Did you know: While Texas has 10 returning starters on offense, each of Oklahoma State’s projected starters has at least one career start under his belt.
What to watch
Crumbling edge: Three of the four players on the two-deep at defensive end for Oklahoma State have never started a game. Plus OSU might have a first-time starter at linebacker in Ryan Simmons. So a defense that has been known to give up some big numbers is having to replace players at impactful positions.
Clint Chelf is likely to be the starting quarterback for Oklahoma State. But based on history, it's difficult to project whether he'll be behind center by November.
Quarterback shuffle: Wes Lunt has transferred to Illinois, leaving Oklahoma State with two choices at quarterback. The first, and the one Mike Gundy went with, is Clint Chelf. Oddly enough, Chelf was the third choice just a year ago behind Lunt and J.W. Walsh. Now it is Walsh, whom Texas passed over in favor of David Ash, backing up Chelf. Do not be surprised if Oklahoma State uses both quarterbacks, as Walsh is the more dynamic runner of the two and can be a change-of-pace player. Plus, Gundy has proven that he is not exactly steadfast in his commitment to either player.
Passing proficiency: While the quarterback picture might be muddled, what is not is the production of that position under Gundy. Oklahoma State had three players each throw for more than 1,000 yards last season. That is the first time any school in the country had accomplished that feat since 1996. No doubt both remaining quarterbacks will have a chance to throw for 1,000 yards in 2013.
View from the other side: Gina Mizell, Oklahoma State beat writer for The Oklahoman
HN: So there has been a shakeup at quarterback. Do you anticipate Mike Gundy being attached to one guy all year or could we see two QBs play at OSU this year?
Mizell: Wes Lunt's transfer theoretically cements Clint Chelf as the starter for 2013 (whether Gundy talks about it in the preseason or not). But expect to see J.W. Walsh in the same short-yardage and goal-line package he was used in during the stretch run of last season, when he came back from his knee injury. That was the plan all along last season, but the injury-driven quarterback carousel obviously made that practically impossible for a large chunk of it. It will also be interesting to see what new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich brings to the Walsh package. His QB at Shippensburg ran a little bit, so he may be able to bring some wrinkles to that look. If Chelf struggles mightily, could Gundy yank him and put Walsh in full-time? Sure, especially because Gundy loves Walsh's gritty mentality when he's on the field. But Walsh has a role no matter what. It won't be a full-blown dual-quarterback system with Chelf as the starter, but both will play.
HN: Can Joseph Randle's production be replaced by someone in 2013?
Mizell: Many believe Jeremy Smith would have started on several Big 12 teams the past two seasons. He was a great complement back to Randle during that time. He's more of a tough, downhill runner, but has deceptive speed. (Texas fans should remember when he busted through the middle for two long touchdowns in 2011). His problem, however, has been staying healthy. Nagging injuries have slowed him at times the last two seasons, which aren't a big deal when you're the backup, but it becomes a huge deal when you're the starter, especially when the backs behind him are relatively inexperienced. He also doesn't catch the ball nearly as well as Randle does. Smith isn't the same type of dynamic, versatile weapon as Randle, but I expect him to have a very productive senior season. He's waited a long time for this chance.
HN: What expectations does new defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer bring to the team?
Mizell: We heard about a commitment to a more aggressive style all throughout the spring. This should be most noticeable in the secondary, where the corners are expected to play much tighter coverage after leaving big cushions for receivers to catch the ball last season (starters Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown accounted for a grand total of zero interceptions). Most of all, Gundy says the new defensive philosophy is just about an attitude. We'll see how that translates on the field.
HN: Incoming freshman wide receiver Ra'Shaad Samples turned some heads with a 4.32-second 40-yard dash. Will he be an impact player in 2013?
Mizell: He and fellow four-star true freshman Marcell Ateman are expected to play right away. But the Cowboys have a lot of returners at receiver in Josh Stewart (statistically the Big 12's best returning receiver), Tracy Moore (back after medically redshirting last season), Blake Jackson, Charlie Moore, Austin Hays and others. If you want a youngster from that group to look out for, sophomore Brandon Sheperd may be your guy. He got rave reviews during the spring.
HN: In the past three years, how much more effective has OSU been in grabbing recruits who formerly only looked at Texas, OU and the other traditional powers?
Mizell: OSU's success in the past 4-5 years certainly has attracted more "star" talent, particularly at the offensive skill positions. Samples and Ateman are the most recent examples of that. But the Cowboys coaching staff has also been known for player development and turning two- and three-star prospects into productive players.