OSU offensive line garners praises
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Saturday, December 29, 2012
12/29/12 at 6:27 AM
DALLAS - Compliments don't flow from Joe Wickline's lips very often.
So when Oklahoma State's offensive line coach has high praise for his players, it's undoubtably merited.
"I'm pleasantly surprised with the job the offensive line did, moreso than even some other years when we expected them to do pretty good," Wickline said. "... To look at what they got done, I think it's pretty unbelievable.
"I'm really proud of them - as proud of them as any group that I've been around, based on their circumstances."
Those circumstances involved replacing three starters from last year's line, including center Grant Garner, the Big 12 offensive lineman of the year, and right tackle Levy Adcock, another All-Big 12 selection.
Throw in the preseason dismissal of left tackle Michael Bowie, and Wickline had to rely on inexperienced players regardless of whether they were ready.
"To find out how good you are and how much better they can get is when you have a bunch of new guys and you have talent to replace," Wickline said. "And they delivered. They really delivered."
During the regular season, OSU's line paved the way for All-Big 12 running back Joseph Randle, leading to 1,341 yards and 14 touchdowns. Its 10 sacks are tied for eighth-fewest in the country.
In a radio interview two weeks ago, recently departed offensive coordinator Todd Monken said OSU's trio of previously unseasoned quarterbacks (Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf) wouldn't have performed well if not for the offensive line.
"It really starts with our coach; I truly believe coach Wickline is the best in the business," center Evan Epstein said. "Anytime you have a group of guys who's been through adversity and you have a tough coach who knows what he's talking about, you can have some success.
"It also says a lot about our offense. We have depth, and everyone is interchangeable."
Throughout the quarterback carousel, the offensive line didn't miss a beat, and there wasn't a single botched snap from Epstein.
"It really didn't matter who the quarterback was," Wickline said. "Our job is the same. ... We don't concern ourselves who's injured and who's throwing back there."
After this season, Wickline will have another pair of talented seniors to replace. Tuesday's Heart of Dallas Bowl against Purdue will be the final game for Epstein and All-Big 12 right guard Lane Taylor, who has started a team-high 48 games at OSU.
"I couldn't have asked for a better situation than to play my last game in my hometown," Epstein said. "... It had to come to an end sometime. Hopefully it will end on a positive note."
In 2013, starters Parker Graham, Brandon Webb and Daniel Koenig are expected to return, along with backups Jake Jenkins, Eli Dickerson, Devin Davis and Chris Grisbhy. The Cowboys also will have redshirt freshmen Zac Veatch and Michael Wilson and juco transfer Brandon Garrett.
"It's going to be, I predict, an exciting future for this program," Epstein said. "We've got a lot of young, talented guys who are ready to work and ready to make things happen."
Heart of Dallas Bowl
OSU (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
At Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas
11 a.m. Tuesday
Radio: KFAQ am1170
Original Print Headline: Coach: O-line delivered
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452