Football season is here, which means FOOTBALL Q&A's! Oklahoma State and Central Michigan face each other for the first time and there will be a lot of unfamiliarity for everyone involved. We asked Gerald Tracy, the managing editor of Cowboys Ride For Free, SB Nation's Oklahoma State blog, six questions about the upcoming match-up in Mt. Pleasant.
Hustle Belt: What are the expectations out of Cowboys fans for the upcoming season in terms of record and performance?
Cowboys Ride For Free: Let's just say the Cowboy fans are certainly drinking the orange Kool-Aid. Many fans are expecting a 9-3 or better season. It's definitely possible with all the returners and if Mason Rudolph continues his progression, along with injuries being a thing of the past. The schedule doesn't really hurt the Cowboys either, setting up to where they could potentially be 8-0 heading into the last few weeks of the season.
Who is the X-Factor on both sides of the ball for the Cowboys?
Many a person will tell you quarterback Mason Rudolph. I'm going to tell you three people, which is really one. The three running backs, who have sort of earned the nickname "The Triple C Threat" around the team. Rennie Childs, Chris Carson and Jeff Carr. Between the three there should be about 40 carries per game, which will certainly help a growing Rudolph. If they can rejuvenate what was a dead rushing game last season, this team may be one of the top offenses in the conference once again. Carr will be used in the same way that Tyreek Hill was last year, only in a more limited role. Emmanuel Ogbah is certainly my X-Factor on defense. He's a potential first round defensive end next year who exploded onto the spotlight after an excellent game against FSU in 2014. Also, this guy is H-U-G-E. If he can continue his play from last season, he should be able to help keep quarterbacks from spotting any weaknesses in the secondary.
What is the area of concern position-wise that you have for OK State?
My concern position wise comes in twos. Defensive tackle will have nearly no players with any real game experience and losing Vili Leveni to surgery this summer really hurt. The other is offensive line. Last season was absolutely horrid, but most of the line was injured and a few played out of position. This year they picked up UAB transfer Victor Salako and Zack Crabtree is back at full health, so the line should be fine. However, if it goes back to how bad it was last year, the Cowboys could be in for a long season.
As a OK State fan, what Chippewa player(s) are you most nervous to face?
I've heard a lot about Cooper Rush and after more than 3,000 passing yards and completed more than 63 percent of his passes last year while throwing for 27 touchdowns, there's probably a reason. A team who has something to play for is scary, a team that has something to play for with a good, experienced quarterback is even scarier.
What must the Chippewas do in order to steal away a victory from the Cowboys if it can be done?
If given the opportunity, don't punt twice. Totally kidding, but take advantage of any mistakes Rudolph and the young backs make. It's going to happen, probably. Also make sure to not let the Cowboys score early and often without answering back. One thing about OSU teams is that if you let them get a big lead, they won't give it up.
What is your prediction for how the game will go down?
Being at CMU on opening week after just recently getting coach Bonamego back, along with the Derrick Nash incident, I actually have this game being close for the first two, two and a half quarters. However, I don't think the Cowboys will let the game get too out of hand and will be able to pull away in the second half. I'm taking a 35-24 win, but CMU has an outstanding game.
Thanks for having me and good luck, football is back and it's fantastic!
Many thanks to Gerald and the guys over at CRFF for being quick and accommodating in their responses. You can follow Cowboys Ride For Free on Twitter @CowboysRFF and Gerald @GeraldTracyIII.