2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-21
Cowboys have improved each of the last three
seasons, and are in the midst of a genuine
ascension towards the top of the Big 12
conference. Head coach Les Miles is much
of the reason why. He has instilled a winning
attitude at the university and has implemented
a system that has prompted success. Like
most prominent head coaches, Miles has surrounded
himself with knowledgeable assistants, like
offensive coordinator Mike Gundy. The former
Poke quarterback has worked well with Fields,
and his predecessor Asi Pogi. His schemes
and offensive intricacies have worked wonders.
Need proof? The Cowboys scored over 38 points
nine times in 2003, and over 50 on three
different occasions. But, conversely, they
need to stop offenses themselves, something
not consistently done in '03.
the Big 12, which is routinely one of the
most competitive conferences in college
football, is no easy task. Nationally established
programs like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State
and Nebraska have had a chokehold on the
league for years, but teams like OSU seem
to be easing their grip. It takes a talented,
and almost more importantly, an experienced
team to compete for the conference championship,
and unlike in years past, it looks like
State has both. Eighteen returning starters
highlight the veteran group, and in addition
to having learned the subtle foibles of
the sport, they have learned how to win.
The current seniors have wins over three
top ten teams on their resumes, and have
increased the school's win total in each
of their years on campus. With leaders like
Fields, Mayes, Williams, and the new Woods',
the potential is unlimited.
that defense is truly the key to winning
in the Big 12, and OSU has yet to establish
any trends of units that can stop foes when
most needed. Sure, they win a big one (or
two) annually, but they likewise/regularly
lose those critical games that could mean
that upper echelon. It is all dependent
on the secondary for '04 - you will be able
to measure the team's fate by following
their defensive performances, especially
the run-stoppers' consistency levels. You
will know early on if they have the metal
to challenge OU, Nebraska, and Texas (all
powerhouses again) as needed. More will
have to be done, though, for State to climb
these proverbial mountains that double as
college football programs.
2004 record: 7-4
Josh Fields, 338-184-12, 2494 yds., 21 TD
Rushing: Vernand Morency, 135 att.,
918 yds., 8 TD
Receiving: DJuan Woods, 31
rec., 479 yds., 1 TD
Scoring: Vernand Morency, 8 TD, 48
Punting: Cole Farden, 52 punts.,
Tackles: Paul Duren, 97 tot., 51
solo, 3 TFL
Sacks: Pagitte McGee, 2 sacks. Marque
Fountain, 2 sacks
Interceptions: Darrent Williams,
5 for 130 yds.
Kickoff Returns: Robert Jones, 17
ret., 19.7 avg.
Punt Returns: Darrent Williams, 13
ret., 17.9 avg., 2 TD
Matt Hardison-OT, Rashaun Woods-WR, Gabe Lindsay-WR,
Tatum Bell-TB, Luke Phillips-K
Richmond-DE, Khreem Smith-DE, Antonio Smith-DE,
Fath' Carter-SS, Elbert Craig-WS
On a team full of battle-tested veterans, senior
Josh Fields fits the mold perfectly. Though he
can be erratic at times, the stocky gunslinger
will be one of the conferences elite quarterbacks.
For State to progress to the next level, however,
Fields must improve his field awareness. At times,
he looked as if he had regressed some in that
department as a junior, and in the Cowboys three
regular season losses, his mishaps were magnified.
With two complete seasons now under his belt,
maturity and experience should aide his occasional
inconsistencies. Given the gaudy statistics he
has recorded during his tenure, expect a stellar
senior season from the in-state product. After
Fields, the depth has promise and name-recognition.
Sophomore Jamie Beeghley played sparingly during
his first season but not enough to warrant much
attention. Aside from Fields, he is the only returning
Cowboy quarterback with any game experience. Highly
touted freshman Robert Reid arrived on campus
early, just as Donovan Woods, brother of Rashaun
and D'Jaun, is eagerly anticipated. It's all good,
All Vernan Morencey needed was a chance. With
starter Tatum Ball out for the final two regular
season games, the freshman stepped up and rushed
for over 225 yards in consecutive outings. Morencey's
low center of gravity compliments his north-south
running style. What separates Morencey from other
underclassmen skill-position players is that he
understands the game well and adjusts it to his
comforts. Look for him to become a household name
in Stillwater rather quickly. Senior Seymore Shaw
provides quality depth - look for him to become
the short yardage back. Shawn Willis a proven
lead blocker, and also brings agility and a knack
for the endzone to the stable.
D'Jaun Woods isn't Rashaun Woods, but he could
be. The younger sibling of the All-American made
promising strides during his first season and
should take a huge step towards stardom this year.
In many ways, 2003 was a season of familiarity
and transition for Woods. With the freshman tutorial
now over and his confidence budding, look for
him to flourish. Finding someone to step up aside
him is a major off-season priority. No other returning
receiver boasts any meaningful statistics, thus
the supporting cast is not bankable by any means.
Incoming freshman Seth Newton has all of the physical
tools and should be given the reps to emerge as
a major player in the rotation, but one of the
veteran returnees must assert themselves. D'Jaun
isn't good enough to carry the entire team, just
as his brother tried to do the same and they finished
79th in passing offense.
Billy Bajema is a primed for a big season. As
a junior, he developed into a pertinent part of
the Cowboy offense, and with the lack of proven
talent at receiver, his skills become increasingly
more important. Charlie Johnson is a nice second
option and stands as a towering downfield target.
He could find himself with favorable defensive
match-ups as a second receiving tight end. Regardless,
the team will freeze LBs and safeties in two-TE
formations that are passing plays, thus the entire
offense will open up when OSU establishes such
early and teams then get caught looking for it.
As a group, the front line is relatively unheralded.
Regardless, they are efficient, and with four
starters returning, the battle at the line of
scrimmage should be a definite Cowboy strength.
Three-year starting guard Sam Mayes is the leader
of the group, a real road-grader, and he mauls
opponents with his menacing size. Feisty Ben Buie
returns at center, and will team with Mayes, and
guard Chris Akin, to create a formidable interior.
The tackles are a bit undersized, and must use
their agility and footwork to hinder pass rushers.
This is essentially the same crew that blew huge
enough holes such that the team's season average
was over five yards per carry to rank 11th nationally
in rushing offense. Factor in that they also gave
up but 17 sacks, and you see why we are so high
on them and therefore, OSU's chances.
The pieces are in place for OSU to have one of
the most explosive offenses in the Big 12. Seven
returning starters bring experience and confidence
to the field, and having a senior leader like
Fields managing the game will prove valuable.
The offensive line understands the/their game,
which bodes well for Morencey, who will accordingly
show he wasn't a flash in the pan. Most importantly,
another receiver must prove his worth, and a backup
quarterback will emerge. The framework is set,
so all these guys have to do is produce.
STATE 2004 DEPTH CHART
Josh Fields-Sr (baseball)
Collectively, this unit needs a spark. And they
will get one in the form of Antonio Smith. He
is the team's most proven pass rusher, and will
have to improve his play even more than he already
has, as he now becomes the focus at defensive
end. He is crucial to the line's effectiveness.
Clay Coe will anchor the middle, and has enough
to beef to be a viable interior force. He must,
and will, become a more active, penetrating playmaker,
and will benefit from a talented partner. The
Cowboys need more than a space-eater aside Coe,
they need production. The ones tapped for that
inside assignment are smallish and not up-to-snuff.
But end Marque Fountain showed much potential
as a freshman, enough to start as one, and he
will again prove himself worthy. The 2003 line
was mediocre, so this revamping is just what Doc
Paul Duren is a proven, quality talent. He broods
leadership, and also makes plays. For the second
consecutive season, he led the team in the tackles.
Victor DeGrade came out of nowhere as a freshman
and immediately upgraded the position. He brings
athleticism to the lineup and allows his teammates
more freedom because of his speed and quickness.
Pagittie McGee is a player to watch as he as continued
to progress during his first two seasons. Because
of the Cowboys' primary 4-2-5 defensive scheme,
depth is good here. But since this corps sorely
underachieved last time around, they now have
their work cut out for them if the Cowboys ever
want to become a first-tier Big XII team, eh.
Without question, this is the strength of the
defense, especially returning three senior and
two junior starters. Darrent Williams, an All-Big
12 performer from a year ago, leads the way. He
finished third in the league in interceptions
with six (two for TDs). Simply put, he is a playmaker,
and makes opposing quarterbacks think twice (17
passes brokenup). Robert Jones is a formidable
second corner, and should be even more productive
in his second season after transferring from junior
college. Though a bit undersized, Vernon Grant
is the best tackler of the bunch. He is adequate
in pass defense, but likes to be physical and
play as a pseudo-LB near the line. Players like
him make the Cowboys' unconventional defensive
alignment work. A player to watch is Jamar Ransom.
Built like a truck, the junior was a viable part
of the rotation in 2003, and is primed to become
a fixture in the secondary. He has linebacker
size, but more than enough speed to excel in coverage.
Much work to be done here in spring ball. OSU
ranked 78th in total defense in '03, giving up
221 points to five opponents' offenses, all defeats
but two. The Cowboys went 5-3 to end, giving up
34 points per tilt in the process. The back-seven
is strong, with Duren and Williams roaming free,
but the crux of the group will be the defensive
line. As a unit, they don't have to overwhelm,
they just need to be resourceful. Managing the
line of scrimmage, rather than dominating it,
would avoid over-pursuit and therefore allow the
playmakers behind them to take advantage of their
skills. If the front-four can do that, the OSU
defense will be much improved. This side of the
ball is the team's key to success in 2004.
STATE 2004 DEPTH CHART
With reliable veteran Luke Phillips now gone, the staff
will be forced to hand the duties to an untested newcomer.
Incoming freshman Jason Ricks, who happens to be a remarkable
athlete, could get the early nod. He was 13-of-15 as
a prep senior and had a 49-yard boot to his credit.
Redshirt freshman Luke Roberts is the other option.
Cole Farden is an excellent punter. He has the leg strength
to reverse field position woes and will likely be one
of the league's best punters in 2004. He is a true weapon.
The kick-return unit is virtually anticlimactic, though
Robert Jones and Vernan Morencey have potential. Darrent
Williams will be an exciting punt return man. He averaged
an astounding 17.9 yards per return, which would have
ranked him tops in the conference had he had enough
touches to qualify. He scored twice on returns as a
junior and enters his final season as one of the premier
return men in the nation.