Wickline Works On Offensive Line Depth

STILLWATER - After the weekend and time to absorb the Friday scrimmage and the two and a half scrimmages last week, head coach Mike Gundy and his coaching staff were ready to get back at it Monday with the Oklahoma State Cowboys squad. It was hot on the floor of Boone Pickens Stadium and you could see it was a little taxing for the players.

As for the practice, it was regular in scope with plenty of drill work and running through situations with scout teams for both the offense and the defense. The practice finished with a lengthy team period that was balanced in its results.

Defense had its share of stops, but the offense also had success. All three quarterbacks, J.W. Walsh, Wes Lunt, and Clint Chelf, split reps.

It was a little harder to tell who the players were besides the quarterbacks as all other players traded jerseys. The players do that usually once during the spring and it's usually the last week of spring football. Most of the time the trade is between two players playing the same position, and because offense wears orange and defense wears white they have to trade with another player on their side of the ball.

During spring football one position group we have written very little on is the offensive line. With Joe Wickline as the offensive line coach it is often assumed by Cowboys fans and those of us that cover the team that the offensive line will be swell as long as Wickline is around.

It is fun to watch Wickline coach, and he is a favorite of visiting coaches as you will always see large groups around the offensive line on clinic days and during summer camps.

One thing we have not seen as much of during spring practice is the moving around that Wickline normally does with his players. There are a couple of reasons for that and one is the competition at center and creating a stable situation around Evan Epstein and Jake Jenkins the top two centers on the depth chart.

Jonathan Rush, the starter at left guard, has been out for practice but not going through contact work coming off the ACL injury and surgery after last season's win at Texas A&M.

Wickline hasn't just passed out compliments for the offensive line but you can tell by his demeanor at practice that he is generally pleased with the progress being made so far this spring.

At center the competition may not be completely over, but it would appear that Epstein is the leader and clearly takes more reps with the first offense. Jenkins is running second team.

The starting guards are three-year starter Lane Taylor at right guard with Brandon Webb taking most of the snaps at left guard with Rush sitting out team period and scrimmages. The starting tackles are Parker Graham on the right side and senior Michael Bowie on the left side.

The line is not without competition. Joining Jenkins on the second offensive line are Gerron Anthony and Eli Dickerson at the guards with young Travis Cross also getting some reps.

The backup tackles are Daniel Koenig and Devin Davis. Tackle competition is very intense with Koenig having played a lot of snaps as a blocking tight end and backup at tackle. Davis was almost used last season as a true freshman and Wickline thinks he could be better at some point in his career than recent Cowboy All-American and current Seattle Seahawks starter Russell Okung. Davis is a legit 6-7 and 300-plus pounds with a great arm reach. He really does have a chance to be very good.

Provided there is not a rash of injuries, the offensive line should be pretty good. That would allow Wickline to season the next crew of linemen -- junior college transfer Chris Grigsby and freshmen Paul Lewis, Greg Brantley and Michael Wilson -- while spending a season as redshirt candidates.

The Cowboys have another practice on Wednesday and then will look to Saturday's Spring Football Finale, which starts at 12:30 p.m., with the gates opening at noon and the ticket windows at 11 a.m.

Tickets are $5 tickets in advance at the OSU ticket office. There will be a meet and greet with coaches and players after the game and your ticket is good for admission to the OSU-Texas Tech baseball game later that afternoon.

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