While much of the development in the offseason falls on Glass and his staff, there are also decisions to be made upstairs in the coach's offices regarding two staff additions, outlining personnel and where the talent will be plugged in and used, and in schemes, as the Cowboys staff discusses any changes or wrinkles that they would like to add to the arsenal for 2015. Already, based on the strong finish to 2014, there are optimistic projections for the upcoming season for Oklahoma State, none more sky high than ESPN number's cruncher Brad Edwards picking the Pokes to be in the 2015 College Football Playoff Bracket.
This is going to happen soon, maybe before I finish writing this story. Gundy has been working on this the past several days and the first step is a central offensive line coach. After that hire, Gundy can decide if he wants to use two coaches on the offensive line and split them up with one coaching tackles and tight ends and the other coaching centers and guards or if he wants to hire an offensive line coach and supplement with an all-around offensive school assistant that can assist offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
The word was early that Gundy's former teammate and rapidly rising offensive line coaching star Vance Vice of Memphis would be the favorite to be hired. Vice has an excellent reputation as an offensive line coach and a recruiter. The former OSU tight end has been critical in the turnaround at Memphis under head coach Justin Fuente.
Besides Vice Indiana's Greg Fry is a prominent name in the search. Fry has coached an offensive line for the Hoosiers that has blocked well in pass protection and helped running back Tevin Coleman to being a Heisman finalist and a potential first-round NFL Draft pick. Fry is a former Florida State offensive lineman who has also coached at Michigan and West Virginia.
North Carolina's Chris Kapilovic has been with current UNC head coach Larry Fedora going back seven years, and remember it was Fedora that brought Joe Wickline with him to Oklahoma State when Gundy hired his friend as his first offensive coordinator. Toledo's Tom Manning is a very young line coach who we've also heard some rumblings about. That line coach and the other assistant in whatever expertise and position group(s) he works with need to get in, get settled, and get to know their players before spring practice starts on March 9.
2. Develop Offensive Line Unity
The offensive line is more of a "melting pot" on this team than any other area. Think about it as you have players that were holdovers, even recent holdovers from former offensive line coach Joe Wickline in center Paul Lewis, guard Jesse Robinson, guard Michael Wilson, tackle Zach Crabtree, and several others.
Then there is the group that was with Bob Connelly for one year, including center Brad Lundblade, guard Junior Galea'i, and tackle Matt Mucha, along with a few others. Now you add the recent additions, recruited by Connelly, in junior college transfers Brandon Pertile and Matt Kellerman and major college transfer Victor Salako.
Those three groups will be blended by a new offensive line coach and maybe two, in which case add the tight ends including former offensive guard Zac Veatch to the party. Not to say that there is any issue here but at some point it will help if the entire cast of offensive linemen feel like they are under one umbrella of identity. Identity and cause are strong elements of really good offensive line play.
3. Develop Offensive Line Strength
This applies to everybody but especially to the three new members -- Brandon Pertile, Matt Kellerman, and Victor Salako -- as working an offseason under Rob Glass can be a culture shock and a body blow. It is tough physically and intense mentally and designed to be both. This is also where the blending of unity comes together as the experienced players, even the younger ones, can step out and help the newcomers with succeeding in the Glass offseason program.
4. Rudolph and Walsh as Leaders
Competition Day has eight teams made up of players on the entire squad and captained by a player. It was not surprising to hear that both quarterback Mason Rudolph and senior-to-be J.W. Walsh were team captains. They are both effective leaders and both have started their leadership portfolios at an early point in their college careers.
Both started earning captain's stripes as freshmen. Both need to continue and cultivate their leadership traits and potential and do it together. The two are friends and, yes, will compete at quarterback, but both have a solid concept of team first attitude cultivated and established by their parents. This should not be a problem even if the media tries to turn it into one.
5. Set the Tone for Running Back Competition
I loved what I saw and what I've heard from the running back position, primarily Rennie Childs. Childs is in great shape and tested outstanding to start the offseason program. Childs ran a 4.4 and change in the forty testing.
He is showing that regardless of the recruitment of junior college standout Chris Carson that he intends to take advantage of the opportunity he has to be the guy at running back. He is determined to answer the challenge. That is fantastic and it appears that new addition Todd Mays will push him this spring. The survivor will have to top Carson for the job in the fall.
6. Wide Receivers Push for Consistency
Oklahoma State has a very talented and, in most cases, experienced corps of receivers. David Glidden will have to overcome some offseason surgery as will some others on the team, but this is the healthiest OSU has been at receiver in some time.
We've seen Brandon Sheperd turn the corner and be a big playmaker. We have seen the progress of young freshman James Washington. There are so many others we have seen up at times, and on occasion down. A high level of performance on a consistent basis is the goal and it is definitely attainable.