As we are less than a week away from the start of the 2016 College Football season, let’s take a look at the keys that would allow Oklahoma State to have a successful year.

Rudolph Continues to Mature

Last year, Mason Rudolph was the starting QB on a team that went 10–3 and to a major bowl game. He threw for 21 TDs and 3,770 yards. He was not, however, THE MAN. That title belonged to then Senior J.W. Walsh, the unquestionable heart of the 2015 #okstate team.
Walsh was brought in during a majority of Red Zone opportunities, especially inside the 10-yard line. He was very successful in this role, helping the team, but also limiting Rudolph’s own scoring opportunities.
This year, Walsh is gone and Rudolph is the man. As the season progressed, Rudolph showed great maturity, improving in performances, culminating in a route of TCU, in Stillwater. Other than a shaky game in Texas, Rudolph was also quite remarkable on the road.
As a true Junior, and the unquestioned LEADER of this year’s team, Rudolph must continue to progress and mature, especially as the bulk of the Cowboys toughest games are on the road.

Run the Football

For the last two seasons, Oklahoma State was outright awful at running the ball. As a team, they averaged only 126/game at a feeble 3.6 yards per carry.
The good news (maybe) for Cowboy fans, however, is that the every O-Lineman returns, as well as their top 2 returning RBs in Chris Carson and Rennie Childs. They also return Sophomore Jeff Carr, as well as Freshman Justice Hill and Barry J. Sanders, who is a graduate transfer from Stanford.
All in all, the verdict is still out on this stable of horses, but anything that improves upon last year’s performance is necessary to keep Rudolph and the passing game in good position.

Pass Rush

Gone are Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean, two of Oklahoma State’s best pass rushers in recent memory. Both were forces to be reckoned with on the ends and the Cowboys need to replace that rush in order to help a thin line of outside corners. The defense overall seems to be in fair shape and depth for coordinator Glenn Spencer, but having an effective pass rush from the likes of Jordan Brailford and Jarrell Owens would pay huge dividends for this D.

With the conference schedule including trips to Waco, Ft. Worth, Manhattan and Norman, the Cowboys need to be playing at the top of their game in order to have a real chance at a Big 12 Title. Watching the team progress through the non-conference schedule; especially the run game and pass rushes should clue us in to how well the Cowboys can compete in the Wild Big 12.