The long summer is almost over, as fall camp is just over a week away.
Oklahoma State is tentatively scheduled to starts its fall festivities on Aug. 2 (next Wednesday). With new offensive schemes being implemented, a new starting quarterback inbound and an entirely new defense, we are not short on questions entering the 2023 season.
We’ll start with three questions for the Cowboys’ offense entering fall camp.
1. How Does the Offensive Line Shake Out?
This might actually be two questions with the second being “Can OSU’s offensive line stay healthy?”
It’s a brutal position where play after play 300-pound men are charging into each other before performing hand-to-hand combat, so the answer to that question is almost assuredly no, but hopefully the O-line can stay more healthy in 2023 than they have the past three or so years.
The group brings back much of its production from 2022 outside of Caleb Etienne, who transferred to BYU. The Cowboys brought in Texas State transfer Dalton Cooper, who missed parts of spring camp with injury, but the starter of 36 games with the Bobcats is expected to factor into things early in Stillwater.
OSU also gets Cole Birmingham back after he missed all of 2022 with injury after starting 16 games in his first three seasons in Stillwater. Here is a breakdown of returning career starts the Cowboys have along the offensive line (OSU starts only):
Jake Springfield — 29
Preston Wilson — 22
Cole Birmingham — 16
Taylor Miterko — 13
Joe Michalski — 9
Jason Brooks Jr. — 5
The trenches are not a young-man’s game, so hopefully the lumps this group has taken over the past few years provides them the experience needed in 2023. Then past that, there are young guys to be excited about, such as Austin Kawecki, Calvin Harvey, Jakobe Sanders, Noah McKinney, Jack Endean and others.
For the first time in a long time, it feels as if the group has some solid depth. Now, it’s all about production. If the position group is able to produce, it’ll go along way in helping answer our next question.
2. How Long Will It Take to Name a Starting Quarterback?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to fall camp quarterback battles:
- Competition is good.
- For the love of everything, please name a starter ASAP so that guy can get all the reps.
For the time being, Mike Gundy is going with Option 1 with Alan Bowman, Garret Rangel and Gunnar Gundy set to do battle. It feels like it would take some doing for one of the younger two options to supplant Bowman, a Michigan transfer, but here is what Gundy had to say about the competition at Big 12 Media Days:
“We’re gonna go through [fall camp] a couple weeks, halfway through, see where we’re at,” Gundy said. “If there’s somebody we feel like they give us the best chance for early season success, we name it. If not, we don’t do it. And I don’t really know right now. Like, people think, ‘Well, he knows. He’s just not saying it.’ Why wouldn’t I say it? I’ve said it before in the spring, said it before in the summer. I don’t know right now.
“I think competition is healthy. The flip side of that is somebody says, ‘Does your team have direction in who’s there quarterback? Is it productive or not?’ I don’t know, but I know that if we don’t know for sure right now, then we can’t name one. So that allows me to make that decision.”
3. How Will Snaps Get Distributed at Wide Receiver?
The Cowboys lost a ton of receiving production from last season, but all the incoming transfers will make this group fun to follow in fall camp.
Brennan Presley, Rashod Owens and Jaden Bray are the only returners with starts under their belts, but incoming are Washington State transfer De’Zhaun Stribling, Iowa transfer Arland Bruce IV and George Fox transfer Leon Johnson III.
OK, so there are six names to watch, and we haven’t even mentioned Blaine Green or Talyn Shettron. And there is seemingly always a freshman wideout who turns some heads in fall camp, so watch out for talk of Jalen Pope or Camron Heard or Tykie Andrews in a few weeks.
The position allows for rotation, so it’s likely all those guys (maybe aside from the true freshmen) will contribute quite a bit this year, but all that competition should be a ton of fun to watch.