If you were to tell someone you lost to Texas and Oklahoma last year, not many would frown in disgust. And, Nebraska turned out to be pretty good so losing to them, especially in the home-opener wasn't bad. And, even losing to Ole Miss at the end of the college football year wasn't anything to sneeze at because they had golden boy, Eli Manning.
Ok, enough waxing nostalgic and you can bet head coach Les Miles isn't. Actually, he's probably just starting to dry the tears.
Tears of loss as his starting QB is gone, his starting running back is gone and Mr. All-everything and a bag of chips, Rashaun Woods, well, he's gone to.
One of the most potent three-man offenses in the country just went and graduated leaving coach Miles talking to the media in Kansas City about what's his life going to be like, post that talented triumvirate. Considering the fact that the Cowboys did have a decent overall year, the fact that their projected third in their division of the conference was of particular interest. "I don't think that rankings have ever really bothered us." Miles stated. "If we had always played to how we were ranked or expected to finish, we would not have had the success that we've had."
"I think our guys have an increased ambition and a want to continue the achievement within our program and I think those expectations are good and strong. So, we'll take to the field in confidence that if we play the solid football we are capable, we can win."
It's ironic with what Oklahoma State lost if you look at the other side of the ball, that's what they are bringing back in bunches. 8 players returning with starting experience will make a more confident bunch out of the Cowboys in halting the offenses they face. It's not something they were bad at last year either, but part of their comfort goes back to the help they had with Fields, Bell and Woods.
It will be yet another Woods that will try to help the offense in projected starting QB, Donovan Woods.
The brother of departed Rashaun has thrown exactly zero passes in actual games, but Miles maintained that currently, he's the guy to beat. And while there's more experience proportionately, OSU still isn't heavy on actual carries in the backfield, senior Seymore Shaw carrying the ball a total of 147 times during his career with Oklahoma State.
Also and let's face it, if Shaw was going to be that dependable, the Senior wouldn't be replacing anyone, rather he would be coming back to start yet again.
Oh yes, Rashaun Woods. How do you replace Rashaun Woods?
You don't. Anyone else they have right now is going to be a step down, (sorry D'juan (Rashaun's other brother), no offense)………period.
There's just no way around this and even an experienced offensive line like they have coming back can't change the fact that this unit has to have time to learn.
How much time is the question. You can't expect out of this offense what last year's did. That would be almost asinine. The great news for the Cowboys though is that their first three conference games are against teams that we have ranked below where OSU is now, and two of them are at home.
Next though comes a three-game murderer's row with Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas to play consecutively and all but Oklahoma are outside of their friendly confines.
By that point, you are going to know what you are getting with this year's version of the Oklahoma State Cowboys. And realistically, they might be a little better than where I have them ranked. I just have a very hard time seeing how a team can replace three bonafide college studs in one year and have at least the same success.
I say they drop one more game than they did last year at some point during the season, putting them not at a horrible, but for them definitely disappointing finish in the bottom half of the Big XII.
Steve Ryan can be reached at SteveRyan@bigredreport.com or 402-730-5619