Oklahoma State buttoned up its spring practice last week. So, as we head into the football void that is late spring and summer, here are three talking points to take into the dog days about the Cowboys’ (hopefully) rebounding offense.
1. QB1 (Apparently) Still Up for Grabs
It’s not easy to replace a four-year starter and former All-Big 12er, but the Cowboys have options.
OSU welcomed former Texas Tech standout Alan Bowman, by way of Michigan, and incoming four-star high schooler Zane Flores. Returning is Garret Rangel, who was the starter when Spencer Sanders went down last season, and Gunnar Gundy, who also has experience in the system.
While Bowman is, by far, the most experienced of the group, neither Mike Gundy nor offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn were ready to tip their hand as to the QB pecking order before the team broke for the summer.
“All-in-all, all those guys have taken a bunch of snaps,” said Dunn at last week’s practice. “Those guys took a ton for us last year. Gunnar (Gundy) took his, Garret (Rangel) got his and (Alan) Bowman certainly has gotten his over the years. I’m pretty excited about where we’re at, and time will tell where it shakes itself out.”
Whether or not OSU coaches have a strong notion of who they’re going with, it doesn’t hurt to play things close to the vest and keep that competition raised throughout the summer.
2. Cowboy Back: Extinct
When the spring roster was released there was a notable exclusion. Gone is the hybrid tight end-fullback position that OSU created almost a decade ago and back are the tight ends and fullbacks.
The move was made, at least partially, as a way for the Cowboys to refocus their efforts on the running game that was so hapless last season. And for good reason. The Pokes ranked ninth of 10 Big 12 teams in rushing offense and turned in their lowest per-game average since 2001.
It remains to be seen how that will play out on the field. It never really felt like OSU had the right mix of personnel and playbook to fully take advantage of the hybrid idea. But if this move makes for either position to be more effective, then sign me up.
3. Wide Receiver Health Could Mitigate Attrition
The Cowboys lost four of their top five receivers from last season which puts an OC/WR coach in a tough spot. But in his final spring media availability, Kasey Dunn suggested that OSU’s receivers room is in a better place than last spring.
After recalling how young and injury-bitten the Cowboys were last year, Dunn said, “We’re much stronger and much deeper.”
Along with experienced incoming talent like Arland Bruce, De’Zhaun Stibling and Leon Johnson III, the Cowboys get back Jaden Bray and Blaine Green, a couple of playmakers who would have figured into a much bigger role if they had been healthy last year. Greene was OSU’s third-leading receiver in 2021 before he missed all of 2022 with injury and Bray made enough head-turning plays when he’s been healthy, to even excite Mike Gundy about his potential with a full season ahead of him.
“Well, [Jaden] Bray is a guy that’s got a lot of tools,” said Gundy. “If he can stay healthy throughout the year, now that he’s more mature, it should really give us an added dimension that we haven’t had in a couple years. He’s got size. He’s got range. He’s got length. He’s a basketball player. He can go up and get the ball. He’s got good body control. We’ve lived with guys like that for a long time.”
OSU has seemingly never been short on receiver talent and — even after an offseason marked by so much attrition — they look to be in good shape heading into the summer.