Strengths & Concerns Heading Into Opener

I thought I would put together a check list of various items heading into Saturday night's opener with Montana State at Boone Pickens Stadium. Our coverage will include items every day leading up to the games. This will be a one time item as the Cowboys go from preseason camp and practice to game week.

QB -
A strength. The competition between Donovan Woods and Bobby Reid has not impacted their relationship. The quarterbacks seem to be a loose group and Woods and Reid seemed to pick up their performance each week of the preseason camp. Also, freshman Zac Robinson is the real deal and will a very good player in the future for the Cowboys.

RB - A little bit of a concern in that no back identified himself as the guy. After a lackluster first scrimmage the backs all showed improvement. This could wind up being a position by committee situation or Mike Gundy and company may find they have a "gamer" at the position, a player that picks it up in games rather than showing it in practice.

WR - A concern in that D'Juan Woods and Luke Frazier have been very solid, even spectacular, but who else is going to step up? Tommy Devereaux has shown glimpses, as have others including freshmen Jeremy Broadway and Ricky Price. Until the Cowboys play a game and find out who will step up it is a concern offsetting Woods and Frazier.

TE - They are young but they have ability and it has shown up through camp. I'm just eager to see Paschal Smith, Brandon Pettigrew and Justin Waller in game action.

OL - Solid strength, they have worked well and most of the time done a solid job of protection and run blocking. It is the most athletic OSU offensive line in years, if not ever. Depth is a concern.

Communication - No problems in camp as offensive coordinator Larry Fedora is a quick thinker, a must with the no huddle and Gunter Brewer gets the message across. For reasons I can't state this will really hep, but it will be a strength.

DE -
Deepest position on the team with seven guys that can really play and help the team. The biggest plus is that Nathan Peterson has come back strong and may be a better player than he was a year ago as a freshman.

DT - Much improved from a year ago, but will need to give consistent great effort. That is a must, no loafs on the defensive line. If Ryan McBean, XLK, Jeray Chatham, Larry Brown and Josh Pinaire will do that then this defense could really hum this season.

LB - Most talented position with the front liners, but depth could be a problem. Lawrence Pinson, Pagitte McGee, Jamar Ransom and Paul Duren have all been as good or better than expected. Ransom is a huge plus with his versatility and speed.

CB - A concern only because of the ankle injury to Martel Van Zant. The corners have been playing very well. Grant Jones is a solid third man here. Injuries need to stay away, and Van Zant needs to get the ankle healthy.

Safeties - It has been solid in camp, but again, injuries have to be avoided. The young players are playing well and the question is how well will they play under the lights. There is no question that the coaching of Vance Bedford and Joe DeForest have played huge in bringing along the young players.

Kicker - Hate it that Jason Ricks is hurt, but Bruce Redden is a cocky backup that if he can get on a roll has a very strong leg. Either Redden or Matt Fodge will handle kickoffs.

Punter - Fodge won the job on consistency, but give Cole Reynolds a big thank you as he pushed Fodge and made him better.

Special Teams - Should be good, very good coverage units. Two deep snappers should be better than one as each can concentrate on one type of snap. The returners are a question, but they have the speed and talent you are looking for.

Comraderie - It has been very good. This team seems to really get a long and have a feeling for each other. I think that is important.

Composure - There are some players I have no question about. But also there are a lot of young players and the first time something bad happens the leaders will have to step up to steady the ship. I look at guys like Charlie Johnson, Corey Hilliard, Donovan Woods, Lawrence Pinson, Pagitte McGee, Paul Duren, and definitely Jamie Thompson.

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