Matthew Emmons – USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy says rebuilding the offensive line will take two or three years

Mike Gundy is the first to admit that the Cowboys did not run the ball as effectively as they needed to in 2015, but he says rebuilding the offensive line is the first step in making improvement.

If you think of Mike Gundy as the emperor in that old fable of The Emperor's New Clothes, you know that is the one where the emperor is hoodwinked into thinking he's wearing some really swanky new clothes and the truth is seen by a little kid that the majesty is wearing nothing at all but his skivvies.

When it comes to realizing that Oklahoma State didn't run the ball well enough, Gundy is under no illusions or false sense of success. The head coach knows it wasn't enough in 2015 and he felt it many of those games over on the sidelines. 
"We didn't dominate anybody and we were just good enough to win games," Gundy admitted. "We would make a play in the third or fourth quarter that would get us past our opponent. It was tough because we could not establish a run game."

Oklahoma State averaged 41.2 points and 489.5 yards a game of total offense. Those are plenty good enough but that old Cowboy trait of balance in the offense was out of sorts. The teeter totter was swinging way toward the pass with an average of just 132.2 yards a game on the ground. 

There is plenty of blame to go around as offensive line recruiting had struggled and missed in many cases in the past four seasons. The running backs had similar issues with Joseph Randle being the last real stalwart recruited at the position.

The starting offensive line this season of tackles Victor Salako and Zach Crabtree and guards Michael Wilson, Paul Lewis, and Jesse Robinson along with center Brad Lundblade played hard and had a large care factor but many times were overwhelmed by opposing defensive fronts. 

"A year ago when we were trying to recover from the situation from the 2013 season, I had mentioned to you, maybe not on the air, that it was going to take two or three seasons for us to recover on the offensive line," Gundy explained, again no excuses.

"We haven't been fortunate enough here at Oklahoma State to have 6-5, 320-pound guys that are ready physically and mentally to play on this level. When you get players in your system they need that one or two years experience of playing in this league. The good thing is we have everybody back on the offensive line. We're going to bring some guys in that we feel can help us some and we have some young players that we are developing that can help us some. At that, this will be just the second year that we are rehabilitating this position. You just don't have the luxury to make such a quick turnaround as you do at skill positions." 

You might think the improvement this season is a little orange lie, but it's not. As in 2014 the Cowboys averaged 3.5 yards per rushing attempt and this season that was up ever so slightly to 3.7 yards per carry.

"I think they will play better," Gundy added. "I think they will be improved in the bowl game. It just takes time and there are no short cuts when you are working with rebuilding an offensive line."

Rebuilding the running game as the backs still have a ways to go as well. A big effort in the Sugar Bowl against Ole Miss would go a long way toward inspiring some confidence for the 2016 season.

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