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A Look at OSU’s Position Battles on Offense



With the season opener against Tulsa now days — not weeks — away there are still a couple of questions that need to be answered and depth charts that need to be penciled. We should get answers later this week when OSU releases its official two deep. As the Cowboys head down the stretch of fall camp, here are three position battles on offense that still need to be decided as most of the starters are more or less set.

Backup Quarterback

There was a time not so long ago that Oklahoma State’s backup quarterback was nearly as likely to throw a touchdown in the next seven days as he was not see the field at all. After 2011, Brandon Weeden was off to Cleveland and the Cowboys went through a three-year stretch where it was almost quarterback by committee. J.W. Walsh, Wes Lunt, Clint Chelf. Then in 2014, Daxx Garman stood in as a crash-test dummy behind a porous offensive line before Mason Rudolph gave the redshirt off his back for Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State football program.

Aside from Bedlam in 2015, Rudolph has started every game since and has made everyone forget those “Mike Gundy doesn’t know how to handle his quarterbacks” conversations. But all that can change with the roll of an ankle or the tweak of a knee. Now everyone go knock on your nearest piece of timbered furniture. 

But if the unthinkable were to happen, who takes over? We’ve known since this spring that the competition is a two-man race between redshirt junior Taylor Cornelius and redshirt freshman Keondre Wudtee.

Gundy addressed the competition after last Wednesday’s practice.

“We’re close,” Gundy said. “I don’t know that we’re ready to just say what we’re going to do. We’re adjusting reps. Both guys are getting better, but Taylor has made some strides through maturity and done some things that — I haven’t sat down with the offensive staff — but I know that they’ve increased his reps over the last few days.”

I think it’s probably the Oil Baron’s to lose at this point. But the more interesting question — which we hope never needs an answer — will be what happens if Rudolph has to miss any significant time. Cornelius should be the first in for mop-up duty but if you’re scheming for Texas Tech and know that QB1 isn’t an option, do you go for upside or the safer bet? Cornelius is probably the latter.

Predicted Depth Chart
Name Class Height Weight
1 Mason Rudolph Sr. 6-5 230
2 Taylor Cornelius R-Jr. 6-6 225
3 Keondre Wudtee R-Fr. 6-4 210
4 John Kolar R-So. 6-4 200
5 Jelani Woods Fr. 6-7 235
6 Tracin Wallace Fr. 6-0 175
Backup Running Back

This battle may not be as close to a decision but it’s also less of an urgent need. Mike Gundy has said that he wants to limit Justice Hill to 17-18 carries per game (we’ll see about that) but Nos. 2-4 on the depth chart can be fluid to start the season. Last year, the opening RB depth chart had more or’s than an ACC rowing team. But the Cowboys were able to fill that out — while they felt that out.

One thing is different. Justice Hill had separated himself from the pack before the first lawn chair was unfolded along West Hall of Fame. It doesn’t appear that any one back has done the same, at least not yet. But Mike Gundy seems optimistic.

“Well I like those guys,” Gundy said following OSU’s second scrimmage. “Ja’Ron is running well. King is running well. I thought Chuba played really well today. Carr got in and got a little bit of work. We have a number of guys that should be able to play that position—most of them don’t have any experience—but the good news is that over the next three years, we should be pretty set at that position.”

My guess is that RB2 comes down to Ja’Ron Wilson or J.D. King, for a couple of reasons. First off, they are the two biggest backs and their styles/size would be a much better counter to Justice Hill’s — although last year’s Freshman All-American is up to 195 pounds and has been doing his best to earn that next #BodyByGlass photoshoot.

LD Brown has breakneck speed and some wiggle but his size precludes him from falling into that Chris Carson mold. Plus, Gundy voiced ball-security concerns about the freshman. I do think he has a role in this offense though. The coaching staff knows what they have in Jeff Carr, who has also bulked up, but Gundy has all but relegated him to special spot duty. Chuba Hubbard has world-class speed and may be the best player on the roster some day but the further along we go, I see him as a prime candidate for a redshirt year.

This year’s depth chart may not be cemented before the first three games of the season and that’s okay. Here’s where I see it in Week 1.

Predicted Depth Chart
Name Class Height Weight
1 Justice Hill So. 5-10 195
2 Ja’Ron Wilson R-Fr. 5-10 225
3 J.D. King Fr. 5-11 205
4 LD Brown R-Fr. 5-9 193
5 Jeff Carr Jr. 5-7 190
6 Chuba Hubbard Fr. 6-1 190
Cowboy Back

With the loss of Blake Jarwin and Zac Veatch, Oklahoma State has a lot of unheralded production to replace in 2017. Diminished depth and experience at the hybrid tight end/fullback position has many calling for a decrease in its use. Some are even calling for it to be abandoned altogether. While coaches have alluded to play calling to their strengths (i.e. going four-wide more often), don’t think for a second that the Cowboy Back is on its way out.

And it needs to stay for a couple of reasons. First, it facilitated a running game that was non-existent and as Adam Lunt pointed out, Zac Veatch may be behind only Justice Hill in contributors to Hill’s own success a year ago. Secondly, it’s a great tool. The versatility that the Cowboy Back offers is much too valuable to shelf just because its not as sexy as your best Texas Tech impersonation. That is, unless you don’t feel confident enough in what you have at that position.

Will we see less of the Cowboy Back in 2017? I’d bet money on it. Is Mike Gundy going to make Jason McEndoo a special teams coordinator in the next 2-3 years? Not a chance.

The good news is that Britton Abbott, the former high school quarterback, has shown some things that the coaches like so far. He may be the most well-rounded candidate in the group. Keenen Brown, the former four-star wide receiver probably has the most upside and juco-transfer Sione Finefeuiaki is still grasping the offense but could end up being a solid blocker and the name I’m most likely tweeting in all caps and exclamation points as he takes direct snaps in OSU’s 2018 bowl game.

Predicted Depth Chart
Name Class Height Weight
1 Britton Abbott R-Jr. 6-2 255
2 Keenen Brown R-Jr. 6-3 250
3 Sione Finefeuiaki Jr. 6-0 245
4 Dawson Bassett R-Sr. 6-4 245
5 Baron Odom Fr. 6-4 225

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