#12 Oklahoma State Football 2017 Preview


Oklahoma State Cowboys


Overall Rank: #12

#2 Big 12

Oklahoma State had a couple early losses, but then reeled off seven wins in a row during the heart of Big 12 action. The Cowboys had a shot at winning a share of the Big 12 title when they went to Oklahoma for the season finale, but they lost that contest 38-20 and had to settle for a trip to the Alamo Bowl. With an offense that looks like it can keep up with anybody in the Big 12 and a defense with potential, this is a team that has title aspirations in 2017.
2016 Record: 10-3, 7-2
2016 Bowl: Alamo Bowl vs. Colorado (W 38-8)
Coach: Mike Gundy (104-50 at Oklahoma State, 104-50 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Yurcich
Defensive Coordinator: Glenn Spencer
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Justice Hill, RB, 1,142 yards
Passing: Mason Rudolph, QB, 4,091 yards
Receiving: James Washington, WR, 1,380 yards
Tackles: Chad Whitener, LB, 71
Sacks: Justin Phillips, LB, 2.5; Jarrell Owens, DE, 2.5
Interceptions: Ramon Richards, S, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Jalen McCleskey, WR Chris Lacy, OL Zachary Crabtree, S Tre Flowers, DE Cole Walterscheid, LB Kenneth Edison-McGruder, P Zach Sinor
Key Losses: RB Chris Carson, WR Jhajuan Seales, LB Devante Averette, LB Jordan Burton, S Jordan Sterns, DT Vincent Taylor, DT Motekiai Maile
Mason Rudolph threw for 4,091 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. If that is not impressive enough, he completed 63.4 percent of his passes and was intercepted just four times. Rudolph is poised for a huge senior season, especially with so much talent returning around him. James Washington averaged 19.4 yards per catch and ended the season with 71 catches for 1,380 yards and ten touchdowns. He will again be Rudolph’s favorite deep threat. Jalen McCleskey added 73 receptions for 812 yards and seven touchdowns and Chris Lacy tallied 31 catches for 489 yards and three touchdowns. Marcell Ateman was injured last season, but was a starter back in 2015. The unit also adds Tyron Johnson, a talented transfer from LSU. The passing game may garner most of the headlines, but Justice Hill deserves quite a few too. He was the Big 12’s Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2016 and rushed for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns. He will be in for another productive season behind a talented offensive line that returns three starters.
Only five starters are back on defense and the Cowboys have some pretty big holes to fill all over the field. The secondary has to replace safety Jordan Sterns and former cornerback Ramon Richards will slide over into Sterns’ old spot beside Tre Flowers. Those two should make a good safety duo, but Richards moving away from cornerback does leave some questions there. Senior Adrian Baker is the most experienced option and sophomores Madre Harper and A.J. Green have potential. At linebacker Chad Whitener tallied 71 tackles last season. He will have to be a great leader though with new faces on both sides of him. The line should be in the best shape with the return of Jarrell Owens, Jordan Brailford, Cole Walterscheid and Darrion Daniels.
The Bottom Line:
If the defense can fill those holes effectively, this is a team that can win the Big 12 and be in the conversation for a playoff spot. The non-conference schedule with games against Tulsa, South Alabama and Pittsburgh should give the Cowboys time to prepare for the grueling Big 12 slate, which begins with a game against TCU on September 23rd. A three game stretch beginning on October 21st with a trip to Texas will likely decide Oklahoma State’s fate. The following week they head to West Virginia and on November 4th the Cowboys host rival Oklahoma. If the Cowboys can get past Oklahoma and enter the final month of the season with just one loss, the playoff chatter will be very loud.
Projected Bowl: Alamo Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 170.8 (68th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 323.9 (9, 2)
Total Offense: 494.8 (14, 4)
Scoring Offense: 38.6 (17, 3)
Rushing Defense: 193.5 (82, 6)
Pass Defense: 252.8 (98, 5)
Total Defense: 226.3 (92, 6)
Scoring Defense: 26.5 (53, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.85 (10, 2)
Sacks: 2.46 (32, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.46 (93, 7)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#37 Mason Rudolph
#38 James Washington
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#106 Tylan Wallace