2. Defensive Tackle Depth - We said that Shane Jarka and Chris Donaldson are playing well, and toward the end of camp the trio of Cooper Bassett, Nigel Nicholas, and freshman Davidell Collins showed they could help out, and Bill Young was looking at situations that put them in the best position even though they are undersized (weight). Also, Young loves it that redshirt freshman Anthony Rogers out of Arkansas is making strides.
3. Catching the Ball - A major concern after the final scrimmage. The Cowboys receivers have had trouble at times making catches. You have to catch the ball in this offense. Plays don't get any emptier in value than the ones that take only five seconds off the clock and don't move the ball even an inch. Mike Gundy said it best after the scrimmage, we saw the value of stringing catches together one after the other.
4. Special Teams - We all expect Joe DeForest to just put it all together and it will click, but although there are a lot of the new players on offense and defense, there are even more on special teams. The cover units and return units will be loaded with pups, including freshmen.
5. Middle Linebacker - You knew Orie Lemon needed to stay healthy -- and he should probably be added to number one with Weeden and Hunter on this list -- but with the injuries to Tolu Moala, Caleb Lavey, and Kenny Alexander the mike linebacker depth chart has really thinned out. Now for the good news, look at the list of surprises.
6. Kicking, Punting, and Snaps - This is an annual staple. The Cowboys have veterans here in Dan Bailey, Quinn Sharp and Marc Yerry. But specialists have to be mentally tough as they each know one blown chance can make a huge difference in a game and even a season.
7. Wide Receiver Health - Offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen has said he wants six to eight receivers going in and out in the offense. As camp closes the offense still seems to be looking for a certain six, seven, and eight. Therefore, you need to keep them all healthy.
8. Focus on Issue at Hand - This really applies to the non-conference schedule, and especially the trip to Louisiana-Lafayette. This team is younger and less experienced. Last year's team was veteran and still stumbled against a good Houston team by not playing its best the week after the Georgia win. Dez Bryant was there for the Houston game. This team needs to understand they must play its best and be prepared every day or night out. Let's say the Cowboys go 4-0 and beat Texas A&M in the conference opener. The next Friday in Louisiana could ruin that start. Tulsa will play like its the Super Bowl in Stillwater. The Cowboys must answer the call mentally each time out as they are not good enough to win in cruise control.
9. Offensive Line - You've been waiting on this. Bill Haisten wrote in the Tulsa World about Joe Wickline having to replace an offensive line with 144 starts among them. Well, call me an O-line apologist, but I think these guys will be fine. They've been waiting and Grant Garner, Nick Martiniez, Jonathan Rush, Levy Adcock, and Anthony Morgan, along with younger guys Parker Graham, Brandon Webb, and returning starter Lane Taylor aren't going to screw it up.
10. Routine - Young teams can really benefit from a solid and consistent routine. Mike Gundy and his staff are going to have to break that routine earlier than normal and string it out over two weeks this season. The rewards were great in matching A&M's open week prior to the conference opener and two ESPN games on national television. OSU has an off Saturday the fourth week with a Thursday game and then a Friday game the next week. That will be an important period from a routine standpoint.