You’ve got a pretty good idea about Oklahoma heading into its season opener against Houston. But how about some of the other conference foes?
All this week Sooners Illustrated is going to check in with various publishers from the conference to see how things are going.
This trip takes us to Stillwater, Okla., to check in with Go Pokes guru Robert Allen.
He’s come home, but is Barry J. Sanders the answer at running back? Or just a part of the equation to help the Cowboys rushing attack?
I think it is too early to tell. As for the start of the season it appears that Barry J. Sanders will be part of the equation at the running back position. Sanders has had a good camp and has been very competitive in a crowded running back position with no less than five strong candidates. I think he is in the upper echelon and will get 10-15 touches at the start. He has also proven to be a good receiver out of the backfield, as he was at Stanford. He will further impact the Cowboys as a kick and punt returner which I feel pretty good about him being involved in as well.
No J.W. Walsh so does it finally feel like Mason Rudolph’s team? Will there be any unique package sets down at the goal line, or is it all Rudolph?
From the inside it was Mason Rudolph’s team and it really has been Mason Rudolph’s team since he jumped in at the end of the 2014 season. He won the team over with his performance in the rain at Baylor in his first start and then cemented his stature with the Bedlam win in Norman and the bowl win in Arizona. I think the two, Rudolph and Walsh, are good friends and wanted success for each other. However, toward the end of last season Rudolph was becoming frustrated with coming out of drives in the red zone. The dual-QB or quarterback package situation went about as far as it could before becoming an issue.
Tell us why the consensus No. 21-ish ranking from preseason polls is simply too low when looking at the Cowboys this year. Or is it?
I don’t think it is too low, but I have become a non-follower of the polls. Oklahoma State was No. 19 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and that really doesn’t matter. I think it is important to be ranked, but where anymore doesn’t matter until the CFP Poll begins. Oklahoma State started at 10-0 last season, but lost the last three games to Baylor, OU, and Ole Miss in decisive outcomes. What have you done for me lately is not a good proposition for the Cowboys and they will need to turn that around at the start of this season. Being ranked gives them a chance to do whatever they are capable of doing. That is why you want to be ranked. Your performance will do the rest. I think they are the second best team in the Big 12 going in, we’ll see if that turns out or if they are better or worse.
Who’s going to be the biggest difference maker on defense this season?
Not a who, but a position as the defensive tackles led by Vincent Taylor, Mote Maile, Vili Leveni (back from the achillies injury), and newcomer D.Q. Osborne that was the Defensive Player of the Year in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference last season playing for Kilgore are deep and destructive. This is a freaky talented and underpublicized situation where Oklahoma State has depth and talent at the defensive tackle position unlike any they’ve had in some time. Add freshman sensation last season in Darrion Daniels and senior Eric Davis and it is a solid three-deep at defensive tackle. That can be a difference maker on defense
What has been the biggest surprising development from camp?
The running back position where you knew Chris Carson, Barry J. Sanders, Rennie Childs, and Jeff Carr would all be in the mix. What we didn’t know was that Tulsa Booker T. Washington freshman Justice Hill was strong enough and explosive enough to join them and be a legitimate threat to play at that position right away.