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Could Past Seasons’ Games of Musical Chairs Help Oklahoma State’s 2023 Offensive Line?

OSU brings a healthy, experienced group up front in 2023.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — The Cowboys’ offensive line has been playing a dreaded game of musical chairs over the past three seasons.

Mike Gundy dubbed it musical chairs when one lineman goes down, so then another has to change positions to fill in for him. The game really gets going when there are two or three injuries up front. It’s chaotic.

Over the past few seasons Preston Wilson has started at center, guard and tackle. Joe Michalski has started at center and guard. Taylor Miterko has started at guard and tackle. Cole Birmingham has started at guard and tackle. Jason Brooks has started at both guard spots. Jake Springfield has started at both tackle spots.

Well, for the first time in a long time, the Cowboys’ O-line comes into a season relatively healthy (find some wood to knock on). So, can all that forced versatility help OSU’s offensive line in 2023?

“That’s one of the best things that an offensive lineman can have is versatility,” Miterko said. “Everybody always says you need to be able to play every position on the offensive line. We have guys that can do it and have done it before. That’s such a good thing to have — especially a guy like Preston. He’s played every position. He’s played center, guard, tackle, and he’s done well at all three positions.

“To have a couple guys who have done that, and you know they can do that, is such a plus because god forbid something happens, you know you have guys that can — just like we’ve done — move guys around, move guys up. Just to be able to do that and then have more depth with that, is such a plus.”

OSU gets Birmingham back after missing all of 2022 with a torn ACL. After redshirting in 2019, Birmingham was an opening-day starter as a redshirt freshman in 2020 at right guard … until he was injured almost right away. He returned in the bowl game that year.

Then Birmingham returned in 2021 to start every game of OSU’s Fiesta Bowl-winning season. He started Game 1 at right guard that season before moving to left tackle for the rest of the season. Birmingham said at OSU’s media day that he is working mostly at left tackle in fall camp after working both guard spots in the spring.

“As an offensive lineman, it’s one of the best things you can do,” Birmingham said. “If you can play every position, you’ll have somewhere to play.

“It’s a great group. We’ve never had this much depth, so that’s really cool to see. Everyone’s ready. This fall camp has been such a good start. I’m excited for this year.”

OSU’s 2023 O-line consists mostly of returning guys. Texas State transfer Dalton Cooper could impact things, but for the most part it’ll be guys that OSU fans are familiar with. With how things have gone along the offensive line in recent seasons, that could be a scary thought, but the there is another side to that thought.

Again, this is the most healthy the group has been in a long while (again, knock on some wood). The style of play is expected to be a little different, as well, with OSU introducing more gap scheme into the playbook. So, that could factor in, too.

Lastly, with as much moving around and experience this group has gotten over the past three or so years, this group knows what it’s getting into. There is no substitute for experience.

How much better will the Cowboys’ O-line be in 2023? That’s tough to say for sure, but it seems like the group has a good head start now compared to what they’ve had over previous seasons.

“We’ve all been such good friends since we got here four and a half years ago,” Miterko said. “To have everybody healthy for the first time in a while is awesome. Just to have guys that you’ve been with year after year to compete against and play next to and to just have out at practice, it’s a lot of fun. We’re all getting so much better.

“Seeing Cole back after his injury is awesome. Joe and Preston, they’ve been in and out with injuries. Just to have everyone back in a consolidated group is awesome because we haven’t had that in a while.”

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