August 3, 2012

Filling in the blind side

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy announced on Wednesday that projected starting left tackle Michael Bowie would not be with the team this season due to violations of team rules. After the first practice of the fall, offensive line coach Joe Wickline talked to the media for the first time since Gundy's announcement.

"We're still going to kick the ball off and play the schedule, so I don't think there's a whole lot of options there," Wickline said. "I don't spend a lot of time worrying about things I can't control, so I haven't even thought about that.

"I wish the best for Mike. He is basically a really good kid - he's had some personal issues that I know he'll get worked out."

It's not the first go-round for Wickline in dealing with losing a projected starter. In fact, he pointed to two examples in his tenure at OSU of losing current starters in the middle of a season.

"All you have to do, from a line-coaching position is like we've always done, he said. Whether it was losing a David Washington in the Troy game (2007) breaks his leg, or last year our guard goes out. Jonathan Rush was a senior, good player for us. You make adjustments."

Junior Parker Graham is the most experienced at the left tackle position, starting one game there in 2011 and playing extensively in several other games. He went into fall camp atop the depth chart at right tackle, but got the first crack at the left side on Friday morning. Wickline is known for tinkering with his lineup throughout fall camp, so one day doesn't mean much.

"I've done it for a long time. People say it's the left tackle is the premier position. I've never thought about that. I've thought about it 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. If you get your best left tackle, and he can't communicate to the guard what the entire scheme is, you're going to breakdown before it's over with. When it's over with, we'll get the best five on the field. After that, we'll find the third tackle and second center accordingly and we'll get as many reps as we can get. It's kind of what we do."

While Graham got the first look on Friday, Wickline said he has a group of four that will vie for the starting jobs at both tackle positions through fall camp.

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