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OSU’s Offensive Line Is Bigger, Stronger and Custom-Tailored for a Long Season

Rebuilding an offensive line doesn’t happen overnight but Mike Gundy is happy with Josh Henson’s progress.



Oklahoma State’s offensive line woes have been as well-documented as they have been long-running. The abridged version goes something like this.

Joe Wickline left the program (with the cupboard bare) following the 2013 and it took OSU entirely too long to recover from that. Four offensive line coaches in five years caused a bad recruiting situation to get worse, and OSU’s offense and team suffered for it.

Now it appears that prodigal Cowboy son Josh Henson has the line moving back in the right direction, including his addition of five incoming freshmen to play in the trenches. OSU has to break in a new QB and make way for a slew of talented tailbacks, so Mike Gundy is happy to finally make some headway up front.

After predicting that his 2018 offensive line would be better than his 2017 unit at Big 12 Media Days, Gundy dove deeper into the subject during Saturday’s press conference.

“I also think we’ll be better on the offensive line than we have been in a number of years just from experience and guys understanding our schemes and concepts. That should help in bringing those guys along,” Gundy said.

“Our numbers are up in offensive linemen. I think we have something like 24 total in camp. For a while there, we were around 15 or 16 and it was kind of scary. So I’m really encouraged about where we’re at with our offensive line.”

Of those 24 linemen on OSU’s fall camp roster, 10 of them have actual in-game experience with the Cowboys and four have starting experience. And that’s not including junior college transfers Arlington Hambright and Larry Joubert, both who have at least a year of experience in the program.

During OSU’s media golf event last week, Henson stated that he believed he had eight linemen who could help them “in some form, shape or fashion.” He also pointed a silver lining to the gloomy injury cloud cast over his group. Guys like Johnny Wilson and Teven Jenkins were pushed into starter’s reps while others saw the field for the first time in their careers. Both Wilson and Jenkins are poised to start early for the Pokes.

Freshmen still a ways off

Despite adding overall size and talent to the offensive line’s group, don’t expect any of the five incoming linemen to see the field, especially early in the season.

When discussing the new redshirt rule that would allow a player to participate in up to four games before losing his redshirt, Gundy had this to say about the big guys up front.

“Offensive lineman – the chance of those guys playing is probably less than a skill position, from the fact that a lot of your skill position guys will help you on special teams and a lot of offensive lineman are usually much further behind,” Gundy said.

His offensive line coach concurs, likening playing as a true freshman to a high school freshman lining up against high school seniors. “It’s just strength.”

“In 18 years of coaching full-time, I’ve seen three guys play as freshmen on the offensive line,” Henson said. “…One of those guys probably played because he was good enough [the others due to injury]. You’re talking 18 years and three guys… It just doesn’t happen very often.”

When specifically asked how he would try to utilize the new rule to help his group in the future, Henson reinforced the need to win now.

“My gut feeling is that early in the season, I don’t know that those guys will be ready yet anyway,” said Henson. “And so my gut feeling is that even if you get into a game where you have the luxury of putting your second-team O-Line in for whatever reason, you want to go ahead and play your second-team O-Line because if there is an injury in Game 5 or 6, those are the guys that are gonna play. I think for linemen, usually by Game 8 or 9, those guys have repped a little bit through the season.

“…I would think that maybe later in the season, if you’ve got a really talented freshman that didn’t quite know what was going on yet or didn’t quite know how to put himself in position to be successful, maybe Games 8, 9, 10, [if you] got an injury or two, maybe that guy would be ready to come in and play where he might not have been in Game 2,3,4.”

Whether or not one of Henson’s 2018 class is that far along is yet to be seen but Mike Gundy knows the gem he has in Henson from a developmental standpoint as well as being a touted recruiter.

“Josh has done a good job,” Gundy said. “We have some quality bodies to work with. By the time that Rob Glass works on them for 24 months, he’s going to trim them down a little bit and get them stronger and work on foot speed. That process is enjoyable to watch instead of reaching for guys and hoping they can make it through a season, which we did for about four years.”




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