It is always important to judge your program based on the competition that you need to beat in order to win championships and make your way into the College Football Playoff.
Oklahoma State has just come through a gauntlet schedule including a Bedlam Big 12 championship game with Oklahoma. The Cowboys went 1-2 in the gauntlet and while winning 10 games is great this program now aspires to win more championships. Here is what I see as pressing needs for the Oklahoma State program.
1. Running Back: Oklahoma showed down the stretch what two great backs, future NFL backs, can do for a team. Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon don't run behind a great offensive line. OU's offensive line is okay, not great, but the play and pla-making ability of Perine and Mixon make that offensive line look a lot better. The OU pair have speed but they are also very strong, have great vision, and combine all the ingredients of a running back you can use to lean you offense on. Oklahoma State has two running backs committed in the 2016 class in Tulsa Washington standout Justice Hill, not a big back but a very talented one, and LaDarren Brown of Desoto, Texas is more of a speed back. They don't have a big back in the class.
2. Defensive Depth: Oklahoma State was advertised as having more defensive depth than before and the Cowboys did going into the season. But injuries to two standout seniors in defensive end Jimmy Bean and middle linebacker Ryan Simmons watered that down, not to mention the nagging injuries to some other players. In the Big 12, where defending up-tempo offenses is a way of life, teams have to have a solid two-deep and three in some critical positions. The 2016 recruiting class has nine of the commitments on defense with three defensive ends, two of them junior college players, a linebacker (with likely one to add), four cornerbacks, and a safety.
3. Offensive Line: Some probably think this should be number two on the list, but it can be overcome with exceptional skill talent and lots of work on fundamentals. It also takes three to four recruiting cycles to fix, which is about how long it takes to let an offensive line slide. Transfers and adding older players like UAB transfer Victor Salako help, and junior college transfers by way of a four-year school in Larry Williams will also help. Williams is one of five offensive linemen committed in the 2016 class. They look good and you have to hope that two sophomores-to-be and two redshirt freshman-to-be will jump in this spring and help create badly needed competition. Competition will help improve the line.
4. Kick-off Specialist: You have to hope that maybe a walk-on will jump on this role. The short kickoffs became more of a factor as the season wore on and exploded with the 90-yard return by Alex Ross of OU in Bedlam. There are no specialists in the 2016 recruiting class as of this time.
5. Punter: I'm hoping this is Zach Sinor improving because he is on scholarship. Sinor is great at diving balls inside the 20-yard line but sometimes you need distance and he is struggling with that and it showed in field position in the loss to OU. That and kickoffs led to OU starting at its own 36-yard line on average and OSU at its own 24.