It was a Monday on the regular routine around the Oklahoma State football office and facility as the players got back together on Monday afternoon for a team meeting and then training table for dinner. There is never a day off for discussion on the one area most observers, media, and fans focus on as the difference maker for the Cowboys upcoming 2016 season. That is the offensive line and production in the run game on offense.
Later this week stay tuned to Go Pokes as our former Cowboy player and special teams captain Deion Imade will help us out with a traditional preseason exercise that we are bringing back as a joint venture. Deion and I will give our predictions on what we think will be the average yards gained on offense per game in both the run and pass offense and then how many yards per game we think the Oklahoma State defense will allow on the ground and through the air.
This weekend we featured junior offensive tackle Zach Crabtree in a light-hearted topic of running for President. Crabtree and fellow Cowboy offensive lineman Brad Lundblade were in a dead-heat in mentions by their teammates featured in our "Seven Questions" series. We also spoke to Crabtree about the offensive line.
"We're getting better, we've improved," Crabtree said. "You've been out there," he said gesturing at me.
It's hard for those offensive linemen because the very nature of the position is so team oriented. You've hopefully seen the series "Band of Brothers." I really equate that mentality to being an offensive lineman. Jack Nicholson in that famed soliloquy in "A Few Good Men" asks Tom Cruise character if he had ever served in a forward area or a combat zone. He asked if he had ever asked a fellow soldier to put his life in his hands or if he'd been asked to put his life in their hands.
Blocking defensive linemen is not war and it's not life or death, but doing the job and protecting your team and your teammates depends on the trust and ability to work together of that offensive line.
I'm convinced that Crabtree gets that. I'm convinced his teammates get it. Crabtree uses the word love in talking about how the offensive line feels about their quarterback Mason Rudolph. That they are willing to put it on the line to protect him and block for the running backs and the receivers. They get it. They care. Physically, Rob Glass told me they are better, both as a group and individually.
Now, they have less than two weeks before some 60,000 fans in Boone Pickens Stadium and a television audience on Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Oklahoma are going to be watch and evaluating if they really are better and if this Oklahoma State team with an improved running game on offense has a real chance to win the Big 12 and make some noise in the higher realm of college football this season.