Originally Published: Dec 30, 2010 8:17 PM CDT
We live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society. A season such as the one capped by the Cowboys in the Alamo Bowl can leave fans wanting more and wondering whats next. So let us be among the first to explore what 2011 might look like for Mike Gundy and the Cowboys.
Three huge decision loom for the OSU offense: 1. Will Justin Blackmon return? 2. Will Brandon Weeden return? 3. Who will be OSUs next offensive coordinator? I lean slightly toward Blackmon leaving and Weeden returning. Offensive coordinator well have to address in another blog.
Weeden and Blackmon aside, the Cowboys also lose a two-time All American running back in Kendall Hunter who will go down as one of the top 5 in OSU history. Still, OSU should be stout on offense again.
Wide receiver Bo Bowling is a senior as well, but Josh Cooper, Michael Harrison, Tracy Moore and Hubert Anyiam have all shown flashes in the past. There may be no star receiver next year, but the Cowboys should be deep.
Speaking of deep...thats what the running back spot is. Joseph Randle ran for over 400 yards and caught more than 400 yards in passes as a freshman. Jeremy Smith is a bulldozer and the Cowboys have a commitment from one of the nations best in Abilene, Texas Herschel Sims.
The offensive line loses only two players off of the two-deep chart from the Alamo Bowl and neither is a starter. Mike Gundy has said the linemen he has in the program now may turn out to be the best OSU has ever seen. And line coach Joe Wickline is one of the best in the country. O-line will be a major strong suit for the Cowboys.
The defensive front 7 will be hit hard by graduation. Of the 10 senior starters the Cowboys lose, 5 are defensive linemen or linebackers. It wont be easy to replace a guy like Orie Lemon at middle linebacker.
The defensive line loses more depth than any area on the team. Ends Shane Jarka and Ugo Chinasa are gone along with tackle Chris Donaldson. Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones return for their senior years at defensive end, but the Cowboys will need to find some help in the middle and depth on the ends.
At linebacker, Caleb Lavey should to step in for Lemon in the middle. Justin Gent will be gone, but freshman Shaun Lewis has quickly become a star at linebacker and James Thomas continues to improve.
The secondary should be terrific next season with the return of the emerging Johnny Thomas and All Big 12 performer Markel Martin. It will be tough to see cornerback Andrew McGee leave the program. Great kid. But Broderick Brown got better as the season progressed and finished second on the team in tackles. And Justin Gilbert is the fastest Cowboys (maybe WR Isiah Anderson) and should be much better after a full offseason with Rob Glass.
So, this offseason, while youre thinking Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and whos the next offensive coordinator, remind yourself of one thing. Last offseason the Cowboys lost Zac Robinson, Dez Bryant and brought in Dana Holgorsen to coordinate offense. And things turned out pretty well. Trust in the man whos running things. Gundys track record is pretty good.