Season Preview: Oklahoma State

Our season preview of Florida State's first opponent, Oklahoma State.

We start off our season preview series with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Last season the Cowboys finished with a 10-3 record including dominating wins over Texas and eventual Big 12 champion Baylor, the latter of which involved holding the high-powered Bears offense to only 17 points. They finished the season with a loss in the Bedlam game to Oklahoma and then a Cotton Bowl loss to Missouri—each of which involved snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. This was a team that was three plays away from being 12–1 last year.

Florida State and Oklahoma State last played in 1985 in the Gator Bowl. The Seminoles defeated the Cowboys 34-23 behind Tony Smith’s 201 rushing yards. A young Deion Sanders had an interception in that game. The 1978 meeting between Florida State and Oklahoma State is significant for another reason: it was the first time the Chief Osceola and Renegade led the team onto the field.


Breaking Down the Cowboys’ Schedule


Win Shares

Aug 30: Florida State

.1

Sep 6: Missouri State

1

Sep 13: TX-San Antonio

.9

Sep 25: Texas Tech

.65

Oct 4: Iowa State

.71

Oct 11: at Kansas

.67

Oct 18: at TCU

.56

Oct 25: West Virginia

.75

Nov 1: at Kansas State

.52

Nov 15: Texas

.46

Nov 22: at Baylor

.3

Dec 6: at Oklahoma

.2

Overall

6.82

Starting off the season with the No.1 team in the country is never easy, but doing it with only nine returning starters is a nightmare. Oklahoma State lost a staggering 28 seniors from last year, making them unusually young in this game. The rest of September should give the Pokes a chance to get their feet back on the ground with two games against patsies.

October will be the make-or-break month for the Cowboys with winnable games against Iowa State, Kansas, TCU, and West Virginia; OSU will need to take all four of them if they want any chance of winning the conference.

The end of the season for Oklahoma State would be a tough road for any team in the country: at Kansas State before a home date against Texas and then road games against two Top 10 preseason teams. Breaking even against that slate would be good.

The Simplified Football formula has seven wins the most likely result this season, with six wins also a real possibility. The Pokes simply don’t have much margin for error with their schedule and will have to mature quickly and pull a couple upsets for better results, as they will be significant underdogs against Florida State, Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma.

Breaking Down the Offense


Projected Starters


Quarterback

J.W. Walsh

Running back

Desmond Roland

Full Back

Jeremy Seaton

Wide Receiver

Jhajaun Seales

Wide Receiver

Marcell Ateman

Wide Receiver

Brandon Sheppard

Left Tackle

Devin Davis

Left Guard

Chris Grisbhy

Center

Paul Lewis

Right Guard

Zac Veatch

Right Tackle

Daniel Koenig

Who to Watch

RB Desmond Roland: Roland was the leading rusher last season for the Cowboys with 811 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Cowboys will need him to be even more productive this season with the lack of elite quarterback play.

RB Tyreek Hill: Hill is one of the fastest players in the NCAA and is a track superstar. Seminole fans will remember him as he took an official to Florida State before deciding upon the Cowboys last season. Look for head coach Mike Gundy to have special packages built into the offense just for him, as his speed gives OSU their best opportunities for big plays. Hill will also be featured as a returner on special teams and will force the Seminole coverage squads to be better than they were last year.


What Needs to Improve

The Quarterbacks: Walsh, Daxx Garman, and Freshman Mason Rudolph are all fighting for the starting job. Walsh started five games last season, but eventually lost the starting job to Clint Chelf. This year he still hasn’t been able to take full hold of the job, and as of the Monday before the Florida State game a starter hasn’t been named.


Overall

Oklahoma State is an Air Raid based spread team with a lot of Rich Rodriguez-style spread-to-run option packages worked into the offense. A large percentage of their neutral down (1st & 10, 2nd & medium, etc.) plays involve packaged concepts where the QB reads the box, such as the stick-draw concept or packaging an inside zone read with the bubble screen. They have also thrived on isolating a coverage player to one side and winning that matchup for big plays, thanks to a procession of outstanding receivers. It’s not clear, however, they have one of those guys on the current roster, and that type of matchup will be tough to win against FSU’s secondary.


The Cowboys dropped a bit last season in the F/+ offensive rankings, falling to 26th from 12th in 2012. This season could see an even bigger drop with the loss of the starting quarterback, three of the top five receivers including the top two, and the starting interior linemen from last season. They will need to lean on the running game with Roland and Hill and hope that whoever wins the quarterback job improves. An interesting note is that no tight end on last year’s roster caught a pass.


Breaking Down the Defense


Projected Starters


Defensive End

Jimmy Bean

Defensive Tackle

James Castleman

Defensive Tackle

Ofa Hautau

Defensive End

Emmanuel Ogbah

Outisde Linebacker

Kris Catlin

Middle Linebacker

Ryan Simmons

Outside Linebacker

Devante Averette

Corner

Kevin Peterson

Strong Safety

Deric Robertson

Free Safety

Jordan Sterns

Corner

Ashton Lampkin


Who to Watch

DE Jimmy Bean: Bean led the team in sacks last season with 5 and was second in tackles for loss with 10. Bean is very gifted athletically, but still needs to improve his technique and in the mental aspect of the game.


Weaknesses

The Cornerbacks: The Cowboys are replacing both of starting corners from last season, including Justin Gilbert, arguably the best cornerback in college football last season. Lampkin and Peterson both played last season, but both will be stepping into the starting role this season. They do, however, have decent size (5’11) and have good athleticism at the position.


Overall

The Oklahoma State defense was fantastic last season, finishing 6th in the F/+ defensive rankings despite being paired with an uptempo spread offense. They obviously spend most of their time defending spread offenses in the Big 12 and are thus really a nickel-based team. Schematically, they mix coverages a good bit while tending to maintain deep safety help and feature a lot of presnap movement to disguise coverages. They’ve typically given up more yardage than most solid defenses but have lived on turnovers and good red zone defense. It’s harder to project what this defense will look like in 2014, however, due to the loss of eight starters, including the entire secondary, two linebackers, and two defensive linemen. There is, however, good reason to expect the Oklahoma State defensive line to be a strength this year, led by a pair of very good defensive tackles.


Breaking Down the Special Teams


Projected Starters


Kicker

Ben Grogan

Punter

Kip Smith

Punt Returner

David Glidden

Kick Returner

Roland Desmond

Tyreek Hill

Potential Weakness

K Ben Grogan: Last season Grogan made just 11 of 18 field goals and 67 of 68 extra points.


How They Match Up With FSU

To put it bluntly, they probably don’t match up all that well in 2014, particularly in the first game of the season. Oklahoma State makes a living spreading teams out and taking advantage of individual matchups, but the Florida State defense is built to stop exactly that. Walsh is likely to be named the starting quarterback for the Cowboys, but his play remains a question mark after 2013.

The Florida State offense is probably not the ideal opener for a team with eight new defensive starters, and Jameis Winston is surely looking forward to facing a young secondary starting together for the first time. Oklahoma State’s best unit is probably its defensive line, but it faces a Florida State offensive line that has combined to start 113 games may be the best in the country. Expect the Seminoles to come out firing and jump on the Cowboys early before cruising to a dominant opening win.


Wayne’s Prediction: 42–10 (Win Probability: 95%)

Jason’s Prediction: 51–16 (Win Probability: 95%)



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