Oklahoma State Preview: Offense

Offensively, Oklahoma State has picked up right where the Cowboys left off in an explosive 2011 campaign.

Sure, the Cowboy offense hasn't exactly gone up against a murderer's row of defenses. But it's hard to discount video game numbers like 62.3 points per game, 686.7 yards per game and 63 percent on third down conversions.

As usual under Mike Gundy, the Cowboys have accomplished that through a balanced spread attack. Oklahoma State averages more than 300 yards per game both passing (378.3) and rushing (308.3).

Of course, how well the Cowboys do as 2012 continues on will depend on the continued development of their quarterbacks.

It sounds like backup J.W. Walsh (6-2 205) will get the start at quarterback with Wes Lunt still recovering from injury. Walsh has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 496 yards and six touchdowns to one interception, while also averaging 10.2 yards per carry. If Lunt (6-4 211) plays, the true freshman provides more of a pocket passer to Walsh's dual threat. Lunt hit on 68 percent of his passes for 588 yards and four touchdowns to three interceptions before getting hurt. Lunt beat out Walsh in a heated competition this past spring.

Joseph Randle (6-1 200) and Jeremy Smith (5-10 208) are one of the better running back duos in the country. Randle averages more than 135 rushing and receiving yards per game, and has rushed for 335 yards and four touchdowns so far. He does have a bit of a fumbling problem. Smith is the more physical back, and has 173 yards and four touchdowns on just 25 carries this year. Texas fans will remember him as the back that broke a couple long runs in Austin last fall. The Cowboys don't utilize a fullback a ton, but when they do, it's Kye Staley (5-10 236), a good athlete who has a 52-yard catch to his credit this season.

The receivers are good, though they are noticeably less dynamic without Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper. Tracy Moore (6-2 215) lost weight and moved from an inside receiver spot. He's the top red zone threat, with four of his 11 catches going for touchdowns. Isaiah Anderson (5-10 175) is a bigger play threat. But more often this season, the ball has found inside receivers Josh Stewart (5-10 178) and Blake Jackson (6-3 235). Stewart leads the Pokes with 19 catches, which he's taken for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson has 12 snags for a team-leading 217 yards. He's scored once. When the Cowboys utilize a tight end (as opposed to Jackson's inside receiver spot), Justin Horton (6-3 254) is the guy.

Statistics can be used to make any point. And when people point out that Oklahoma State only returned one starter — right guard Lane Taylor (6-3 328) — it's a bit misleading. Taylor is the only full-time returning starter, and he's one of the best linemen in the Big 12. But his fellow guard mate Jonathan Rush (6-4 305) started 13 games in 2010, so it's not like he's inexperienced. Neither is left tackle Parker Graham (6-7 315), who started five games a year ago. Right tackle Daniel Koenig (6-6 310) did receive his first career start this year, as did co-starters at center Evan Epstein (6-3 295) and Jake Jenkins (6-3 290).

But the statistics put up by those linemen are anything but silly. Oklahoma State is one of three schools to not allow a sack so far in 2012, and the line has paved the way for the Cowboys to average 6.95 yards per carry, while allowing the ninth-fewest tackles for loss per game.

Quinn Sharp (6-1 205) may be the country's best kicker. He's 4-for-5 on field goals this year, including 2-of-3 from 40-plus yards. Justin Gilbert (6-0 194) is one of the nation's most explosive kick returners. He hasn't taken one back this season, but he has four career returns for touchdowns, tied for the most among active players, and he's averaging 29 yards per return.

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