It's here; the first game of the season. And it's time to see what the Cowboys' offensive line can do.
Last year's line took some heat from Cowboys fans after it performed below expectations. (Although I'm not sure what fans were really expecting. It was coach Bob Connelly's first season with the team after infamous O-Line coach Joe Wickline went to UT, and several young players had to step up to the plate [or the line]).
But several changes and additions have been made to the line, and expectations have certainly risen.
Line coach Greg Adkins joined the Cowboys program in March and has certainly changed things around. Adkins has thrown all former knowledge of the OSU O-Line out the window and started with a clean slate, moving players around and bringing his own flare and experience to the front five. UAB transfer Victor Salako is under tremendous pressure tomorrow night as he has received a lot of hype since he moved to Stillwater in January. The 330-pound lineman is starting against CMU in the left tackle position.
Redshirt junior Mike Wilson is returning to the starting lineup at the left guard position. Although he tends to fly under the radar, M. Wilson worked hard last summer. He didn't "keep" his starting spot; he "earned" it again. Brad Lundblade was a walk-on freshman last season but is starting at center against CMU as a sophomore with a scholarship. He began to shine during the game against TCU last season and has then got plenty of playing time and
experience. However, he suffered an ankle injury in the spring, so we'll see if it can stand the length and duration of a full football game.
Paul Lewis is a redshirt junior and will be starting as the right guard after spending the past three seasons as a center. Lewis brings experience and power to the O-Line; hopefully his leadership will also play a role tomorrow night and throughout the season. Redshirt sophomore Zach Crabtree will be starting at the right tackle position, and this comes as no surprise. "Crab" is a crowd favorite and has been getting quite a bit of attention from the media. He is easily recognized, standing 6-7, and uses his height and speed for blocking. "Crab" started as a redshirt freshman
and gained experience and leadership skills that will help the O-Line and the entire offense this season.
Of course, in case the worst should happen, seven more linemen are also on their way to Mount Pleasant. From left to right, the second-team lineup goes as follows: RS-Fr. Matt Mucha, RS-So. Jesse Robinson, Sr. Colby Hegwood, RS-Fr. Junior Galea'i and RS-So. Brandon Pertile. Robinson earned his first career start for the Bedlam game last season at right guard.He has since been moved to left guard to relieve M. Wilson. Hegwood is a JuCo transfer who has been with the team for three years. Although he has worked at the tackle position, Hegwood "tried out" for the center position in the spring, and Adkins liked the transition.
Pertile is a transfer from Mesa Community College in Arizona and moved to Stillwater in January. He has been battling multiple injuries but looks to be an asset for the O-Line depth. Two new standouts Johnny Wilson and Marcus Keyes are also on the travel team. They are the only true freshmen on the O-Line to make the cut. J. Wilson has been putting in time and taking reps at center, and Keyes has been working hard at left tackle [but can easily be moved to the right].
The two are eligible to redshirt and will keep that eligibility as long as they don't play a down this season, but Adkins refuses to travel with fewer than three centers. Twelve offensive linemen just landed in Michigan. Depending on the score tomorrow night, I'm sure more than just the starting five will see the field and get some playing time.