Mike Gundy has a quarterback derby on his hands
What had the Pokes' head honcho feeling so chipper? It could be the excitement of a new hot shot from the Ivy League running his offense. Perhaps he remembered that he has a loaded group of wide receivers on his roster. Maybe it was the promise of a second season under defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who took some lumps in his first year on the job.
Here are five storylines that Gundy will be monitoring this spring. College football fans should pay attention to them as well.
5 Storylines to Watch During Oklahoma State's Spring Practice
1. Corndog's successor
Taylor Cornelius took all but six snaps at QB last season as a fifth-year senior for the Pokes. To say the contenders are unknowns would be an understatement.
One of those six snaps went to Dru Brown, a graduate transfer from Hawaii who's back for another year. The buzz around Stillwater has Brown likely running in second place behind redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders, though. Sanders certainly possesses the higher upside of the two, although the most talented of OSU's scholarship QBs may be incoming freshman Brendan Costello.
2. A Glee(son)-ful offense
Gundy once again went to the lower divisions to find a replacement for longtime offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. Sean Gleeson, formerly of the Princeton Tigers, got the nod.
Football scheme junkies naturally loved Gundy going off the beaten path to hire Gleeson. He starts the process of installing his offense this spring. We'll know soon enough how well his ideas are meshing with Gundy’s version of the spread.
3. Hubbard's running mate
OSU will enjoy the services of third-year sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard for at least another season. One of the more underrated RBs in the country, Hubbard teamed with Justice Hill last season to give the Cowboys a potent one-two punch in the backfield.
One bell cow won't be enough. Candidates to split carries with Hubbard include junior college transfer Dezmon Jackson and junior LD Brown. Both can get a jump on the competition this spring.
4. Stopping the run
The Cowboys muddled through Jim Knowles’ first season as defensive coordinator in 2018, finishing 75th overall in Defensive S&P+, an opponent-adjusted efficiency measure. That probably wasn’t what Gundy had in mind when he sacked veteran defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer after the 2017 season.
OSU had an especially tough time against the run, surrendering 4.62 yards per attempt. Knowles should make fortifying his ground defense priority No. 1 in spring ball.
5. New faces on the defensive line
Finding new rotation players up front will go a long way toward shoring up OSU's run D. The Cowboys are looking for new starters this spring across their four-man DL.
The biggest shoes to fill are likely at defensive end following Jordan Brailford's early declaration for the NFL draft. Rising senior Mike Scott notched three sacks last season and will likely take over for Brailford. Keep an ear out for news on the spring progress of Brock Martin and Colorado transfer Israel Antwine, too.
Knowles may spend the spring experimenting with a few players at different positions.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.