The Cowboys’ offensive line has been a beat-up bunch over the last couple of years, but that group is intent on turning things around in 2023.
Oklahoma State ranked ninth in the conference rushing for just 126 yards per game, the Cowboys’ lowest average since 2001. The Pokes’ line also allowed the most sacks it has in five seasons.
Mike Gundy knows it’s an issue (especially the subpar ground production), and he’s orchestrated some changes to try and address it that also include splitting up the hybrid Cowboy Back group back into tight ends and fullbacks, as well as a ground-up reexamining of the entire offensive line — in personnel and philosophy.
“We started to get away from physicality based on our concepts and schemes,” said Gundy this week. “Now we have to find what’s the best way to get good concepts and schemes, be able to exploit defenses with our skill, but also what we learned is if we lose our physicality, it’s not fun. We told them the truth and we also took the blame. I took the blame, but now I need the adjustments to take place.”
We know offensive line improvement is a point of emphasis for OSU coaches this spring, now let’s look at the talent they have to work with.
The Cowboys said goodbye to Hunter Woodard who started 29 games over his OSU career. Also gone is former junior college and four-star signee Tyrone Webber who played four games for the Cowboys in 2022. Webber reportedly left the program in December.
The Cowboys, fortunately, are experienced in the trenches returning all of their O-Line starts from last year, except for Woodard, and the majority of their snaps.
Who’s Entering the Mix
Help is on the way in the form of an experienced and decorated tackle with Dalton Cooper joining the fold. The former Texas State blindside blocker earned All-Sun Belt honors and was previously a Freshman All-American. In three seasons for the Bobcats, he allowed just seven sacks on 1,382 passing plays.
OSU also added UNLV transfer Noah McKinney. The 6-foot-5, 317-pound tackle redshirted as a freshman last year. Also incoming are true freshman JaKobe Sanders and Jack Endean. Gage Stanaland and Jamison Mejia will also join the Cowboys but didn’t enroll early.
Spring Depth Chart Prediction
There are still a lot of moving pieces, but here’s a look at how the starters and backups might shake out upfront.
LT — Dalton Cooper
LG — Jason Brooks
C — Preston Wilson
RG — Cole Birmingham
RT — Caleb Etienne
Backup Tackles: Jake Springfield, Calvin Harvey
Backup Guards: Taylor Miterko, Joe Michalski
Backup Center: Austin Kaweki
The Cowboys will be breaking in a new starting quarterback for the first time in four seasons and are looking to rebound from a historically bad rushing season. So every single spring snap matters as coaches try to figure out what they have and how they fit along the offensive line.