#16 Oklahoma State Football 2016 Preview

Oklahoma State Cowboys
Overall Rank: #16
#3 Big 12
Oklahoma State won their first ten games of the 2015 season which propelled the Cowboys into the College Football Playoff conversation. However, things did not go so well down the stretch as the Cowboys lost their final three games to Baylor, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl leaving a bitter taste within the program. The silver lining is that plenty of experienced starters return in 2016, which makes Oklahoma State a darkhorse contender for the Big 12 title.
2015 Record: 10-3, 7-2
2015 Bowl: Sugar Bowl vs. Ole Miss (L 20-48)
Coach: Mike Gundy (94-47 at Oklahoma State, 94-47 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Yurcich
Defensive Coordinator: Glenn Spencer
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Chris Carson, RB, 517 yards
Passing: Mason Rudolph, QB, 3,770 yards
Receiving: James Washington, WR, 1,087 yards
Tackles: Jordan Sterns, S, 108
Sacks: Vincent Taylor, DT, 5.0
Interceptions: Four tied with 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Marcell Ateman, TE Blake Jarwin, LB Jordan Burton, LB Chad Whitener, S Tre Flowers, CB Ashton Lampkin, P Zach Sinor, K Ben Grogan
Key Losses: QB JW Walsh, WR David Glidden, WR Brandon Sheperd, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, DE Jimmy Bean, LB Seth Jacobs, CB Kevin Peterson
Mason Rudolph is back at quarterback and that is a great thing as Rudolph continued to get better in 2015 and threw for 3,770 yards. This type of progress for Rudolph should only continue in 2016 as he won’t be splitting reps with J.W. Walsh this season. James Washington is a tremendous playmaker at wide receiver and he will try to build upon a strong 2015 season. Washington caught 53 passes for 1,087 yards and ten touchdowns last season so a good goal for 2016 would be about 80 receptions and about 1,300-1,400 yards receiving. The secondary has fast, aggressive playmakers like safety Jordan Sterns who aren’t afraid to get in the mix and make plays all over the field. Jordan Burton will anchor the linebacker unit and will need to have another all Big-12 type of season in order for the Cowboys to improve defensively.
Running the football was a big problem all year long for Oklahoma State as they finished 113th in the nation with 126.8 rushing yards per game. Stanford transfer Barry J. Sanders, the son of legendary Cowboys running back Barry Sanders, will look to help jump start this anemic running attack. Offensive line play will also have to improve. Oklahoma State allowed almost 2.5 sacks per contest in 2015 and had a constant battle trying to open holes for the running backs. The pass rush is another point of emphasis that needs to be addressed as the loss of Emmanuel Ogbah will be a challenge for the Cowboys. Defensive tackle Vincent Taylor had five sacks in 2015 and will need to post similar, if not better, numbers in 2016 to help take some pressure off of the rest of the Oklahoma State defensive unit.
The Bottom Line:
A visit from Pittsburgh to Stillwater on September 17 will be a nice early test to see where the Cowboys are as a team. A trip to Baylor and a visit from Texas will follow in the next two weeks. If Oklahoma State can win all three of those games, they will get some much needed momentum. The back half of the schedule is fairly difficult with games against West Virginia and road trips to TCU and Oklahoma. This very well could be one of those seasons for the Cowboys where they play a better brand of football but the record won’t necessarily reflect it. If the running game improves and Oklahoma State can get some road wins in tough environments, then look for about nine wins with a chance at a tenth win in a bowl game.
Projected Bowl: Alamo Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 126.8 (113th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 353.2 (7, 2)
Total Offense: 480.0 (22, 5)
Scoring Offense: 39.5 (14, 5)
Rushing Defense: 186.0 (87, 7)
Pass Defense: 252.2 (94, 6)
Total Defense: 439.1 (99, 5)
Scoring Defense: 30.5 (88, 6)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (4, 1)
Sacks: 3.08 (6, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.46 (90, 4)
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#203 Tramonda Moore