Different coaches have handled it different ways, but Connelly has grabbed that new opportunity like a life line on the Titanic. It may not be that dire but he talks about the advantage it has created for him and the O-line with plenty of enthusiasm.
"It gives us an opportunity to get in the classroom and especially me, being a new coach and having only worked with the players in the 15 practices in the spring, it has been instrumental," Connelly expressed.
"To get in there and continue to grow as a unit with my players, many of them being young and inexperienced, has been incredible. It's been an opportunity to pick up where we left off in the spring and continue with the terminology and go through video and answer any questions that they may have and go through spring cut-ups. It has been good for me especially being the new coach."
The leader of the offensive line in the player workouts has been senior left tackle Daniel Koenig. The third of three brothers who have all played offensive line at Oklahoma State, Koenig used to be the quiet fight starter in practice that played on the edge, sometimes even in practice with his own teammates.
Koenig has developed some real solid leadership traits. Connelly starts with Koenig in setting his early line-up, while he is also looking for depth and some back-up help.
"(Spring) gives you a baseline and we are going to be a work in progress," Connelly said in starting his run through the line-up entering fall camp. "I was impressed with the work ethic of the guys and they are eager to learn. As you eluded to earlier, Daniel Koenig has taken on that leadership responsibility. He is probably not what your typical leader is but he and I have worked quite a bit on the side about how to take on the leadership role. The room looks to him as a senior for answers. He is doing a good job.
"(Zach) Crabtree got a lot of work with Brandon (Garrett) being out with an injury," Connelly continued. "Crabtree got instrumentally better from practice one to practice 15. You know with (Zac) Veatch being a tight end-body type in the past and helping out in heavy sets and he took all the reps at right guard with the first unit.
"Paul Lewis worked quite nicely throughout spring at the center position. He's got a lot of responsibility on his plate. Players that play at that position in our scheme I expect to do all of the front and linebacker recognition and call all of our run and pass protections. He has developed and has a long way to go but he is working tirelessly to be successful at that.
"(Chris) Grisbhy had a very good spring and we put him at the left guard position. He moved around quite a bit last year, both guards and both tackles. He does have the athletic ability to play tackle but the height and the weight issues make him better suited to be an inside player. Putting him next to Daniel Koenig, who is at the left tackle position, has helped because of the knowledge that Daniel brings."
Connelly confirmed something we have reported throughout the summer and that is that Brandon Garrett should be ready next week when camp begins to be fully participating in practice. If not then, soon after for Garrett, who had the broken leg in the Cotton Bowl game. As for Devin Davis, Connelly said he would not be ready.
"He is a little bit behind," Connelly said. "My concern is not with the (knee) ligaments, obviously they had to repair all of those, but my concern is with the meniscus. When you are dealing with a big guy like Devin at 330 pounds that is going to be a pain tolerance thing and he hasn't really been able to test that at this point."
Connelly is optimistic and likes some of the understudies such as third-year sophomore Michael Wilson, and redshirt freshmen Jesse Robinson and Jack Kurzu. He loves the incoming freshmen in Junior Galea'i and the potential of Matt Mucha.
There is loads of developing to do and he is ready to roll up his sleeves and get back to it. Handling the physicality of the position and having mental toughness are two ingredients he is looking to see out of his players heading into the season.