Oklahoma State Fall Camp Check List
STILLWATER -- Finally, it looks like we could soon be moving from discussing and fretting over the particulars of the football season, at least some of them like how many games will be scheduled and when will the schedule begin. In other words, practice, real football practice could start as soon as Wednesday for Oklahoma State. While there are always depth chart issues to be contested and decided there are also some major questions to get answered. Here are the major questions I see for the Cowboys in August. I just hope the answers get the chance to be important and make a difference in September, October, and November.
1. With Dylan Galloway retired from college football, who will be at left tackle to help protect Spencer Sanders and open up the off tackle play for Chuba Hubbard?
The good answer to this is that offensive line coach Charlie Dickey does cross-train his linemen some as usually guards play center and both guard positions and he has been known to have tackles play on both sides.
There is no doubt about Teven Jenkins being very comfortable on the right side as evidence by his performance last season where he did not allow a single defender he was assigned to touch the quarterback (according to Pro Football Focus analytics). Jenkins will see some time at the left tackle but there are a number of options here. One I haven't seen mentioned is West Virginia transfer Josh Sills. Sills is 6-6 and 321 pounds and could only make himself more money in the NFL if he shows he can hold down a tackle position. Jacob Farrell is next in line from a climbing the ladder scenario and his athleticism has always been impressive.
Younger, but eager to get on the field are Cole Birmingham and even impressive freshman Eli Russ. There is no shortage of candidates and the offensive line chairs could be shuffled in order to get each starter in the best position for quarterback protection and offensive production.
2. Who is going to handle field goals and extra points?
I know this is one that doesn't always get the most attention or capture the imagination of football fans heading into a season, but it is pretty important when you remember that Oklahoma State had a kicker that connected on 60-of-78 field goal tries the past four seasons. Those points have been huge and as we have also discovered, some of those that missed were pretty important as well.
Sophomore Alex Hale from Australia appears to be the most likely answer and he has looked strong in practice and accurate. The other veteran option is kickoff specialist and back-up punter Jake McClure, who has a big leg but accuracy could be the question. His major problem with kickoffs, which to be fair, is a different style of kick has been kicking the ball out-of-bounds.
I expect this competition to go through most of fall camp.
3. Who will start opposite Rodarius Williams at corner?
The most logical answer to this question is either Corner moved to safety and then back Jarrick Bernard or Missouri graduate transfer Christian Holmes, who comes in with a solid resume' playing in the SEC, his college degree and as I learned on Twitter a 3.675 GPA his last semester, plus he is highly motivated to attract attention from the NFL. He is 6-1, 190-pounds which is excellent for a corner having to defend wideouts in man coverage as defenses battle spread offensive attacks.
Bernard came in as a freshman and played a lot at corner and eventially branched over to the "strike" safety, which is a hybrid safety that often plays like a corner and is usually the best man defender among the safeties. Now, after starting his sophomore season at the "strike" he will move back to corner.
Bernard and Holmes will have competition as sophomore Thomas Harper is 5-10, 180-pounds and an electric athlete that is determined to play as much as possible. He has a smiliar mindset to his talented older brother, Devin, that plays linebacker for the Cowboys. Keep an eye on Gabe Lemons, who I have always felt could develop into a big-time player.
4. Which quarterback backs up Spencer Sanders?
In my mind I have an answer here having seen enough in the three spring practices and in watching complete game video of freshman Shane Illingworth in high school in Norco, Calf. The 6-5, 226-pound Illingworth sure seems to have a strong understanding of playing the position, advance beyond his years I would say. He is also huge, athletic, and possesses and very live arm.
However, Oklahoma State did pick up a late junior college product in Ethan Bullock. Bullock is from Florida and started his college career at South Dakota State. He is 6-4, 210-pounds and has talent, as well as two years of eligibility. He would have to be very good to move in front of Illingworth.
5. Which receivers can step up and influence the offense?
You are probably thinking that with Tylan Wallace, Dillon Stoner, Landon Wolf, and big play speedster Braydon Johnson what else does the offense need. However, you forget this is a spread offense and while it does often roll with the run game and Chuba Hubbard that Kasey Dunn likes to use six-to-eight receivers moving in and out of the offense on a series.
The first development is look for last year's star freshman in the recruting class in Langston Anderson to jump in and make some major contributions. Dunn is very confident that Anderson is going to be as good, of not better, than thought when he committed to the Pokes out of Midlothian Heritage High School. I also have my eye on Jonathan Shepherd to break out with his size and speed as a red-shirt sophomore. Shepherd has all the tools.
Now, you add LSU graduate transfer receiver Dee Anderson, who is 6-6, 230-pounds and could almost double for a Cowboy back, but he is a post up receiver that could earn a lot of playing time and become invaluable in short yardage and red zone passing situations. I saw Spencer Sanders throw plenty of fades for touchdowns in high school and last season too. Anderson could be perfoect for those scenarios.