The Oklahoma State Cowboys have a lot to be looking forward to next season. Even after a tough loss to the Oregon Ducks 42-31 in the Holiday Bowl, the young Cowboys finished 9-4 (5-3).
The first time in school history that the Pokes have won five conference games, Zac Robinson now has the opportunity to lead the Cowboys to new heights. After exceeding expectations this season, all eyes are on the fall of 2009 when Robinson and company step back onto the field in Boone T. Pickens Stadium to play Georgia in the season opener.
Expectations are exceedingly high now after the 2008 season especially after a huge win over once number three Missouri (28-23) and a close loss to then number one Texas (24-28). The Cowboys got thrashed by Texas Tech's explosive offense (20-56) and with a misleading loss to now No. 1 and Bedlam rivals Oklahoma (61-41).
The Pokes only three losses in conference came against the top three teams who all happened to be ranked in the top three nationally. The Cowboys only non-conference loss was to Oregon in the Holiday Bowl who was the second best team in the Pac-10.
Oklahoma State brings back a large amount of talent to the field next season including the senior Robinson, junior receivers Dez Bryant and Damian Davis, senior running back Keith Toston, and sophomore running back Kendall Hunter.
Bryant and Hunter are the only two first team All-Americans on the Pokes roster and both will be returning next season to hopefully lead Oklahoma State to its first ten win season.
Coming back defensively for the Cowboys are senior corner-back and special teams star Parrish Cox and senior linebackers Patrick Lavine, Orie Lemon, and Andre Sexton. A young defense once again will be the key factor for the Cowboys next season, but with provided depth hopefully it will be a productive year.
The only big areas that will need replacing will be the majority of the defensive line and secondary, along with a replacement tight end since Brandon Pettigrew is graduating and on to the NFL.
Along with hiring a new defensive coordinator or making one of his staff members that position, head coach Mike Gundy needs to recruit well to not only set up the Cowboys for next season but for the future as well.
Gundy has already managed to sign a large amount of junior college players to fill role's immediately while the coaching staff develop the incoming freshman.
Leadership will not be an issue for the Cowboys with the amount of upcoming seniors they have, Zac Robinson is already known as the leader of the Cowboy offense, if they were without Robinson this high firing offense might possibly be at a stand still.
They Cowboys have a chance to make a statement next season, with the possibility of being ranked in the top 25 to top 15 teams in the country; the Cowboys have a chance to do what they have never been capable of doing in many years, making a run for not only a BCS Bowl but quite possibly the BCS Championship, as long a shot as it is for them to get there, the Cowboys will soon get their well earned chance to find out.