Mailbag: Oklahoma State edition

Miss your team's Mailbag? Here's the three we've covered so far:

Robert Miller in Stillwater, Okla., asks: David, good ongoing read on the Big XII's best players. I didn't really take the rankings themselves in as much as the synopsis of each player. It was a nice distraction from realignment and offseason penalties...and Jerrod Johnson IS a beast. On to my Pokes question - how do you see the hiring of Holgorsen at OC playing out? Specifically, can it pay off as much (and as quickly) as Bill Young's recipe for "instant defense"?

David Ubben: I think so. Oklahoma State’s offense was solid last season and stellar before that, twice being in the top 10 nationally in scoring since 2006. Point is, it has the pieces to do it. There’s no reason they can’t do it again. We’ll get to the why as we move through the Mailbag.

Gabe in Dallas, Texas, asks: Can Brandon Weeden be better than Zac Robinson? He definitely has more arm strength imo.

DU: They’re such different quarterbacks, it’s tough to say who’ll be “better.” Weeden should surpass Robinson’s passing numbers, but passing wasn’t the only thing Robinson’s going to be remembered for. Weeden, likely to start for the next two seasons, may not touch Robinson’s 8,317 career passing yards, but Robinson’s season career high was 3,064 yards in 2008. I’d be surprised if Weeden doesn’t surpass that easily this season. In Holgorsen’s version of the Air Raid offense, any outlandish numbers mean Weeden’s going to inevitably draw the label of “system quarterback” just like a handful of others at Texas Tech and Houston’s Case Keenum. But if Oklahoma State wins big in the next two seasons and finds its way into a BCS bowl, Cowboys fans probably won’t care about the label. And like most quarterbacks, he’ll be ultimately judged by the Cowboys’ win total. No labels -- accurate or not -- will keep him from being considered a better quarterback by plenty of folks if the offense carries the Cowboys to a season like that.

Michael Townsend in Manitowoc, Wis., asks: David, As an Oklahoma St. alum, I would like nothing more than for the Cowboys to get out from the Texas/Oklahoma shadow and become a competitive figure in the Big 12. Do you see this happening any time soon, considering the loss of talent from last year? Thanks.

DU: Big picture, I don’t see that happening as long as Mack Brown and Bob Stoops are coaching down south. The yearly recruiting rankings -- which also don’t look likely to change -- mean the Cowboys would have to annually exceed expectations to do it, and that might be a little much to ask. Last season was the first time Oklahoma State had finished higher than Oklahoma in the Big 12 South standings, and Mike Gundy has never finished above Texas, but there’s no reason he can’t do it for a season every now and then in the future. With the amount of questions for both teams this year that could have unfavorable answers, it wouldn’t be completely out of the question for it to happen this year. I wouldn’t bet on it, but it wouldn’t shock me.

UPDATE: Got a couple e-mails from Oklahoma State fans noting the 1997 and 1998 finishes over Oklahoma. Reading back through this, I didn't make it clear enough that I was speaking about the Brown/Stoops Eras only. Sorry about that, but the reference in the first sentence didn't make that clear.

John in Broken Arrow, Okla., asks: With the new offensive scheme being put into place at Oklahoma State who do you see replacing Dez Bryant as OSU's go to wide receiver this year? Will it be Tracy Moore or Hubert Anyiam or do you believe a new comer will come out and perform well?

DU: Anyiam, because he’s been that guy before. In this new system, it wouldn’t surprise me if a guy like Moore or a shiftier slot receiver who knew how to use the open space underneath well like Josh Cooper came out of nowhere to lead the team in receiving. He’d have to be reliable in that space, catch everything and make Weeden more comfortable making the throws underneath versus forcing it to the wideouts. But Anyiam was really, really impressive last year after Bryant was suspended. I know his production tapered toward the end of the season, but without him, Oklahoma State would have had a much different season in 2009. He obliterated Missouri’s secondary and caught early touchdowns in close wins against Texas A&M and Texas Tech. If he plays like he did in the middle of the season for an entire year, he could put up big time numbers.

Zack Thiel in Hinton, Okla., asks: What are the odds that Kendall Hunter leads the big 12 in rushing? and Brandon Weeden in passing?

DU: Not great for Hunter in rushing, just because guys like Alexander Robinson and Daniel Thomas, my two co-favorites to lead the league, will get a lot more carries. But Hunter will get plenty of touches in the passing game and he and Baron Batch at Texas Tech should be in the running for the league lead in total yardage if he stays healthy.

Weeden’s got a great shot to lead the league in passing, but Steven Sheffield, Blaine Gabbert and Jerrod Johnson will be right there, too. It’s worth noting that Keenum threw the ball 697 times last season, 122 attempts more than any other quarterback in the nation. Weeden won’t throw it that much, but he’s got a good shot at leading the Big 12 in attempts. If that happens, it’ll obviously help his chances at leading the league in passing yards.

Tony M in Seattle, Wash., asks: Hey David im a big fan of you and Oklahoma State. But there is talk about osu going to the north to even things out in the "big 12". I was just wondering what your input on that is.

DU: There’s been some confusion on this. Bill Snyder’s been campaigning a bit recently to split the league up into two five-team divisions, but that’s little more than a ploy to avoid playing Texas and Oklahoma every season. It’s still fluid, but the most likely scenario in the new 10-team Big 12 is a division-less, nine-game round-robin schedule and an 18-game conference schedule in basketball where each team plays every team twice. For me, that just means no more complaints about the lack of coverage for the Big 12 North -- since it won’t exist. Although others might suggest the Big 12 Blog has operated as if that’s been the case for some time.