Orange Blitz Notebook: Sunday's Version

After Saturday's Orange Blitz practice in front of the fans at Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State head coach said there are two things that can cause him great concern and keep him up at night when it comes to a position group: inexperience and lack of depth. That means of all the Cowboys' position groups, the offensive line would be the most concerning this spring.

With both Devin Davis (ACL) and Brandon Garrett (broken leg from the Cotton Bowl) not participating in spring practice, the offensive line depth has been a recognized concern throughout the spring.

New offensive line coach Bob Connelly has been tasked with putting together an offensive line in which only Daniel Koenig has any extensive experience. The positive here is that Gundy really likes both the teaching style and the techniques and schemes that Connelly prefers to use in this offense. He has extensive experience in this style of offense.

"It seems to be going really good," Gundy said of the progress with Connelly coaching up the offensive line. "I like his demeanor. I like his ability to teach and coach. He's very experienced. It's very early.

"I think the offensive line has adjusted, because what you said is correct, the other guy (Joe Wickline) was here nine years, and they don't know anybody else. But I think he's done a nice job of mixing in with our staff, and I think the players respect his ability, and I like his work ethic."

"I remember when I first found out that Wick (Joe Wickline) was leaving, I called my brothers (Doug and David, who both played at Oklahoma State) and they had been through coaching changes and they said change can be good," said Cowboys senior Daniel Koenig said.

"This change is a good thing. He (Coach Connelly) is a good guy and he knows his stuff, and he wants a relationship with each one of us and push us to be the best we can be."

Here's how the offensive line looked Saturday afternoon when J.W. Walsh led the first team onto the field during the team period:
Left tackle, Daniel Koenig (6-6, 300, Sr.)
Experienced with 22 starts, 10 consecutive. He has a mean streak and has improved every step of his career.

Left guard, Chris Grisbhy (6-5, 325, Sr.)
Has six starts, all last season, and he is probably more of a natural fit at guard.

Center, Paul Lewis (6-3, 295, So.)
He was recruited as a center prospect by Joe DeForest and has been a back up that has seen some playing time.

Right guard, Zac Veatch (6-4, 290, So.)
He has played center (last spring and fall) and has also served in that offensive line upward mobility role of a blocking tight end. Koenig did that for a couple of seasons. Veatch got one start in that role last season and is also cross training at center and might move there when Davis and Garrett, or both, return in the fall.

Right tackle, Zachary Crabtree (6-7, 290, R-Fr.)
Was the most promising offensive line recruit in the last class and one of the most promising in the Gundy era. He was considered a possibility to play as a back-up last season. He is getting better each practice and has lots of potential, very athletic.

The second team offensive line, under the guidance of freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph, lined up this way:
Left tackle, Michael Wilson (6-6, 300, So.)
Another prospect who needs to get it done soon. He came in with lots of promise and has played some. He needs to turn it on.

Left guard, Colby Hegwood (6-5, 320, Jr.)
He transferred in just before last season after playing one season as a qualifier at junior college. According to Connelly, Hegwood has really made strides this spring.

Center, Grant Canis (6-2, 275, So.)
The reflection of what kind of shape the offensive line was in from a depth or number standpoint, Canis is a walk-on, albeit, a quality one from Midland, Texas. He will have to really keep pushing to keep the role.

Right guard, Jack Kurzu (6-4, 305, R-Fr.)
I have high hopes for Kurzu, a very likable young man and smart. He came to OSU injured last season and sat out the fall as a red-shirt. He got after it in the weight room and was ready for spring. The rust is coming off and he has a chance to make an impact. He might also be able to play some center.

Right tackle, Jesse Robinson (6-6, 310, R-Fr.)
Robinson and Crabtree standing next to each other could block out the sun. Robinson has to continue to work on his feet and his quickness on pass protection but he can be a smashing edge or near edge blocker in the run game.

So, how did the offensive line do in the Orange Blitz? The veteran member of the crew, Koenig, felt they did okay.

"Today was a good day," the senior from Cape Coral, Fla., said. "It was not one of our better days. We've had better. Our offense clicks at some points and sometimes we don't. We're working on it. We're getting those guys out there that need to play. We have guys that are stepping up who need to keep moving forward. If we do that, things will happen."

That is kind of the way Connelly assesses the entire spring (we will have more from him later). The offensive line is a work in progress and the good news is the building blocks or materials have revealed themselves. Connelly is in the midst of putting them together and the building of the offensive line seems to have a solid foundation.

For Blake Webb, It's a Wonderful Life
When a player misses the entire season with injuries but already has a taste of what it is like to go out and catch passes on the big stage that Oklahoma State football plays on, the coaches have great expectations of what that player can contribute.

Players who have come back this spring with a solid rebound then it is quite possible that you can sound like Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" or Jimmy Fallon every night on his version of The Tonight Show.

"It's just a great day to play football," Webb said yesterday after the Orange Blitz. "The quarterbacks were throwing the ball well and the receivers were running great routes. It was just a great day to be out here."

Yes, the birds were singing and the bees were buzzing. Actually, you can't blame Webb, as in front of the crowd, the first one he has played in front of in awhile, he caught a long pass from J.W. Walsh on the first series and a 48-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph. You don't understand unless you've experienced catching passes like that on the stage, how exhilarating it is.

"J.W. has been throwing the ball great. Any time he gets a chance to throw it deep, I love going deep," Webb continued. "We connected a couple times and it was a great day. It's amazing, it just feels great to play football again. It was a frustrating year and now that I'm 100 percent, I'm ready for the upcoming year."

You can start humming here and thinking good thoughts, Blake Webb certainly is and that is a good thing because he is a talented athlete that can contribute a lot to the offense.

Injuries, Injuries, Okay
Head coach Mike Gundy really doesn't like to talk about injuries. Now, you can even get in trouble with players and their families as whether it is part of the federal regulations known as HIPAA, it still make folks upset and nervous for their medical conditions to be made public.

In that vein, here is who missed the Orange Blitz and what we are comfortable with saying:
Daxx Garman, QB - Knee sprain that will be further examined and likely to miss the final week, but multiple sources report that the internet panic reports of serious injury were false.

Ra'Shaad Samples, WR - No more full participation this spring but he should be okay for summer work and ready for the fall.

Devon Thomas, RB - Slight injury and should be back for practice this week.

Desmond Roland, RB - Out all spring, primarily for precautionary measures after a arthroscopic shoulder procedure.

Devante Averette, LB - Could be back for the last week of spring. He has already shown he can help in major way next season and he needs the reps.

Devin Davis, OT - Very close to full go in summer and conditioning drills. He will be back for the fall.

Brandon Garrett, OG - Had the broken leg in the Cotton Bowl and is continuing to work on his rehab. The hope is he will be available in the fall.

Q&A with Middle Linebacker Ryan Simmons
How do you think the defense is developing?
Simmons: "We're all still learning. We're coming together as a defense. I'm seeing a lot of progress from every practice."

How is the togetherness needed coming along with the defense and the new and inexperienced players out there?
Simmons: "As far as going out and just running the plays, that's the same level as last year. Guys haven't really made a name for themselves yet. People are going to want to be out there, but as far as knowing each other, knowing the plays and being on the same bench, it's going to take some time."

The defensive line is experienced, so can we assume the pass rush is really stout?
Simmons: "We have a lot of guys on the defense and the defensive line who are pretty experienced. They are going to do some good things for us this year. There are a lot of guys with really good size who can move and put good pressure on the quarterback."


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