Position-by-Position Analysis: Offensive Line

Returning starters Victor Salako, Zach Crabtree, Michael Wilson and others must continue to improve if the Oklahoma State offensive line is going to be better this fall.

This is a feature we did post spring back in the days of Go Pokes Magazine. We would list every single player on the roster, including walk-ons, and give a short synopsis of where they fit in on the team and what the possibilities are for them in making significant contributions in the upcoming season.

We will do these by position groups and again. Remember, it is just our observations and opinions, based on what we have seen and what we have heard from everybody from head coach Mike Gundy through the coordinators, position coaches, and graduate assistants and support personnel.

We started with the specialists, Cowboy backs, running backs, wide receivers, quarterbacks, and now we wrap up the offensive side with the most discussed, most analyzed, and most critical position group going into next season: the offensive line. Last season Oklahoma State ran the football for an average of 3.6 yards a carry, but if you broke it down to more traditional run game as in hand-offs to a running back or pitches to a back going anywhere from outside in the 8-or-9 holes to inside or off tackle 0-thru-7 then the average was actually closer to 2.8 yards. 

Opponents ran for 4.3 yards a carry, and that is respectable but it is over half-a-yard more and opponents because of better success chose to run the ball 571 times to Oklahoma State's 460 rushing attempts. When you think of rushing yards as being more controlling and they are, that is a dangerous comparison and one that is unusual as the Cowboys were able to go 10-3 with on the season. It is not just the offensive line that this falls on as running backs and other offensive players have to take ownership as well. 

Opponents sacked Oklahoma State quarterbacks 32 times or an average of just under 2.5 sacks per game. Oklahoma State sacked opposing quarterbacks 40 times. I do believe that winning sack margin carries weight, but I also think giving up 2.5 sacks a game is too much and must improve as well.

It is no secret that the Oklahoma State offensive line was left thin over the last several seasons which saw more busts in recruiting at the end of former offensive line coach Joe Wickline's tenure and the brief period of one season where Bob Connelly was offensive line coach. We have yet to see the impact in recruiting with Greg Adkins as offensive line coach although the healthy class of seven offensive linemen coming in (or having already arrived in the case of Larry Williams) looks good on paper and on video.

Adkins believes returning all the starters off the 2015 offensive line and some younger players that now look ready to compete and push those starters bodes well for this season. But fans don't want to hear it, they want to see it, but the offensive line was improved in spring and looked much better and had better results in practices and scrimmages. However, the lack of production in the spring game left fans still questioning what will happen this upcoming season. Can the offensive line pick up its performance to allow this Oklahoma State team to be as good as it is capable of being?

Talk or words on paper don't matter, it has to come out in performance this fall.

73 Victor Salako, LT, 6-6, 335, RS-Sr., Huntsville (Grissom), Ala/UAB
Salako had surgery right after the season to correct a leg injury that compromised his performance the last half of the season. He truly looks the part and his strength has increased under Rob Glass and company. He is much more athletic than most want to give him credit for as his feet move well. Spring was an improvement for him and Adkins felt he was one of the better offensive linemen over the 15 practices of the spring. He is a little better pass blocker than run blocker, and that run game really needs to get better for him. Not saying that he has his position regardless as competition helps, but my prediction is he holds down the left tackle position.

60 Zachary Crabtree, RT, 6-7, 310, RS-Jr., Mansfield, Texas
Crabtree is one of the strongest players on the offensive line and is a solid fixture. He had a good spring according to all sources and is also recognized as a leader with the offensive line and with the team overall. His long arms and big frame help a lot with pass protection and he may be the best run blocker overall of the offensive line. I don't see anything changing with him, and I see Crabtree, who is determined, continuing to improve.

74 Michael Wilson, LG, 6-6, 305, RS-Sr., Aledo, Texas
Wilson had a solid spring and I believe he will be starting somewhere on the offensive line this fall. However, it might not be at right guard as newcomer Larry Williams plays behind him and could be the guy that moves into that slot and frees up Wilson to move to another position. Adkins is not as free with moving guys up and down and all around the offensive line like Wickline did, but you can see where he is looking to slide people some. Wilson has a big frame and is pretty athletic, meaning he could play anywhere inside on the line. His experience helps too as he goes into his senior season with two years of starting behind him. He took some heat for busts inside last season and it was not always his fault.

64 Jesse Robinson, RG, 6-5, 315, RS-Jr., Beford (L.D. Bell), Texas
Robinson is a big physical mauler of an offensive lineman but the question with him at times is focus and attention to detail. When he is playing his best, he is good. I thought his spring was a mixture at times. He has a good attitude and you know wants to be really good. He could get pushed, so we will see how determined he is to solidify that position this August.

71 Brad Lundblade, OC, 6-3, 300, Jr., Argyle (Liberty Christian), Texas
A rarity in that he started a game and played in a bunch as a true freshman, Lundblade is one of my favorite players because of his attitude. He loves playing, plays his butt off, knows what he is supposed to do and makes good calls as a center. The issue with Lundblade is purely physical. Last season he was overmatched physically by some of the veteran and huge inside technique defensive tackles in the Big 12 like Andrew Billings of Baylor, Kyle Rose of West Virginia, Hassan Ridgeway of Texas, and Travis Britz of Kansas State. Lundblade has got to be stronger and hold up better inside if the run game is going to improve and letting any significant penetration inside during pass rush is also a major issue. Those will have to be addressed and I look for Adkins to look at some alternatives during fall camp.

Marcus Keyes, LT, 6-3, 310, RS-Fr., Port Allen, La.
Keyes may have been the most improved offensive lineman on the team in the spring as each week he was getting more and more mention from head coach Mike Gundy. Admittedly, Keyes is still young, but he is strong, physical, and athletic and it showed throughout spring. He had days where he dominated in practice and that is rare for a player as young as he is. He also saw some time with the first team as he and Williams were the leaders in that regard. I see him as a main component that plays a lot but might be a year away from a starting position.

78 Matthew Mucha, 6-5, 300, RS-So., Seabrook (Clear Lake), Texas
It is time for Mucha to make a push and I really see where he could move inside if his play warranted finding a better spot for him to get more playing time. He is smart and athletic with strength and an ability to be really physical. He's had trouble filling out his frame since he arrived but he held his weight it seemed better this spring than we have seen in the past. 

56 Larry Williams, LG, 6-4, 318, RS-Jr., Wilmington (Laney), N.C./East Carolina/Hutchinson C.C., Kan.
Williams could be the key to making any shift or position changes to the offensive line as he could slide in at left guard or even right guard and allow for some movement. He was impressive early on in off-season conditioning and the first week or so of spring drills, but he did seem to hit a wall and then successfully climbed over it. He saw time with the first team and proved he could physically match up with the Cowboys deep and talented defensive tackles. I liked him as both a run blocker and pass protector. He still needs to work hard and improve over the summer but he could be a real key for the fall, maybe the key to sliding around players to strengthen the offensive line.  

66 Lemaefe Galea'i, RG, 6-4, 325, RS-So., Euless (Trinity), Texas
The time is now for Galea'i, and we have heard that from several people. He got heavy last season, obviously well past the 325 pounds he was listed at but it seemed that Rob Glass and company and the nutrition advice from Charles Hewitt may have made a difference and in spring he slimmed down, even progressively through the spring. He was much better at the end of the 15 practices than he was in the beginning. In fact, he blocked well in the spring game. An X-factor for the fall as whether he can find a place, right guard would almost have to be it, to help strengthen the first team offensive line. He will need to stay in shape and even improve himself in that area which the summers in Stillwater can really help with.

72 Johnny Wilson, OC, 6-3, 305, RS-Fr., Midland (Midland Christian), Texas
Another young pup that made strides in the spring. He has been able to put weight on that looks good on his frame and he plays with an attitude. He is not ready yet, but made loads of improvement in the spring and if he keeps that up then it may not be long. I see a real clear opportunity for him to jump up and increase competition at center and help make everybody better including himself. He is determined and wants to play a big role on the team and on the offensive line. 

51 Brandon Pertile, OT, 6-4, 315, RS-Jr., Clearwater (Countryside), Fla./Georgia State/Mesa C.C., Ariz.
Injuries have compromised his chances and he would need to make a major turnaround in order to be competing for a starting position on the offensive line. He took mostly third team reps throughout the spring. 

68 Deionte Noel, OG, 6-2, 330, RS-So., Cibolo (Steele), Texas
Noel is behind the top four at offensive guard and played mostly third team throughout the spring. It would be a major development if he moved into contention for a major role. 

77 Jaxon Salinas, OG/OT, 6-3, 305, RS-Jr., Irving, Texas
Salinas is another player who helps with overall depth, but honestly you don't see him playing a major role on the offensive line. The positive thing for Pertile, Noel or Salinas is that if they did work their butts off and did show at the start of fall camp that they had improved and were competing at a higher level then there is a chance to move up and possibly claim a major playing role this season. 


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