1. Play clean and reduce penalties, which were a problem in the first two games and can be a sign of lack of focus. Lack of focus is something the Cowboys really hope not to show today. A clean game would be proof that the team is advancing in game three and is as mature as advertised and not letting outside influences bother them. Add turnovers as well and if the Cowboys can be clean there that bodes really well for the season.
2. Offensive line continuity and developing depth at the position group is critical. The line, as it always seems to do with Joe Wickline, has played well and consistent despite adversity of injuries including the preseason knee injury of starting left tackle Devin Davis. Nagging injuries have been added to that and it is time to get some players like Michael Wilson, Colby Hegwood, Paul Lewis, Brandon Garrett and Zac Veatch additional time. The more these guys play and gain confidence and experience then the better for the team in Big 12 play. No kidding, this is a critical area.
3. The same applies for the secondary, especially at safety where last week in one series injuries sent starting seniors Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary to the sidelines. In the second half, two true freshmen, Jordan Sterns and Deric Robertson, were on the field together. They need plenty of snaps. The redshirts are off and that pair is going to contribute, has to contribute and not just on special teams.
4. Sharpen the special teams. The punt team had better not get a lot of work this evening and after last week they need some, at least the backups. However, the kickoff team should get loads of work and with Kip Smith's medium deep and good hang time kickoffs this is good work for the cover unit on kickoffs. I loved the opening tackle on the kickoff last week with freshman Jordan Sterns making a really stout play. Smith's kicks give the Cowboys the chance, a good chance to beat the touchback start of the 25-yard line.
5. Stretch the playmakers with running back Rennie Childs and Caleb Muncrief needing opportunities to get better in game situations. Cory Bennett is another running back who is an exceptional walkon and a guy that can potentially help. At wide receiver, I want to see C.J. Curry. I want to see more Marcell Ateman. It would help to get more passes to John Goodlett, David Glidden, Blake Webb, and yes, Austin Hays could play today. He was due to start before a preseason injury. More is better when it comes to playmakers.
Lamar will give great effort and the Cardianls are better than what I thought they were in the summer. But they represent an overmatched opponent that if Oklahoma State plays to its capabilities can accomplish all that is listed above and more.