Big 12: Bobby Stonebraker

Opening camp: Oklahoma State Cowboys

August, 2, 2013
This is going to be a fascinating season in Stillwater, and the work (at least as a team, with coaches watching) begins today.

Let's have a closer look:

Schedule: Oklahoma State opens fall camp today after players reported on Thursday. They'll be working toward an afternoon opener on Aug. 31 in Houston at Reliant Stadium against Mississippi State.

Setting the scene: OSU won the Big 12 title back in 2011 and had a top-10 team preparing for a big-time opener back in 2009, but the hype around the Cowboys will be a lot different during this camp. They were an afterthought behind OU and Texas entering 2009 and were picked third in the league behind OU and Texas A&M in 2011. With a solid opponent waiting at the end of camp, the focus and urgency is always there during camp.

All eyes on: The coordinators. Mike Gundy brought in Mike Yurcich from the Division II ranks to run what's essentailly Dana Holgorsen's system. Linebackers coach Glenn Spencer was promoted to defensive coordinator after Gundy let Bill Young go at the end of a disappointing 2012 season defensively. Yurcich says he wants to go even faster than Holgorsen and 2012 coordinator Todd Monken, now the head coach at Southern Miss. Spencer balks at the suggestion that his defense will simply be more aggressive, but it'll be interesting to see what OSU preps in the next month ahead of that game against Mississippi State.

Key battle: Whatever you do, do not underestimate the impact of the guys whose feet touch the ball just a few times a game. Look no further than the 2011 upset loss to Iowa State for evidence of that. Quinn Sharp is gone, and now OSU is left to find a new punter, place kicker and kickoff specialist. Making matters tougher is Sharp was the best in the Big 12 at all three. Kip Smith is trying to win the punting and kicking jobs, but Michael Reichenstein (punter) and Bobby Stonebraker (kicker) will be competing as well. They've been Sharp's backups, and newcomer Ben Grogan joins the team for fall camp, too.

On the mend: Justin Gilbert's psyche. The cornerback looked like a rising star in his first year as a starter in 2011, but took big steps backward last season and got called out for his play by his head coach. He's as physically gifted as any corner in the league, even though his cover skills still leave a bit to be desired. The race for the Big 12's top cornerback by season's end will be interesting, but Gundy has expressed encouragement lately for Gilbert's progress since last year's rough go-around. He's got some good corners around him. Kevin Peterson is likely to win the starting job for the No. 2 corner, but Ashton Lampkin and Kansas transfer Tyler Patmon should provide some quality depth there.

Outlook: Oklahoma State brings back 14 starters from last season and for the first time in school history, has been picked to win the Big 12. "It's a tribute to a lot of players that have come before these guys that have worked hard," Gundy said. Expect OSU to be somewhere around No. 15 in the AP poll to start the season, but beginning the year with a target on their back is a brand new feeling for the Pokes.

Quotable: Gundy, on his approach of meddling "very little" in his coordinators' business. "I have a lot of confidence in the coaches on our staff and the decisions they make, and at the end of the day, they're the ones that have to instill it in the players in meetings and get it across to them on the practice field. They have to get them to perform on Saturday."

Offseason to-do list: Oklahoma State

January, 30, 2013
Every year, there's lots of turnover and change for every college program. What do the Big 12 teams need to do before next fall? Let's continue our look with the Cowboys up in Stilly.

1. Sort out the "mess" at quarterback. Let me be clear when I say this: Oklahoma State has a good problem at quarterback. It has three guys who I really think could win a Big 12 title in Stillwater next season, but you've got to make it clear that one is your guy. That's what this spring is about. Clint Chelf will take the tag of starter into his last spring practice as a Poke, but sophomores J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt will be right there challenging him. Again, this is a good problem to have, and these guys will all make each other better. I don't expect Walsh's short-yardage package to go anywhere regardless of who wins the job, but I still buy Lunt as the future of the position for Oklahoma State, as long as he stays healthy. The game will slow down for him in his second season, and the mistakes will lessen as a result.

2. Adjust to a new face leading the defense, and mature. The Pokes' defense wasn't awful this past season, but they're going to be loaded with talent in 2013. Can that become production? The defense brings back eight starters, headlined by CB Justin Gilbert, LB Shaun Lewis and DT Calvin Barnett. The secondary loses only Brodrick Brown, but Kevin Peterson is a promising player who can help that secondary bounce back from a disappointing 2012. Linebacker Alex Elkins is gone, but new coordinator Glenn Spencer slides into the role after coaching linebackers under Bill Young, who didn't have his contract renewed at the end of the season. Can Oklahoma State get back to forcing turnovers in bunches like it did under Young, but slow opposing offenses better than ever before?

3. Fill a gigantic hole in special teams. Quinn Sharp has done everything for Oklahoma State's special teams for the past two seasons and has been one of the Big 12's best kickers, punters and kickoff specialists all at once throughout that period. He emerged as a punter, but did a fantastic job in all of his roles after replacing Dan Bailey as kicker. Oklahoma State's had the luxury of not worrying about special teams with Sharp there, and it's hoping to have that continue. We'll see what happens this offseason when the Pokes try to replace Sharp. Oklahoma State actually has three kickers returning (Bobby Stonebraker, Matt Green, Cody Phillips) and one punter, Michael Reichenstein.

More offseason to-do lists:
It's time to officially unveil the Big 12's All-Name Team for 2012.

Any player on a current roster, regardless of role on the team, is eligible. The only requirement: Your name must be awesome.

These are, quite simply, the best names of players in the Big 12. Some are catchy. Some are fun to say. Some are just the best. I love all of these.

Here goes:

Coach: Major Applewhite, OC, Texas


QB: Daxx Garman, Oklahoma State
RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
RB: Brandon Bourbon, Kansas
FB: Glenn Gronkowski, Kansas State
WR: Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
WR: Lynx Hawthorne, Baylor
WR: Kolby Listenbee, TCU
TE: Kurt Hammerschmidt, Iowa State
OL: Dylan Admire, Kansas
OL: Will Ash, Kansas State
OL: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
OL: Blaize Foltz, TCU
OL: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech


DL: Keba Agostinho, Kansas
DL: Beau Blackshear, Baylor
DL: Noble Nwachukwu, West Virginia
DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU
LB/DE: Toben Opurum, Kansas
LB: Curtis Smelley, West Virginia
LB: Shaq Petteway, West Virginia
DB: Yves Batoba, Oklahoma State
DB: Terrance Bullitt, Texas Tech
DB: Happiness Osunde, Texas Tech
DB: Kip Daily, Kansas State


K: Bobby Stonebraker, Oklahoma State
P: Ryan Erxleben, Texas Tech

Who's your MVP? Anybody get snubbed?

The Big 12's Official 2011 All-Name team

August, 11, 2011
We talk about it constantly and haphazardly throw players on it, but here's your official 2011 All-Name team, courtesy of yours truly.

Any player on a current roster, regardless of role on the team, is eligible.

The only requirement: Your name must be awesome, for any number of reasons.


QB: Steele Jantz, Iowa State
RB: Mister Jones, Texas A&M
RB: Brandon Bourbon, Kansas
FB: Joel Ossom, Oklahoma
WR: Uzoma Nwachukwu, Texas A&M
WR: Jaz Reynolds, Oklahoma
TE: Trent Ratterree, Oklahoma
OL: Trevor Marrongelli, Kansas
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
OL: Austin Wuebbels, Missouri
OL: Spencer Drango, Baylor
OL: Manese Foketi, Kansas State


DL: Stephen Ruempolhamer, Iowa State
DL: Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, Baylor
DL: Pearlie Graves, Texas Tech
DL: James Castleman, Oklahoma State
LB: Toben Opurum, Kansas
LB: Tom Wort, Oklahoma
LB: Cqulin Hubert, Texas Tech
DB: Quandre Diggs, Texas
DB: Terrance Bullitt, Texas Tech
DB: Happiness Osunde, Texas Tech (formerly Junior Osunde)
DB: Sawyer Vest, Texas Tech


K: Bobby Stonebraker, Oklahoma State
P: Michael Reichenstein, Oklahoma State

Any snubs? Who's the MVP?