Oklahoma State Football: 5 Ways the Offense Will Shift Without Weeden, Blackmon
Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon led the most successful team in Oklahoma State football history in 2011. But now that those two are gone, the Cowboy offense will radically shift in many ways for 2012.
Losing two playmakers is never easy, and other players will have to pick up the slack. While the team as a whole will be more experienced this year, the experience at wide receiver and quarterback will be very limited. The shifts in the offense will help accommodate this lack of experience.
Here are five ways the Cowboys’ offense will shift in 2012.
Run the Ball More
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This might be the single easiest to see adjustment that the Cowboy coaching staff will make. But that doesn’t mean it is a legitimate move that will help the team.
The Cowboys have one of the best running back tandems in college football in Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith. While the loss of Herschel Sims does hurt the depth at the position, Desmond Roland should give Oklahoma State close to as much production as it got from Sims last season.
With a freshman quarterback starting who will still be learning to play Division I football, it makes sense to rely on the run game more. Especially when you have backs like Randle and Smith and an offensive line that can run-block so well.
Simplify the Passing Game
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Brandon Weeden knew the game of football well enough and was talented enough at it that he got drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. That essentially means that the Cleveland Browns thought he would be ready to start in the NFL immediately. Sorry folks, but Wes Lunt isn’t quite to that level yet.
And he shouldn’t be, especially since he’s fresh out of high school and a full decade younger than Weeden. He’s got the potential to be very, very good, but he won’t be as good as Weeden yet. That’s why the Cowboy passing game must be simplified, at least a little bit.
Take Less Risks
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With Weeden at the helm, the Cowboys were able to trust in him to make big plays at big moments in games. A few plays from last season come to mind like the long touchdown pass to Joseph Randle late in the Kansas State game and the crucial, game-turning fourth down completion in the Fiesta Bowl against Stanford.
Despite Wes Lunt’s talent, the coaches know they won’t be able to rely on him to make those types of plays right out of the gate. There will be a learning curve, and they can’t take as many risks. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous slide about simplifying the passing game.
Balance the Attack
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Even though the Cowboys did run the ball a lot more than most realized in 2011, the offense really was predicated on the Weeden2Blackmon connection that so many of us loved to watch. Now that that’s gone, the offensive load must be balanced out.
That doesn’t just mean that the Cowboys must run the ball more. It also means that they must balance the passing game out to more receivers. Many different receivers caught passes last season, but Blackmon caught 120 balls. They must understand that they won’t get that kind of production from anyone this season (at least not in the beginning) and must spread the ball around to many different guys.
More Varied Playcalling
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Another offense shift that will happen will be a greater variation in the plays that are called on the field. Teams have been watching the Cowboys run this offense for two full seasons now, and it will no longer take anyone by surprise. So, you’re probably asking, what does that have to do with the loss of Weeden and Blackmon?
Well, those two were good enough that you could know what they were going to do and still not stop them. That won’t happen this season. Wes Lunt and his receivers are all fairly green, with the main exception being Tracy Moore.
Continuing to have a successful offense will require the coaches to continue challenging themselves to be more and more creative with their offensive game plans. And I believe they’ll do just that.