College football season is upon us, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys start their season on the road as they take on the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis, Oregon, at 9:30 PM CT on Friday night.
For the third time in three years, the Cowboys will play a different quarterback—or should I say quarterbacks?—and there are plenty of questions to be answered.
Last season Oklahoma State’s offense was on par with past teams in terms of successfully finding the end zone, but the defense was just plain bad. Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles should start to see some positive changes—we hope—on the defensive end, but let’s take a look at the offensive keys to Friday night’s matchup with the Beavers.
Get Chuba Going
As a freshman playing backup and eventually taking over for the injured Justice Hill, Chuba Hubbard managed to rush for 740 yards on 124 attempts for a 6.0 yard per carry average. He also hauled in 22 receptions for 229 yards. Hubbard found the end zone 9 times—7 on the ground, 2 through the air—and he is likely to spend more time there this season.
With the questions surrounding the pass game, it is imperative that Oklahoma State find success on the ground early and often. The Cowboys ranked second in the conference last season in rushing offense, and replacing Justice Hill is no easy task, but if Hubbard can rush for over 100 yards and Oklahoma State can put up over 200 rushing yards as a team, they’ll be starting off the season right.
Establish a Primary QB
Mike Gundy has been quiet—almost too quiet—about who is going to start at quarterback for the Cowboys, and regardless of his intentions to play two quarterbacks, there needs to be a primary guy under center who the team can look to for leadership.
Senior Dru Brown, who transferred from Hawaii a season ago, has the experience to lead a team that desperately needs it, but true freshman Spencer Sanders is obviously the future of Oklahoma State football. Picking between the two is no easy task, which is why Gundy has not publicly made a decision, but it needs to happen, and doing so in the first game of the season would be wise.
Oklahoma State is heavily favored in this game—by more than two touchdowns—and if all goes as planned, the Cowboys should head back to Stillwater with an easy win. Talent aside, however, this could be a trap game for the boys in orange.
Playing on the road on a Friday night against a Power 5 opponent is no joke, and if the Cowboys get rattled early, it could make for a long night. Scoring early would do well for the offense, but if the defense struggles, and they find themselves down early, Oklahoma State cannot panic. No matter what happens early, the Cowboys have to maintain composure. If they can do that, they should grab an easy victory to kickoff the season.