Head Coach | Mike Gundy
Coaching Changes | Dana Holgorsen left his job as OC after last season to become the Head-Coach-In-Waiting at West Virginia (he's now just plain Head Coach). He is succeeded by Todd Monken, whose last job was with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Receivers Coach.
2010 Record | 11-2 (6-2) Big 12 Record
Returning Starters | The 'Pokes return 14 starters, with nine of them on the offensive side of the ball. This includes the entire offensive line, starting QB Brandon Weeden, and Biltenikoff Award winner/All-American WR Justin Blackmon. The defense was hit much harder, losing six starters, five of them in the front seven.
Key Additions | Oklahoma State pulled in a class that Rivals ranked #28 in the country. It features two four star recruits, RB Herchel Sims, and QB J.W. Walsh, both from Texas. Barring injury, neither looks to compete for starting minutes this season. OSU grabbed two Juco players to solidify their depleted defensive front: DT Marcus Hayes and DE Ryan Robinson. Both are labeled 3 star players, but there will be a wealth of minutes to go around on the defensive line, which returns only one starter, and both could compete for PT if they make a smooth transition to the D1 game.
Impact Offensive Player | Justin Blackmon - This pick is a no-brainer, as the junior wideout and Biletnikoff Award winner was named a first team All-American in 2010 after hauling in 111 receptions for 1782 yards and 20 TDs. These numbers are despite missing a game against a porous K-State defense due to a one-game suspension. Quarterback Brandon Weeden had an incredible 2010 season as well, and also be vital to the team's sucess.
Impact Defensive Player | Johnny Thomas - Thomas is a legitimate NFL prospect at safety. As a junior, he racked up 63 tackles, forced two fumbles, and picked off three passes. OSU also returns an excellent corner in Markelle Martin, who will be entering his third season as a starter as a senior this year.
There isn't much to say about Oklahoma State's offense they didn't already say on the field last year. OSU finished first in the Big 12 in scoring offense, passing offense, and total offense. Despite the heavy reliance on the pass, they also averaged 175 yards/game on the ground.
Considering they return nine starters, including the quarterback, All-American wide receiver, and all five offensive linemen, it's safe to say the offense will be opponent's focus when preparing for the Cowboys this season. They do have to find a replacement for fourth round draft pick Kendall Hunter, and a player of some interest to Kansas fans will be filling his shoes in Joseph Randle. KU football faithful will remember Joseph's brother John from the early 2000s, when he showed flashes of immense potential at running back, although off-the-field issues ultimately led to the demise of his football career.
With Hunter's departure, OSU will likely throw the ball that much more, which they are well equipped to do. Blackmon is joined at receiver by Josh Cooper, who had a solid season of his own in 2010 with 68 catches for 736 yards. Barring injury, this looks to be a passing attack that would make Mike Leach envious, and opposing defenses will have their hands full.
Oklahoma State finished sixth in the conference in scoring defense last year, and a surprising second in rushing defense. Okie State's quick-scoring offense no doubt forced opponents to pass a bit more than usual to keep up, but allowing just 133 yards/game on the ground is solid regardless. The problem is, the Cowboys return just one starter on the D-line, and one starting linebacker. OSU's depth is not as impressive on the defensive side of the ball, so simply plugging in new talent won't be easy.
The pass defense ranked 11th in the conference last year, but again, this is somewhat skewed by opponents frequently finding themselves playing catch-up to OSU. They return two potential pros in Markelle Martin and Johnny Thomas, so the secondary finds itself in reasonable shape.
That said, if anything prevents Okie State from repeating their 11-win season last year, it will be this side of the ball. They ended up eighth in the conference in yards allowed last season, and losing most of one's front seven rarely improves a defense's performance. Oklahoma State fans will need to be ready to hear the word "shootout" a LOT this year.