By Jason Elmquist
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Though Bob Connelly has been with the Oklahoma State program for a month, this week was his first opportunity to work with the offensive linemen — and the first time those linemen worked with a coach not named Joe Wickline.
Connelly was out of coaching at the collegiate level for the 2013 season and had accepted a job at Georgia Southern three days before joining the Cowboy staff.
“It seems to be going very well. He has experienced coaching at a high level,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said during Monday’s press conference previewing spring practice. “He understands our tempo and our style of offense. Same scheme. Same philosophy of what we think is best for Oklahoma State’s offense.
“I like his work habits. He is from Texas. He has recruited Texas. So there were a lot of things that he brought to the table that really fit our program.”
Though the offensive line coach hadn’t been working with players during his first month in Stillwater, he still had plenty to prepare himself for his new job.
While Connelly may have had a similar scheme and philosophy, he still had to learn the tendencies of offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich — who himself is only in his second year at the Division I level.
“Every day since he’s been hired (we’ve worked together), just been trying to get on the same page and talk and look at as much film as we can and break it down,” Yurcich said. “Those things are really important to do when you get any coach that’s new to the program.”
Connelly will have his work cut out for him though, with a handful of departures due to graduation and another couples players sidelined with injuries here in the spring.
He will inherit at least one lineman that has pro potential. Devin Davis, who missed last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, received praise as a potential NFL prospect, but he will miss the spring slate while he continues to rehab from the knee injury.
Daniel Koenig will be the only multi-year letterman returning on the offensive line for Oklahoma State. He started 11 games for the Cowboys last season with an injury preventing him from playing the UTSA and Lamar games.
“We’re OK, but you could have three starters that won’t be here in the spring and Jake Jenkins is four and Travis Cross was his backup, so that’s five in the two-deep,” Gundy said. “We have to be smart how we handle that position and bring those guys along.
“The linebacker spot and the offensive line spot, we are thin at right now. So we just have to be careful how we do the reps with the 1s and the 2s throughout the spring.”
The new offensive line coach will have plenty big shoes to fill. Under Wickline’s tenure at Oklahoma State — he was the last holdover from Gundy’s original coaching staff — the Cowboys were consistently among the top rushing teams in the Big 12 Conference, and the nation.
Since 2006, OSU had seven offensive linemen earn All-Big 12 first team honors, with Russell Okung — a top 10 NFL draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks — earning unanimous All-America honors in 2009 and Levy Adcock earning consensus All-America recognition in 2011.
Several other linemen have gone on to play at the NFL level, with Lane Taylor — a first team All-Big 12 selection and four-year starter on the offensive line at Oklahoma State — making the Green Bay Packers roster last season.