The Oklahoma State Cowboys might be one of the Big 12's strongest teams this coming fall, but that doesn't mean they aren't without their flaws.
True, the team is absolutely stacked at key places like quarterback and offensive line; however, it's not all roses in Stillwater, especially at some key defensive positions that lost seniors this offseason.
Here are the three positions Oklahoma State needs to work on the most before the 2013-14 season kicks off.
Anytime you lose a player as talented as Quinn Sharp, you're going to struggle while looking for his replacement.
Oklahoma State might have his heir apparent with incoming freshman Ben Grogan. Unfortunately, he won't be on campus until August and might not be ready by the season opener.
Michael Richenstein might be the short-term replacement at punter, while Bobby Stonebraker does the same for kicker. That said, Grogan looks like the next player in a long line of great Cowboys special teamers, and it's only a matter of time until he takes over.
Look for Grogan to take a few games to get acclimated to the college game and to take a starting role by midseason.
Much like at kicker and punter, the Cowboys lost a lot of talent from this position last season and have quite a few guys who could make an impact next season. We're just not sure which players will step up.
Oklahoma State graduated three of its top four ends from 2012-13, losing Ryan Robinson, Nigel Nicholas and Cooper Bassett.
OSU has quite a few young guys hoping to get playing time this fall; however, only Tyler Johnson has real experience playing for the Cowboys defense.
There are a few bright spots among the young guys, namely JUCO transfer Sam Wren, sophomore Trace Clark and junior Jimmy Bean.
Then again, all of those guys are relatively untested, so who knows what to expect from this position group in the fall.
Oklahoma State did get Justin Gilbert to return for his senior season, but it lost Broderick Brown, the guy who lined up across from him the past two years. Plus, it's not like Gilbert was a paragon of success in 2012.
Fortunately, reports from the Cowboys' "spring finale" have it that Gilbert is playing well, recording two picks in the end-of-spring scrimmage.
Unfortunately, after Gilbert, the OSU cornerbacks are young and mostly unproven.
Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin were able to get consistent time on the field last season; however they still need to show they can be every-down corners in the pass-happy Big 12.
Obviously, it's going to be a tough road for the young defensive backs, but with Oklahoma State's new, aggressive approach on defense, whoever starts opposite Gilbert should have ample opportunity to make a name for himself.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!