A subtle confidence
But 40 minutes with Mike Gundy and an hour with about 30 Oklahoma State players on Saturday led to the same conclusion: Confidence has spread like a rumor across the Oklahoma State program.
The OSU coach put what that means into words at his media day news conference.
“I think the one interesting part of this team over the last few months is, not that they expected people to say you’re going to be good, but honestly, I don’t think they care,” Gundy said. “I think they’ve gotten used to that.”
The No. 11 preseason ranking is OSU’s highest in the coaches poll since 2011. And while Oklahoma State was not picked to win the Big 12, like it was in 2013, this team seems to have a greater belief it can accomplish that feat.
“I don’t think there’s any question that we have more confidence now than we’ve ever had,” Gundy said. “And that comes from success in anything we do. People that have success at certain things, they develop more confidence and you run with it.”
Cowboys’ confidence extends to cornerback
Oklahoma State’s defense has had its moments in practice over the course of the first week of fall camp.
“I feel better now about our corners than I did when we started,” Gundy said. “I’m seeing guys that are very competitive. And their success, based on their youth, now will all be (based) on a pass rush. We’ve got to be able to get to that guy and not leave them out there for a long period of time.”
The cornerback position was perhaps the largest question mark for OSU entering camp. Not only is Oklahoma State coming off a season in which it ranked 89th nationally in yards allowed per attempt, the Cowboys don’t have any returning starters at the position.
Still, sophomore A.J. Green, redshirt freshman Rodarius Williams, graduate transfer Adrian Baker and sophomore Madre Harper lead the way at the position.
Still waiting at running back
Oklahoma State completed its second practice in full pads Saturday morning. The Cowboys are still a week from their first major scrimmage.
So when Gundy was asked about whether OSU has a backup for Justice Hill, he rattled off each of OSU’s scholarship running backs in his answer.
“I like what (Ja’Ron Wilson’s) doing,” he said. “(LD Brown’s) getting better. (Jeff) Carr is still there; he’s better than what he was. There’ll be a small role for him at times. And I like the freshmen. I see promise there. But we have not seen enough to say it yet, of who would be that guy.”
While Hill ran for more than 1,100 yards last season, part of the reason he could stay fresh through the end of the year was Chris Carson. Carson, now with the Seattle Seahawks, ran for 559 yards on 6.8 yards per carry.
Either of OSU’s freshmen, J.D. King or Chuba Hubbard, could have the most upside. But Wilson, a redshirt freshman, might end up as OSU’s top choice for a power back.
And Brown, who came in from DeSoto, Texas, last season with Hill, might offer OSU something extra with his speed.
“LD has been a pretty good runner and at times has been successful,” Gundy said. “He needs to take care of the ball and prove to us he can take care of the ball. So we’re not there yet, but I like what we’re working with.”
— Mark Cooper, Tulsa World