OSU's Backfield, Defense Key To 2012 Success

OSU linebacker Shaun Lewis poses for a picture during the team's media day Saturday afternoon inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Aside from Kansas State in 2011, any Big 12 team to achieve major success over the last decade came primarily through an effective passing game based out of a spread formation.

OSU was no exception last season when quarterback Brandon Weeden and wideout Justin Blackmon put up some of the best offensive numbers in college football.

And NFL teams rewarded that success by taking them in the first round of April's draft.

With Weeden being replaced by a true freshman in Wes Lunt, it represents one of the biggest question marks for the Cowboys entering 2012. It also means Oklahoma State must rely on other areas to have any chance of replicating last season's success.

"Our defense is more athletic and faster than since I've been here," said head coach Mike Gundy during Saturday afternoon's media day press conference.

"Which in my opinion should result in more plays and better production overall."

A sound defensive theory which seems to rarely hold up in the "video game" offensive numbers of the Big 12 Conference. But as mentioned at the beginning of this article, Kansas State went against that trend last season and still managed to win 10 games.

But the Wildcats weren't dealing with a true freshman starting at quarterback either. Per Mike Gundy's long-standing team policy, first year players aren't accessible to the media. But even the OSU head coach reluctantly admits there could be some early struggles for Lunt.

"Teams are going to blitz Lunt like crazy," according to Gundy. "If you've seen a freshman quarterback, any team in the country, no matter how good they were, if they had a freshman quarterback, the other team would try to make his day miserable."

Fortunately, the Cowboys have proven tailbacks in Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith. Both feel the new man under center is more than capable of leading this team to a successful 2012 campaign.

Randle said, "I don't know what [Lunt] did in high school. All I can tell you is he came in here and looked like he could play at this level."

We'll find out if Savannah State tries that "blitz the freshman" strategy when the Cowboys open the season September 1 in Stillwater.