STILLWATER — Experience matters in the trenches of politics — and Division I football games.
Having started 36 games for the Cowboys, senior guard Lane Taylor has a detailed scouting report on whether a defensive tackle prefers to bull rush on a key passing down or is focused on clogging the middle on running plays.
“It definitely helps having seen so much,” Taylor said. “If you've already played a guy, you know what his tendencies are and what he likes to do. It gives you a little bit of an upper hand because you've been there before.
“Some guys are different. Some defenses are different. There are different talent levels. When you've done it for as long as I have with so many different varieties, you've really seen it all. It kind of gives you an advantage.”
Taylor is one of just two offensive lineman with much experience.
An inexperienced O-line will lean on Taylor, especially early in the season.
“Lane Taylor will always be where he's supposed to be,” offensive line coach Joe Wickline said. “He'll always do what he's supposed to do.”
As a redshirt freshman, Taylor climbed the depth chart. He took over at right guard early in the season. He helped the Cowboys lead the Big 12 in rushing for a fourth consecutive season.
The next two seasons, Taylor was part of a line that helped the Cowboys finish in the top-three nationally in scoring and total offense.
Taylor has provided holes for running backs such as Kendall Hunter and Jeremy Smith and protection for quarterbacks Zac Robinson and Brandon Weeden.
With OSU ranked among the highest-scoring teams in the country throughout his career, does Taylor have a favorite play?
“I've had a lot of them,” Taylor said. “One of my favorite was last year against OU, when they circled me (on the telestrator), a pick block that opened a huge hole.”
Also high on the list was Smith's 74-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter last season against Texas. Smith's run gave the Cowboys a two-touchdown lead en route to OSU posting wins in back-to-back years in Austin.
“I sealed the gap off and looked to my left,” Taylor said. “All I saw was the end zone and Jeremy racing down the field. That was one was pretty cool.
“It's great when our running backs get recognition. We know if it wasn't for us they wouldn't have some of the success they have.”
Those are the type of experiences OSU's elder statesman can pass along to teammates filling offensive line vacancies.
“I know we have a lot of guys that haven't started as many games, but we have people with experience,” Taylor said. “I think the O-line is going to be great. We're going to be a great run-blocking unit and good pass-blocking unit. I think we'll do very well.”
LANE TAYLOR'S CAMPAIGN SLOGAN
“Lane to Success”
Lane Taylor isn't just the Cowboys' most experienced offensive lineman. He's the most experienced player on the roster. He'll be a key veteran presence while the Cowboys break in a true freshman quarterback.
LANE TAYLOR'S CAMPAIGN ENDORSEMENTS
* OSU offensive lineman Evan Epstein: “He's married. He has great family values and he's an absolute monster on the field. That's what you want — a nice guy in the locker room, a mean guy on the field.”
* OSU defensive lineman Cooper Bassett: “Experience matters. Lane Taylor has gotten the job done for three years.”
* OSU offensive lineman Jonathan Rush: “Lane is a big teddy bear.”