1. The quarterback chosen responds the right way, and so do the other two.
Head coach Mike Gundy is going to name later this week a starting quarterback for the Cowboys. Obviously, that quarterback will be geeked out of his mind and pumped up to be the offensive leader of the football team.
He needs to be humble about it and understand that this isn't like being Brandon Weeden a season ago. He may be the starter for the summer and going into fall camp in August, but a drop off in camp and one of the other quarterbacks showing improvement could easily lead to a change on the depth chart.
So, the quarterback named by Gundy needs to keep his head and continue to work hard while leading the team to productive summer workouts. The other two quarterbacks need to be supportive and continue to work hard for the opportunity in August to show again what they can do. The trio should still push each other and do it with a productive and team oriented attitude. It should be expected that it will happen just that way.
2. Rob Glass and his staff work their magic and Mother Nature cooperates.
Glass and his staff have set the tone with the summer work for the fall success. The players have totally bought in and put their faith in the program during the summer and offseason.
Glass also works on the mental attitude during the summer, and that has been very beneficial. Last summer the heat wave caused Glass to have to back off some, and change some schedules. You want a strong hot summer, but not 50 days in a row in triple digits. Mother Nature needs to make it hot but not too hot.
3. Chemistry continues and develops further.
Last season's Big 12 champions had such a great attitude. Egos were checked at the door to the complex and everybody really got along. I give Weeden a lot of credit for that.
Now I think that responsibility with be split. I look to players like Cooper Bassett, Davidell Collins, Nigel Nicholas, Daytawion Lowe, Brodrick Brown, Tracy Moore, Jonathan Rush, and Joe Randle, along with the starting quarterback, to make that chemistry reappear for this season.
4. Freshmen and one junior college transfer come in and get with it.
There won't be a huge need for the freshmen to play, but some will need to help out and it is always better when they come and assimilate rapidly. There is also one more junior college player arriving with Chris Grisbhy from Blinn (Texas) J.C., and he could arrive in shape and be ready to jump in and help on the offensive line.
5. Young wide receivers surface and emerge to help out.
The spring showed the Cowboys still have lots of talent at wide receiver, but the offense requires numbers with at least eight solid and as many as 10 contributing pass catchers.
It is likely that a few freshmen will need to play. The top candidates would be C.J. Curry from Georgia, Brandon Sheperd from Missouri, Blake Webb from The Woodlands in Texas, and JhaJuan Seales out of Port Arthur, Texas. They need to come ready and dive in to learn the offense. Coaches can't teach during the summer, but players can still go to the football office to watch video and check out DVDs and learn.
6. Epstein and Jenkins continue to improve.
It has ben said time and time again that Grant Garner spoiled the Cowboys with his play at center. Garner did but when he missed a game last season senior backup Casey LaBrue stepped in and the offense never missed a beat. The center position is critical, and the heir apparent Epstein and his backup Jenkins need to continue pushing each other to be the best they can be come next season.
7. Young defenders continue to work on the mental game.
Gundy said he was so happy with watching the defense this spring, and how they were athletic, fast and chased the ball. The defense is impressive and a big part of it is the physical skills.
But think how much better they can be if they are as mentally sharp in the defense and how to respond to what offenses throw out there. That is another part of the work that goes in the summer. Keep studying and preparing. Take time to have fun, but take time to get smarter on the field too.
8. Help emerges for depth at cornerback.
It hurt to lose Andrae May in the spring to a knee injury, and he may not be back for next season. The starting corners of Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert may be the best pair in the Big 12, and one of the best in college football. Depth is less certain with Larry Stephens and then two young redshirts. True freshmen Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin need to arrive and work hard as they might be needed.
9. Read the magazines and let the chip develop.
My guess is that with Weeden2Blackmon gone to the NFL the preseason magazines will be picking the Cowboys not to successfully defend their Big 12 championship. Read it, let it sink in, and then channel it. This team is good enough to get the job done. Let the summer time prognosticators provide fuel for those summer time Rob Glass workouts and Friday morning stadium runs.
10. Safety and smarts all summer long.
This program has really improved in its off-the-field demeanor. Teams with less knuckleheads and with all of its players working on the same goals and going in the same direction have the best chance to win championships. Players need not detract from the goal but contribute to winning it. That means having fun throughout the summer but being smart and staying safe. All motorcyclists wear helmets and make sure your girlfriends do too.