Offensive Line Has Time To Get Better

I was going to write about Kevin Peterson for my player story on Tuesday night. You know the Oklahoma State cover corner that got little love in the preseason from media that is supposed to know the Big 12 like the back of their hand. Some of those guys really should talk to assistant coaches. Those guys love to talk because they don't get worn out all the time like head coaches.

When they talk they will tell you what they truly think unless you are asking about their team. That's when most of them will play it close to the vest.

It was while talking to offensive coordinators last season like then Texas Tech and now TCU offensive assistant Sonny Cumbie, who told me before the game between the Cowboys and Red Raiders in Lubbock that there was good reason that Justin Gilbert was picking off so many passes on his way to the first round of the NFL Draft. It was because teams did not want to throw at Kevin Peterson.

This season Peterson is showing why again as he is really tough on coverage. He got called for a pass interference penalty last week in the 45-35 win over Texas Tech and I swear I couldn't see it. It might be that he's too good and the official just think he is grabbing receivers.

But instead of going full fledged on Peterson, who is deserving, I am going with another offensive line story. By the way, ESPN.com finally figured it out and wrote a feature on Peterson. I was so far ahead of those guys on knowing how good Peterson was, is, and will be that I didn't want it to appear I was second.

The OSU offensive linemen need to bring their game to the forefront. I'm sure that right guard Zac Veatch found Monday's press gathering to get old fast. You can only hear so many times the questions like, 'what are you going to do to improve? How do you feel you are playing? What do you think of the head coach leaning on you guys and the run offense?'

Veatch told me that he feels good about his play and he feels good about the direction the offensive line is going. He also repeated those answers and said some things without really saying much in a lot of his answers.

One aspect of offensive line play he nailed that a lot of fans don't get it is when one offensive lineman is getting thrashed that doesn't mean the entire offensive line is struggling. That is a common misconception about the offensive line where all five players are dependent on each other for success.

"On the defensive line, one guy has to win in order for them to all have success," said Veatch, adding that this is a philosophy that is shared with them often by offensive line coach Bob Connelly. "But for offensive line, if one guy gets beat, then we all lose. We all have to be in unison and we’re all really together in understanding that. It is a brotherhood and it has to be.”

My feeling is that Veatch and offensive tackle Zach Crabtree, his partner on the right side, center Paul Lewis, left guard Chris Grisbhy, and the veteran and most experienced of the group left tackle Daniel Koenig all need to get better and polish their game. They need to make sure they minimize those plays where they let defenders loose.

There is the Saturday game with Iowa State and the Cyclones are ninth in the Big 12 in rushing defense, allowing 226.8 yards per game. The next week they go to Kansas to face the Jayhawks, who are sixth in the conference in stopping the run at 166.8 yards per game. Following that the schedule turns to TCU, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma. Those teams are one through four in rushing defense and Texas is seventh and West Virginia is eighth.

That gives the Cowboys two weeks to work on an instrumental part of the offense that will be needed as defenses will play the Cowboys offense more honest. If anything, opponents may cheat the pass and play a lot of two deep safety coverage. It will be run or get beat in those situations.

Last year, Iowa State was just the elixir that made the Oklahoma State running attack better as the Cowboys ran for 342 yards. Desmond Roland ran for 219 yards and four touchdowns in the 58-27 win. It'd be nice for the run game to get healthy against Iowa State again.

Veatch knows they don't have any 360- or 370-pound defensive tackles. "The middle two guys up front might be a little wider, but they’re not drastically different," Veatch said. "Every game is a battle in conference play.”

The battle becomes easier when you can run and throw the ball equally well. God bless Saturday, as maybe that will be the day the run breaks wide open.

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