There is a good argument both ways and the true hope for Saturday night is that the Cowboys come out and take control early against a Washington State team that is improved, but not that much and will be playing on the road with a boatload of young players in the lineup.
The first step is get the scoreboard to the point where the option is there to either put the pedal down and really punctuate the opening win or to clear the bench of players and start the process of getting more backups some actual game experience. There is value in both and down the line against Troy, maybe Tulsa, and hopefully Louisiana-Lafayette on the road, the Cowboys will have some more options to extend the experience on the team.
My opinion is that with a young team a lot of players that are taking over starting roles that you push the envelope and show a young team how to finish off an opponent. No poor sportsmanship here, not asking to go hurt the other side, just that the team pushes through that point were you begin to feel comfortable in a game and continue to play hard, execute sharp, keep the opposing team from gaining momemtum, and win the game going away.
As they said in "Remember the Titans", "leave no doubt." One of my radio listeners, Joe, said it even better when he suggested that you get your football team to imitate the matadors at the end of a bullfight. You make sure the sword goes all the way through the bull.
I'm not saying that Oklahoma State will have that opportunity on Saturday against Washington State or the week after with Troy. This team may need some warm-up laps with the offense and may play some closer than anticipated games (the spread for the Washington State game is just 16 points). The hope is you get that opportunity and then we'll see which path Mike Gundy choses to take. It would be nice to ask him but coaches tend to not like to go down that road verbally while hoping like heck that it happens.
2. Brandon Weeden will be one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 college football season.
This is no secret and I have shared it with many of my national media friends. I may get some street cred out of this prediction. Weeden has put in the work.
At 26 years old, and soon to be 27, he is not going to be intimidated by anything. That big arm is loaded and he is sincerely excited about all this. Maturity, enthusiasm, and physical talent should go a long way. He'll need protection and receivers that will catch the ball. If that happens then sit back and enjoy.
3. I love the way offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen is holding players accountable on his side of the ball, especially the Cowboy receivers. They are accountable for what they do in practice and he is using that to dictate the reps and opportunities that those guys get in games.
Holgorsen makes it perfectly clear, practice well and do what you are supposed to and you get to play. Reputations are checked at the gate in practice. It comes down to what you show on the field.
He did admit that in the past he has had some gamers in his offense, players that did not practice that well but turned it up and were sensational on Saturday. He wouldn't share any names because he doesn't want any of his OSU offensive players to get any ideas. A few of those will come in time but for now Holgorsen keeps his offensive players living in a "what have you done for me lately" world.
4. The defense will be strong all season unless it is hit by the injury bug.
Bill Young is a guy that stays low key and he is not prone to showering his guys with compliments, but Young is sincerely excited about this crew. He talked like a proud father in the press conference on Monday about his defense.
All through camp the other defensive coaches, including Joe DeForest, Glenn Spencer, and Jason Jones, have been adament about the speed and athletic ability of the defense. The secondary is definitely improved. The linebackers have been hit by injuries but are solid with Orie Lemon, Justin Gent, and James Thomas as the starters.
Depth is a problem at defensive tackle but even that is improving by the day. If Young likes this unit then my guess is that you and I will too. I have had a sneak preview and I like them a lot.
5. I know Cowboy fans can be "nervous Nellies" but it is time to buck up and quit showing that side or weakness. I'm talking about recruiting now. Cowboy recruitniks need to be more like J.W. Walsh and less like Pee Wee Herman.
Walsh is already serving as a leader and a quarterback for this crew as he has called all of the other recruits and is spreading the message of what this group could accomplish together in Stillwater.
Walsh, Herschel Sims, Travis Cross, Lyndell Johnson, and Desmond Roland II are all top flight prospects and other schools are not going to let them go without pressing the issue. That is recruiting, so if you are a faint of heart recuitnik that skips a heartbeat with every rumor then you may want to cover your eyes and ears all the way up to February's signing day because the Cowboys are going to have to fight all the way until the signitures get faxed to the football office.