The Cowboys have to learn it first and we're not talking schemes. Let's start with steps -- hand techniques, backpedal, shuffle, gaps, etc.
New defensive coordinator Bill Young is among other things, a Phil Cutchin disciple. Fundamentals will be addressed. This means linemen will be learning to line up in the correct stance and power step. They will review proper techniques for moves to get off blocks like swim and rip.
Linebackers will learn how to move lateral and backwards, probably how to go downhill as well. Defensive backs will learn the basics in coverage starting with correct backpedal and turn, and when to look for the ball. Every basic will be covered and then the advance to gaps, coverages, blitzes, etc.
2. Offensive Depth
Seven of the offensive starters in the Holiday Bowl return and there are plenty of other players that played on offense back as well.
That means with a senior at quarterback in Zac Robinson; Russell Okung, Andrew Lewis, and Brady Bond being seniors on the offensive line; Dez Bryant a strong possibility to go pro after this season; and running back Kendall Hunter a possibility to go pro after next fall, that it is time to begin the rebuilding of the Cowboys offense.
Mike Gundy and the offensive staff needs to be proactive. Get an early 2010 depth chart ready and get those guys a few reps. The Holiday Bowl and the injuries in that game are proof that you might always need them earlier than expected. Quarterback is real interesting as you have a freshman arriving this summer in Clint Chelf, two standout high school seniors-to-be committed for 2010 in Johnny Deaton and Nathan Sorenson. The status and potential of Alex Cate and Brandon Weeden really needs to be defined.
3. Quinn the Punter?
Based on what I witnessed in practice last season, I believe that Quinn Sharp has that thud connection punting the football that I used to hear before Baylor games when Sepulveda was punting for the Bears.
Sharp kicked so well that Matt Fodge often joked that he'd better not mess up or he would lose his job. Fodge held the punting job for four years and did a great job. While OSU has punted less and less recently, you still want to make sure you got a good one when you have to. The Cowboys defense and Bill Young will appreciate the help in field position.