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Lunt: Five Predictions for the 2017 Season



I think most Oklahoma State fans are in a tough position now, trying to balance hype and excitement with reality. I’ve gone back and forth with some things myself, thinking at times that this team has what it takes and then remembering that this is still Oklahoma State we are talking about. I figured I would hop on the bandwagon and give my five predictions for the 2017 football season.

1. The offense will not meet your expectations

I will add some context here. This is more of a situation where the expectations are out of control vs any disappointment from the offense itself. OSU averaged 38 points/game last season. If you’re able to improve by let’s say 10 percent, that is a massive improvement. That’s around 41-42 points/game, the pulse I get from the fan base is they expect this offense to score 50+ every game, and that’s just not feasible.

OSU is one injury away from potentially being in trouble on the OL. I think they have some depth/talent behind the top five, but almost no one with any playing experience. Pair that with the fact that you don’t really have any all-stars on the OL to begin with, and I think you get some mild disappointment.

Just because you have all-world receivers, doesn’t mean that the OL figured out magically how to pass block. This is a good, not great unit. If they can become great then this prediction will hopefully be 100 percent wrong. Josh Henson is the right guy to take it to the next level.

2. The defense will exceed your expectations

This is a sneaky talented group. I’ve been cautiously optimistic with them all summer. The addition of Kenneth Edison-McGruder paired with Justin Phillips (who is ready to dominate) and Bundage, is one of the most athletic LB units OSU has ever had. Add in Whitener’s experience and you have a pretty solid unit.

This DL is about as deep as OSU has ever had, too. There aren’t any 1st team All-Conference guys more than likely, but overall the player quality and depth is there.
The young CBs are talented and will be better than advertised, especially A.J. Green.

3. The Cowboy Back will take a 1-year hiatus

Not completely, but I feel that it will become more of a specialty player this season, instead of a staple of the offense as in past years. All of the indicators are pointing this way with a logjam within the depth chart at Cowboy Back and no one separating themselves. Add that to the fact that you have to find ways to get more WRs on the field, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see 11 personnel less than 10 percent of snaps in 2017.

I still hope to see Keenan Brown involved in the offense in some capacity in the slot or out wide.

4. OSU will be better with 3-and-outs but worse on 3rd down conversions

OSU went 3 and out on 18 percent of its possessions. A lot of Mike Yurcich’s offense is predicated on rhythm, and most importantly 1st down play success. Each play is a building block onto the next one and if you don’t have success on 1st down you lose options. I expect OSU to have a lot of success on 1st down and be able to snowball that success on future downs due to the pace and matchups we will impose.

OSU was 43 percent on converting 3rd downs in 2016, on 179 attempts which is good for 41st in nation. I think we see less 3rd down opportunities due to more success on 1st and 2nd down. Although due to the loss of Victor Salako (excellent run blocker), Chris Carson (excellent power back) and no established Cowboy Back, I would expect that number to dip some.

5. OSU will finish top 50 in the nation in 3rd down conversions on defense

Fun fact (not really), in 2016 OSU gave up about as many first downs to their opponent as they converted themselves on offense – 308 first downs converted for OSU, 295 first downs given up from opponent. That should be surprising to you given the success the OSU offense had last year — 295 first downs given up was 110th in the nation, not great.

There were a few reasons why OSU was able to overcome this – excellent red zone defense (no points given up 25 percent of red zone trips), turnovers forced (25 TOs forced for 24th in the nation), and Zach Sinor being able to pin people inside the 10 yard line.

Expect OSU to be better on 3rd down defense because of better coverage from their safeties and LBs over the middle at the intermediate levels. This will contribute to the defense getting off the field on more 3rd and 6+ yards type situations.

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