October 27, 2006

Questions from the Corral

With the impressive performance of Zach Robinson last week, is there any chance he'll see more playing time? Ostatedchi

Not unless Bobby Reid suffers another injury, or OSU gets in a blowout game. Robinson's performane, given the circumstances, was outstanding. Reid is the unquestioned starting quarterback and will continue to be through the rest of the season. The last thing one of the Big 12's top offenses needs is a quarterback controversy in the middle of the conference slate.

What Robinson's performance does is allow the coaching staff to know in advance that if he's forced into action again this season, they don't need to scale back the offensive gameplan at all.

What effect do you think our record and current problems closing out games is going to have on any of our current committments and our future recruiting? theoldcowboy

Wins and losses affect recruiting, there is no question about that.

Among the current commitent list, the OSU coaching staff used an approach that said basically "We're still a young team, but we'll be a lot better than last year." By most standards, that is very clearly still a quite true statement. Failing to close out a few games and have a prettier won-loss record does provide a chink in the armor that allows opposing coaches to take shots at OSU verbals.

As far as how the future plays out, it still remains to be seen. With one exception, the commitments who were there at the start of the season are still there. There's a lot of football left to be played. I think a bowl trip - any bowl - allows the Cowboy coaches to continue recruiting as they have been. Failure to hit that goal will certainly make recruiting interesting in December and January, but won't necessarily mean a mass exodus from the commitment list.

What defensive tackles will be returning next year? I sell shoes

Jeray Chatham and Maurice Cummings will be the top two returners on the interior defensive line. Cummings moved down from defensive end in August and has seen more playing time as the year has progressed.

Freshman Jonathan Lewis played in the first three non-conference games, but not since. There could be an injury situation there that I don't know about that could allow him a medical redshirt. Redshirt freshman Noah Franklin hasn't played much, but is still transitioning over from offensive guard. True freshman Quencey Patrick is redshirting and benefitting from Rob Glass's strength and conditioning program.

T.J. Minor could be a candidate to shift down from defensive end. At this point, he wouldn't project to be among the top four defensive ends for next season and at 6-4 and 275 pounds has enough size to play on the interior - especially with another nine months under Glass.

On a pessimistic note, if the defense continues it's late game struggles the rest of the year, do you think Gundy would make any changes to his defensive staff? Barney Miller

Is there any truth to the article in the paper that intimated that Vance Bedford's defensive coordinator duties have been reduced? from email

I'll answer these two together, as they're somewhat related.

I don't think Mike Gundy is really thinking about staff changes at this point in the season. Yes, there have been some defensive breakdowns (and special teams as well), but the focus is on getting those things fixed now. If, as the first question hypothosizes, the defensive problems continue for the rest of the season, then some changes could happen.

As for the second question, all I can say is that I've heard nothing - officially or unofficially from the coaching staff - that says Bedford is anything other than OSU's defensive coordinator. As such, I take his explanation of his antics at the end of and following the Kansas game at face value. Bedford is a passionate guy and shows it a lot.

Like every head coach in college football, Gundy will review his staff's performance at the end of the season and make changes as needed. He'll look at the year as a whole, but the next five games are very key. If the Cowboy defense plays well down the stretch and helps OSU win some tough ballgames, that's worth a lot more than some of the early-season struggles. Don't forget that the Cowboys were extremely young on defense, particularly the back seven - a fact that will surely factor into Gundy's review of his defensive coaches' performance of their duties.

Why aren't we seeing more of Marcus Brown?

We heard last year that he was the best LB on the team but just couldn't play because of the x-fer rules.

Brown just hasn't played to expectations when given opportunities.

As far as the reports from last year, I don't necessarily recall him being called the "best," but do remember statements that he would be a starter if he were eligible. You have to recall how thin OSU was at linebacker last year - Jeremy Nethon and Alex Odiari were in redshirt while learning the position and Chris Collins and Patrick Lavine were still in high school. Collins being so ready to play from the get-go pushed Brown out of a starting position at strongside 'backer, and Lavine's later emergence has kept him there.

Still, Collins' season-ending knee injury has made the depth situation at linebacker pretty thin again. That means there is an opportunity for Brown to step up. Given Nebraska's strong running game on the road, tomorrow would be a good time for him to do it.

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