Miles, though, may have a new selling point -- or should I say, smelling point -- in his recruiting efforts. "It smells different in Stillwater," sophomore QB Aso Pogi said of the effect of the new coaching regime. I guess the former OSU staff had a serious hygiene problem. Or the stockyards moved downwind during the offseason. Actually, Pogi spoke metaphorical. I think. "I appreciate the intent," the new coach said of Pogi's comment. "I think what he was trying to say was we're just going to expect to win." Ah, the inevitable new coach-inspired attitude adjustment. We heard it from the Missouri players and we certainly heard it from the OSU players. "Anytime you get a new staff, you're going to get more effort," Pogi said. "And the attitude has changed. The great thing coach Miles has brought is maximum effort. We're going to get everything we can get out of every football player on this team." All-league candidate LB Dwayne Levels put it a little differently, but with the same theme. "There's a new sense of urgency and confidence," Levels said. "I'm happy and excited about the change after three losing seasons. There's no doubt we can have a big turnaround." A turnaround, yes. A big turnaround? Unlikely. The Cowboys open on the road with Southern Miss then host Louisiana Tech and Northern Arizona before the Big 12 slate of A&M in College Station, Missouri and Texas at home, Iowa State in Ames and Colorado and Tech at home before closing out with Baylor in Waco and Oklahoma in Norman. "We have enough on both sides of the ball to put a competitive football team in the Big 12 Conference on the field," Miles said. Regardless of Miles' optimism, I see six wins, max, for OSU with that schedule. Five or less is more likely.
Another result of the coaching change is a simplification on both sides of the ball. QB Pogi said his job will no longer include choosing from among 20 to 25 possible checks at the line of scrimmage. "He'll have the option to change the play at the line of scrimmage," Miles said, "but those decisions should be easily made." Miles stressed that the Cowboys will be a balanced team offensively. "I want you to know that we're going to run the football and pass the football about an equal percentage," the former Dallas TE coach (from '98-'00) said. "We'll start with that premise. We want to make the defense have to defend both the run and the pass on every down."
Along with the sophomore Pogi (139 of 247 for 1,550 yards last fall), who took over as the Cowboys' starting QB midway through last season when Tony Lindsay underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, OSU will rely on RB Tatum Bell for production out of the backfield after Reggie White left early for the NFL. "His best football is in front of him," Miles said of Bell, a sophomore out of DeSoto. "The question was would he strike it up in there, and the answer is he will. He runs very aggressively, lowers his shoulder and drives for yards." As a true freshman last fall, Bell totaled 251 yards on 49 attempts, a solid 5.1 yards per carry. He will take handoffs out of both one- and two-back sets. The OSU Media Guide bio says that the Cowboys "won the services of this highly recruited running back over Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma." I don't remember the Horns going after Bell in '99 (for the '00 recruiting class), but IT did rank him as the No. 17 overall prospect in the state and the fourth best RB behind Tyson Thompson (signed with TCU but went juco), Vontez Duff (Notre Dame) and Sneezy Beltran (Texas). Beltran was the only RB the Horns signed in '00.
Miles said on defense he likes his interior linemen (despite the fact that all of last year's D-line starters are gone) and his middle linebacker (Levels) and he believes the OSU secondary "will be better based on scheme (by not putting the corners on an island)." All four DB starters from last fall return but they will be shuffled a bit in the new coach's two-LB, five-DB system. On offense, aside from the guys mentioned above, the OL has a "chance to be solid," according to Miles because of returning starters LT Kyle Eaton, LG Jeff Machado and C Jon Vandrell.
Finally, Miles mentioned a $100-million stadium project that would upgrade OSU's high school-like (my term, not Miles') football facility. The official OSU website, though, has no information on the project.