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Oklahoma State’s Offensive Line Turnaround Is Staggering

OSU gave up 2.7 sacks a game in nonconference play and has given up just two sacks total in Big 12 play.



[Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics]

When things have gone poorly over the past year or so, the Cowboys’ offensive line has been under a microscope. Now that things are going well, the line isn’t getting talked about as much.

That’s just sort of how it goes for perhaps the most selfless position group in all of team sports. But make no mistake about it, the Cowboys’ offensive line was dang good in Oklahoma State’s 48-34 victory against West Virginia on Saturday. The unit allowed the Pokes to rush for 8.5 yards a carry, and quarterback Alan Bowman wasn’t sacked and was hurried only twice.

Superstar tailback Ollie Gordon talks up his hog mollies every chance he gets, like immediately after his 282-yard, four-touchdown performance in Morgantown.

For further reference on why Gordon is so enamored with his offensive line, let’s dive into some stats.

The Cowboys averaged 3.9 yards a carry in the nonconference; they are averaging 6.0 yards a carry in Big 12 play.

The Pokes ran for 118.7 yards a game in the nonconference; they are running for 201 yards a game in Big 12 play.

OSU quarterbacks were sacked 2.7 times a game in the three nonconference games; in four Big 12 games, Alan Bowman has been sacked 0.5 times a game.

It’s a testament to Mike Gundy, Kasey Dunn and Charlie Dickey that they have figured out whatever they figured out and did so on the fly in the midst of a season. It’s also a testament to Joe Michalski, Preston Wilson, Dalton Cooper, Jake Springfield, Jason Brooks, Cole Birmingham and Taylor Miterko that as bleak as things must’ve seen at times, they just kept working, kept getting better and are now the spearhead of an offense that ran for nearly 300 yards on the road Saturday.

“It’s super encouraging,” Michalski said Saturday. “Shoutout to all my guys. We all show up to work every day. We work super hard during practice. Big shout out to Ollie, too. He runs the ball hard — puts his body on the line every play, plays unselfish. Just shoutout to everyone. I really love how we’re showing up every day just wanting to get a little bit better. That’s all we can keep doing.”

Among OSU’s five intended starters at this point in the year — Cooper (LT), Brooks (LG), Michalski (C), Wilson (RG) and Springfield (RT) — all but Michalski have improved their Pro Football Focus averages from nonconference to Big 12 play. Michalski’s dipped just two points — something that certainly can be forgiven considering he was the highest-graded center in the country last weekend.

The tackles in particular have really seen an untick in the grade department. Cooper averaged a 62.9 in the nonconference and has averaged a 71.3 in Big 12 play. Battling through injury in the early part of the year, Springfield averaged a 60.8 in the noncon and has averaged a 70.5 in Big 12 play. As Springfield combatted an injury, Cooper played at right tackle in the early part of the season. Those two playing opposite each other appears to be part of the magic formula OSU has concocted.

It has felt as if OSU has been playing from behind on the offensive line since the Cowboys suffered a pair of first-quarter injuries in the 2020 season opener — more than 1,000 days ago. Although it might be too early to claim victory over all that has plagued the position group since then, it feels like OSU’s O-line finally has its head above water again.

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