After a week of media related events and fall camp on this week’s horizon, one theme remains a constant in Stillwater...optimism.

After a week of media related events and fall camp on this week’s horizon, one theme remains a constant in Stillwater...optimism.
With a powerful returning offense and another year under defensive coordinator Tim Beckman’s direction, everyone in the Oklahoma State University football camp is chomping at the bit to get the ball rolling.
Last Thursday, the media was invited for a golf outing at Karsten Creek with head coach Mike Gundy and the rest of the Oklahoma State football coaching staff. Even with temperatures nearing the century mark and the Karsten Creek rough gobbling up wayward golf shots...optimism filled the late July air.
“Everything about our program is much better,” said head coach Mike Gundy. “Our players are very excited and very confident. We’ve had a great off season and are looking forward to the upcoming games.”
It would be hard not to be excited with the amount of offensive weapons that are returning for the Cowboys. Leading the charge will be quarterback Zac Robinson who last season threw for over 2800 yards and rushed for more than 800. Only three other players accomplished as much last year with one of them, Tim Tebow, winning the Heisman Trophy.
Lost is Dantrell Savage at running back, but several runners return including Kendall Hunter and Keith Tosten that saw significant carries last season. The Cowboys also brought in juco Beau Johnson who is 5-10, 210 pounds from Butler Community College. Also listed at running back is freshman Kye Staley from Guthrie High School.
When it’s time to throw then look for sophomore Dez Bryant to be involved and don’t forget about senior tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Bryant caught 43 balls last season for 622 yards and scored six times. Pettigrew had 35 catches and averaged 15.4 yards per catch. He also scored four times in 2007.
The point of attack also stirs up optimism.  “For the first time probably since I’ve been there, even back to Coach Miles, we’re close to being two deep on the offensive line, instead of having a third guard or a third tackle, we feel good about guys that may have to go in a back up role,” said Gundy.
The offense is set, but as has been the case for the past several seasons, the Pokes’ success will hinge on the defense led by second year coordinator Tim Beckman. The Cowboys are looking to some new faces to solidify the defense along with plenty of familiar names dot the defensive roster.
The defensive line struggled in ‘07 and will have to improve in the offensively explosive Big XII.
The Cowboys brought in some defensive linemen to give them some depth and needed relief as the season progresses.
Defensive end coach Vinson Reynolds is very optimistic about the D-line for 2008. “I feel that we will be greatly improved,” said Reynolds. “I look for Ugo Chinasa to have a break out year. He has really worked hard this summer and has plenty of potential.”
The coaches are also impressed with Maurice Gray who comes to Stillwater from Butler Community College. The 5-9, 160 pound cornerback is expected to contend for a starting corner position.
“I have every confidence in our defense,” said Gundy. “We’ve brought in some players that have really jelled for our team and we feel like we’re a faster defense.”
With the Cowboys strong finish over the second half of 2007 including the bowl win over Indiana and a strong recruiting class there is no wonder why optimism abounds in Stillwater. If the July optimism can be harnessed into on-field production, then Oklahoma State just may be a player in the Big XII south.