Time to continue our series breaking down each team's best and worst positions entering the 2012 season. Oklahoma State is up next.
More spring superlatives:
Strongest position: Running back
Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden threw the ball more than all but one quarterback (Case Keenum, Houston; Seth Doege, Texas Tech) in college football last year, but look for those pass-attempt numbers to dip a bit in 2011 for the Cowboys.
First, Weeden is gone. Second, Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith have more than proved they're capable of producing big numbers. Look for the offense to lean on the junior duo next year a bit more as Oklahoma State breaks in a new quarterback, whoever wins the competition between Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt.
The pass attempts may go down, but look for Randle's 1,216 yards (second in the Big 12 in 2011) to go up next season. He also ran for 24 touchdowns. Smith added 646 yards and nine touchdowns, and those numbers could go up, too. OSU won't suddenly shift to a completely different offense, but these two are going to make the QB transition much easier. Sophomore Herschel Sims should add even more depth after a strong freshman year with extremely limited touches.
Weakest position: Defensive line
Oklahoma State lost two great pass-rushers in Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones, who combined for 12 sacks last season and were first and second on the team. There are no elite pass-rushers or players with a ton of potential waiting in the wings. Getting a pass rush will have to be up to some crafty blitz packages. Cooper Bassett and Ryan Robinson, both seniors, will get the first crack at replacing Blatnick and Jones, but it's tough to see the duo coming close to what its predecessors did.
Inside, defensive tackle was a weakness for OSU last year, and Nigel Nicholas returns, but he's moved to defensive end. Power rushing attacks like Texas A&M, Stanford and Texas gave Oklahoma State tons of trouble last year. Anthony Rogers and Davidell Collins begin the spring as starters, but James Castleman and Christian Littlehead should be major contributors, too. We'll see if juco transfer Calvin Barnett can make an impact in a much-needed position.