Can The Offensive Line Keep It Up?

The Big 12 Conference and the select group of media that vote on each week's player honors selected Oklahoma State running back Desmond Roland as the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for his 219 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the Cowboys 58-27 win over Iowa State last Saturday. We identified Roland here on Go Pokes in August as the most improved player on the team.

We thought he delivered enough strong runs earlier in the season that we wondered why he wasn't getting more carries.

Now that he's been unleashed we're hoping, along with many other Cowboys football fans, that he can do it some more.

"I was a little surprised, not so much with how he ran or how physically he played; but if you asked me if he was going to run 200 yards, I don't think I would have taken that bet," running backs coach Jemal Singleton said.

"He did some great things. He did some things that, seeing his body of work this year, he showed some glimpses of doing. He did it for a lot of plays and a lot of carries, and he was just as strong in the fourth as he was in the first," Singleton added.

The sign of a good back is the trait of being just as strong in the fourth quarter as in the first, and on the 22nd carry as the second.

"He's worked hard and he got more carries," head coach Mike Gundy explained to the Monday media gathering. "The majority of it falls on our offensive line and their ability to block so that the running backs don't have to make a cut in the backfield.

"This was the first game that we were able to play that we had the same starting five, for the most part, as the game before. There was some consistency in practice over a two-week period. I would like to think that has an effect and hopefully they will continue to improve as we move forward."

Roland credits the offensive line for the running game's success on Saturday and any success ahead. Desmond is not only a talented athlete but he is smart and he knows where a back's bread gets buttered.

"I was just running behind my blockers," Roland said with humility and sincerity. "Our receivers were doing well blocking downfield, and like I said, our o-line was making great holes and they made it easy for me. I was just running.

"They make changes on the o-line every other day," Roland continued. "This combination worked for the last game, so I guess we'll move forward with it for the next combination. If they continue to block like this, we might as well keep it the same."

Starting offensive right guard and offensive line veteran Parker Graham concurs. Junior college transfer Brandon Garrett from Trinity Valley Community College improved in his second full game at right tackle. Garrett even got the offensive line badge of courage, an aggression penalty when he was called for a trip in the second half.

"It shows aggression, actually, I had cut the guy (Iowa State defender) before him and then he just felt like he needed to cut him," Graham explained. "He cut him too, so the guy got cut twice on the same play. He's a good kid and he finally shook off all that nervousness in the first game and really performed.

"It got him (Garrett) the exposure to Big 12 football) and we have some important games coming up and some on the road like at Texas and this one coming up at Texas Tech. Those are going to be tough places to play and I think we're ready to be consistent," added Graham.

Consistently good? Something to remember for the future is that Brandon Garrett got the nod at right tackle because the coaches really liked his pass set (pass protection technique) against TCU. Now that the run blocking has been honed some, look out. Desmond Roland is looking for those holes to open.

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