from 2011 and 2016:

Add in Marcell Ateman, Tyron Johnson, Tylan Wallace and others, let’s get real: This will be the greatest group of receivers ever at OSU.

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said all credit goes to receivers coach Kasey Dunn, who not only recruited so much skill, but also has developed it into such a cohesive, close group.

“I don’t know how easy it is to have that much talent in a room but yet get those guys geared and focused on one goal,” Yurcich said.

More good news is that the ’17 team might be better on defense, Gundy said.

Last season’s defense will likely put the ’17 group to sleep after OSU lost Jordan Sterns, Vincent Taylor, Jordan Burton, Devante Averette, Ashton Lampkin and Motekiai Maile, but Gundy is probably right. When the Cowboys were fighting for their spot in the national title game in 2011, the only problem people had was they didn’t play very good defense.

The ’11 OSU scoring defense was seventh-worst in the Big 12 at a time when the conference was known for poor defending. Last year, the Cowboys’ scoring defense finished third in a much-improved defensive conference. You have to figure production won’t fall off four spots in the conference.

2011 wasn’t the best defensive year, but that group was good a forcing turnovers, Gundy said. In fact, OSU led the nation in turnover margin at 1.62 per game.

“(That) allowed us to get more opportunities, and then we’d get in a track meet,” Gundy said. “And we could outscore you.”

The positive about the ’17 defense is depth, particularly along the defensive line, Gundy said. There are nine defensive linemen who power clean over 315 pounds, bench more than 350 – five of which can do over 400, and nine who can squat above 450 pounds.

Read that again.

“I think we’re back into that role that we had where we can play a pretty solid 2-deep and keep those guys fresh,” Gundy said. “In this league, your defense gets beat up in November. We got the best basketball league in the country, but nobody knows it because they beat each other up for two months. That’s what happens to defensive guys.”

They just have to find a couple of cornerbacks who can be trusted and can play immediately, he said. Throw in a punter and a quarterback who will probably be tops in the nation at their positions, and you might have something special.

“We talk about that, the strategy based on our personnel is and what we think we can do in all three phases,” Gundy said. “So there are a lot of similarities.

“I hope it turns out that way.”

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