Zac Robinson beat out Bobby Reid last year and established himself as one of the better quarterbacks in the Big 12 by passing for 2,824 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushing for 847 yards. With Robinson at the controls, the Cowboys scored at least 28 points in six of their last seven games. The Cowboys averaged more than 486 yards per game last season. That isn't accomplished without solid run blocking and pass protection, and four starters return from that offensive line. Plus, Mitchell – a JC All-American who already is enrolled – could push for a starting job.
HELP IS NEEDED
Although four starters return in the secondary, the Cowboys obviously need a boost after ranking 113th in the nation in pass defense in 2007. Oklahoma State allowed 27 touchdown passes while managing just 12 interceptions, so those starting jobs may not be safe. The Cowboys weren't great against the run, either, and they have lost two starting linebackers – which may be a good thing. Help could be coming from redshirts.
KEEP AN EYE ON
LB Marcus Richardson: The Cowboys could have used the former three-star prospect's speed last season. But after sitting out a redshirt season, Richardson is a top candidate to step into the starting lineup.
LB Jared Glover: A high school defensive end, he also redshirted last season and is ready to step in to help bolster the run defense.
S Markelle Martin: Given the problems Oklahoma State had in pass defense, Martin – a four-star rated true freshman – has the speed and size (6 feet 1/180) to provide immediate help at safety.
HIS TIME IS NOW
Injured as a freshman and suspended after being arrested on marijuana possession charges last season, junior wide receiver Jeremy Broadway needs to produce quickly because the Cowboys signed three receivers in their 2008 recruiting class. Broadway, who has 15 career catches, faces a court hearing today for marijuana possession charges.
Oklahoma State ranked 102nd nationally in total defense last season, so obviously improving on that side of the line of scrimmage is crucial. The Cowboys brought in six junior college transfers on that side of the ball in hopes of finding a quick fix.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.