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October 12, 2012

Opponents view: KU vs. OSU

To get a closer look at the Saturday's game we caught up with Jeff Johnson, the publisher of O-State Illustrated.

Gundy may not announce the starting quarterback until Saturday. What are some of the differences between Lunt and Walsh?

The way to put that KU fans may identify with due to previous matchups is Wes Lunt most closely resembles Brandon Weeden, while Walsh is similar to Zac Robinson. Lunt is the tall, relatively immobile guy who can make every throw on the field. On the other hand, Walsh has an adequate arm, is very mobile and excels running the zone read. Robinson never ran the OSU offense of 2010-12, so that is certainly a difference between the former OSU quarterback and the current backup/possible-starter Walsh.

If Lunt plays Saturday, Kansas will have to defend the pass all over the field, but give absolutely no thought to the QB run-game. With Walsh, the Jayhawks can focus their pass-defense attention primarily between the numbers on the field and give far less attention to the deep ball. Walsh is dangerous when he takes off, as evidenced by his 50-yard run against Texas in the fourth quarter. Walsh carried eight times for 57 yards in that game, while completing 18-of-27 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns (one interception).

Oklahoma State has the nation's top offense. How has Gundy been able to keep the offense going so well over the years?

A combination of recruiting very well on that side of the ball, and consistently having great coaching. The hire of Dana Holgorsen after the 2009 season is what transformed the OSU offense from very good to one of the nation's best. Weeden and Justin Blackmon had something to do with that as well, though they've actually kept pace with previous years' numbers with either a true or redshirt freshman running the show.

Perhaps the difference in the "OSU spread" and the "Air Raid" as it has traditionally been is Gundy's dedication to keeping a strong run game. Holgorsen conformed his offense to that thought and current coordinator Todd Monken has advanced it further.

Offensive line coach Joe Wickline is one of two offensive coaches (inside receivers coach Doug Meacham being the other) to have been on-staff for every OSU offense the last eight years. Both of those guys are underrated, and Wickline has managed to put together very, very good o-lines for seven seasons in a row.

Talk about the Oklahoma State defense. Who are the top play-makers and what style of defense do they run

OSU runs a base 4-3 under Bill Young. In the last couple of years, he has gone to a three-man front on third- and fourth-and-longs especially strongly the last two seasons. That can be a 3-4 or a 3-3-5 alignment. It worked well last season, as it produces turnovers and prevented touchdowns, especially in the red-zone. It hasn't worked as well so far in 2012, and there could be a move partially away from the philosophy starting this weekend.

The Cowboys have their best pair of interior defensive linemen in the Gundy Era in Calvin Barnett and James Castleman. The same was thought to be true of the cornerback pairing of Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert, but their results through four games has been mixed. 2011 strong safety Markelle Martin moved on to the NFL. That has been a weak spot, and defensive end play hasn't lived up to expectations yet.

They are calling for rainy weather and heavy winds. Can Oklahoma State be effective by mainly running the ball?

I think absolutely so. Whichever quarterback plays, the Cowboys have had a very effective running game in every game this season. Against Texas - widely thought in pre-season to be the Big 12's best run defense - OSU ran for 275 yards on 40 attempts. Kansas-native Joseph Randle accounted for 199 of those by himself. Walsh certainly strengthens the Cowboy run game, if he is the starter.

If there are any weaknesses on the team what are they?

The defense has not been good on third or fourth downs, and not particularly strong against the pass. Offensively, the 2012 squad has bogged down in the redone more often than the last two seasons and the Cowboys settle for more field goals than normal.

How do you see the game playing out and what is your prediction?

Oklahoma State should go in and roll the Jayhawks. That was the popular theory when they went to Arizona early this season and the Wildcats hung around through OSU taking a 14-0 lead early and wound up beating OSU handily. KU needs to put up as much of a fight as they did early in the KSU game and see what happens from there. Either way, I see a three-touchdown win for OSU.

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