Last night, we reported that Devin Davis, Oklahoma State’s projected starting left tackle for 2013, recently sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. It’s certainly a blow to the Cowboys’ offensive line just before the season begins.
Here are some more random thoughts on the season-ending injury:
It’s easy to compare this situation to last year’s preseason left tackle departure, after Michael Bowie violated team rules. Some key differences:
*Joe Wickline and the Cowboys had all of fall camp last year to try different combinations on the line. They ended up going with the first guy they plugged in at that spot, Parker Graham, who wound up starting 11 games. Wickline has had some time to adjust this year, too, just not as much.
*Last year’s offensive line had more experience. A guy like Daniel Koenig was ready to slide into a starting role at right tackle, which allowed Graham to flip sides. This year, every player listed as a backup on the most recent depth chart we have is either in their first or second year in the program. The only one with game experience at OSU is Chris Grisbhy, and that came in just two contests (Savannah State and Baylor).
*Captain Obvious Statement of the Day: Mississippi State is not Savannah State. That means the new starter won’t have a game to ease into things.
*All that said, Wickline seems to always figure it out. That’s why he’s regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country. And this is when his mix-and-match philosophy becomes really beneficial.
Here’s a look at the likely candidates to replace Davis:
*Parker Graham: He started 11 games at left tackle last season but was projected to mostly play guard in 2013.
*Michael Wilson: He’s listed as Davis’ backup on the most recent depth chart. A redshirt freshman, he was a four-star recruit and considered one of the top gets of the 2012 class after decommitting from Texas A&M and pledging to the Cowboys late in the process.
*Chris Grisbhy: A junior college transfer in his second year in the program. He listed as a backup right guard on the most recent depth chart but has also spent some time at tackle so far in his OSU career. He has a bit of an odd story. He only played high school football his sophomore year, but then went to Blinn College (the same school that produced former Cowboy linebacker Alex Elkins), redshirted his first year then became a real contributor his second year.
This situation also reminded me of some comments Wickline made after Bowie’s situation a year ago. Left tackle is generally regarded as the premier offensive line position. Wickline, simply, doesn’t feel that way.
“I’ve never thought about that,” Wickline said. “I’ve thought about that a little bit, but the thing I think about (is) after you get your center, get your best combination of your five on the field.
“Because if you get your best left tackle, and he can’t communicate to your guard what the entire scheme is, you’re going to break down before it’s over with. So we’ll to get our best five on the field.”