It's Official - Game on for Cowboys and Hurricane! 10 Things to Watch for
STILLWATER -- The final COVID-19 testing was conducted on the Oklahoma State Cowboys players and the coaching and support staff in Stillwater on Friday morning. The same was done on the University of Tulsa team and staff on their campus and the results are in and there is going to be a football game tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. inside Boone Pickens Stadium.
As someone that got tested, I can tell you that Oklahoma State used the new test that the Big 12 has contracted to use. It was quick and less evasive, although still was done by collecting a sample in the nasal passage, both sides of the nose. The results are quick, within 15 minutes. The absolute best thing is the results show that both programs are good to play on Saturday.
Make no mistake, while Oklahoma State is a 23-point favorite and loaded with returning talent, this is a good Tulsa football team. How prepared they will be after another week of practice that they requested is a question. However, if Tulsa has all of their offensive weapons including quarterback Zach Smith, running back Shamari Brooks, and receivers Keylon Stokes and Sam Crawford Jr. then they will present a challenge.
The Tulsa defense is less distinguished, but it is one of the longer (tall) defensive units, especially secondaries, in the nation.
Here are 10 things to look for in the game Saturday.
1. How much further developed is Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders in operating the offense and reading the defense?
Sanders says he feels much more mature as a quarterback and his teammates agree. Quarterbacks coach Tim Rattay has worked to get Sanders play quarterback from the head down instead of the wheels up. We will see on Saturday.
2. The younger right side of the Oklahoma State offensive line with guard and red-shirt freshman Cole Birmingham and tackle and red-shirt sophomore Hunter Anthony, how do they hold up against an athletic Tulsa defensive front?
It's no secret that Birmingham and Anthony are a lot younger and have had less snaps than Teven Jenkins and Josh Sills on the left side. Center Ry Schneider is much more experienced, but offensive line coach Charlie Dickey made a habit out of grooming pups to jump in and start on the offensive line at Kansas State. Dickey has three of his pupils starting in the NFL that started at Kansas State as redshirt freshman.
3. The overall strength of the Oklahoma State defense in working to stop a very talented skill set in the Tulsa offense.
Lots of anticipation about how well this veteran defensive unit for the Cowboys can be. It's exciting to think that a stout defense could be combining with the explosive offense of Hubbard, Wallace, and company.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on this secondary because they look to be good and they look to be aggressive," former Oklahoma State safety/linebacker and captain Deion Imade said. "Because this Tulsa offense under Philip Montgomery wants to throw the ball especially considering where he is from (Baylor), I want to see this secondary keep Tulsa under 200-yards passing. I want to see that happen so people will know this is a secondary you have to work to beat. The big match-up I want to see is those linebackers Malcolm Rodriguez, Amen Ogbongbemiga, Devin Harper, and Calvin Bundage stop that running attack with Shamari Brooks."
4. How much faster and stronger and overall more explosive is a healthy Chuba Hubbard?
This may be the most amazing thing of all because Hubbard was hurt last season, whether you believe it or not. He is healthy now and you can see how much quicker and more explosive that he is. That will be discouraging to opposing defenses.
5. How well do the Cowboys receivers handle the expected press coverage from Tulsa's big corners (6-2 and 6-3)?
Tulsa tried press coverage last season and it didn't work. They were very aggressive and drew at least three pass interference penalties. Press man coverage is a big gamble.
6. How much is new transfer receiver Tay Martin able to contribute?
Martin came in ready to get after it. He is a hard worker and he is very talented especially with his ball skills. Head coach Mike Gundy and offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn are talking he'll play 40-plays or more.
7. How explosive is he and how much does freshman receiver Brennan Presley play?
If fall camp is any indication he is very explosive just like he was in high school at Bixby and he can play two of the receiver positions, so I think he will play 30 plays, maybe more. He will also be involved on returns.
8. Does punter Tom Hutton kick any boomers against Tulsa?
I don't know. I bragged about Hutton's leg last season, but he couldn't always crush one on demand. What he did do was play big-time field position by having only one touchback and limiting opponents to 18-yards of punt returns for the entire season.
9. How does new field goal and extra point kicking specialist Alex Hale perform?
Hale has been really good in the preseason. I don't think he will be the nervous type, He is an Aussie and I don't want to profile, but most Australians that I've known never seemed nervous. His leg is strong and I've seen him hit from beyond 55-yards.
10. What is the atmosphere like in Boone Pickens Stadium with the crowd, suites included, under 17,000?
Our own Zach Lancaster is tasked with reporting on how Boone Pickens Stadium is during a socially spaced and COVID-19 limited crowd. Marshall Levenson will be in the student section working the same type of story. I'll also be trying to gauge the excitement level and atmosphere from the sidelines.