Cowboys offensive line coach Joe Wickline could feel sorry for himself, having lost his starting left tackle in August now two years running.
He could, but he can't.
That, Wickline said, would be time wasted.
“You coach who's in front of you,” said Wickline, forced to shuffle the offensive line after Devin Davis was lost for the season to a knee injury during preseason camp. “You love all the kids and you know what you need and you need this and you need that, but nobody ever said it would be fair. And nobody ever said it would be easy. They just said get it done.
“So you go to the next guy. And you move a guy to the left and you move a guy right and try to get the best combination and chemistry.”
In Saturday's win over Mississippi State, Wickline's reconstructed line wasn't perfect, yet it was good enough to claim a trench win over the Bulldogs and help the Cowboys power their way to the win.
“It's hard to replace Devin,” said center Jake Jenkins. “Coach Wickline always recruits guys and brings guys in that can fill a position at any time.”
OSU's starting front still has a veteran look, with seniors Parker Graham and Brandon Webb joined by juniors Jenkins, Chris Grisbhy and Daniel Koenig. Sophomore Travis Cross, the listed backup center, played extensively at guard against the Bulldogs.
The other backups, however, are inexperienced, with four redshirt freshmen among those listed on the two deep.
Still, you won't catch Wickline complaining.
“You expect guys to step up. That's what they came here for,” Wickline said. “They came here for opportunities. And guys get hurt.
“You need to say that, ‘Hey, any given time at any position, let's don't make it a miracle that you got the job done. Gee whiz, that's why you came here.'”
A DOZEN DEBUT FOR OSU
Saturday's season opener for OSU also marked the Cowboy debut for 12 players, five transfers and four true freshmen:
Redshirt freshmen — receiver Jhajuan Seales; defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah; offensive lineman Zac Veatch.
Transfers — punter/kickoff specialist Kip Smith; defensive tackle Ofa Hautau; offensive lineman Brandon Garrett; defensive end Sam Wren.
True freshmen — kicker Ben Grogan; receiver Marcell Ateman; defensive back Deric Robertson; defensive back Taylor Lewis.
ATEMAN'S IMPACT UNSUNG
After a strong preseason that created much buzz around his playmaking ability, Ateman got involved modestly as a receiver, recording one catch for six yards.
The true freshman's major contributions, however, flew under the radar, in the form of preventing two turnovers.
Ateman broke up a likely interception on a pass into traffic by Clint Chelf, stripping the ball from the hands of Mississippi State safety Jay Hughes. Later, Ateman pounced on a Jeremy Smith fumble at the OSU 37, preceding a 54-yard punt by Smith that flipped field position.
J.W. Walsh on leading the Big 12 in rushing: “I didn't know that. That's cool. The only title I want to have at the end of the season is Big 12 champs. I couldn't care less about the rest of that.”
OPPONENT WATCH: UTSA
Roadrunners coach Larry Coker is familiar to OSU fans as a former assistant and offensive coordinator with the Cowboys from 1983-89.
And Coker's UTSA staff offers more Oklahoma connections.
Assistant Eric Roark played in the secondary at OSU under Jimmy Johnson from 1979-82 and got his coaching start at Southeastern Oklahoma State in 1984. Defensive coordinator Neal Neathery is a native of Stillwater.
Beyond football, athletic director Lynn Hickey is a native of Welch, where she was a standout basketball player for her father, Kenneth Sooter. And UTSA men's basketball coach Brooks Thompson was a two-time All-Big Eight guard for the Cowboys during his career from 1992-94.