Mike Gundy would have preferred Oklahoma State’s open week fallen weeks ago, but the timing may prove important for the Cowboys.
The previous two games, OSU had been working with a makeshift offensive line with injuries along the front.
But with the week away from competition, the Cowboys may be getting the whole gang back together in time for No. 18-ranked Baylor this weekend during Oklahoma State’s homecoming game at Boone Pickens Stadium.
The most notable benefactor of the week off was left tackle Dylan Galloway, who missed the Kansas State and Texas Tech games after suffering a right leg injury in the Texas game.
“He’s back, he was practicing with us (Sunday) night,” Gundy said of Galloway on Monday. “Depending on how he progresses, hopefully we can get him back out there this week.”
While Galloway was sidelined, the Cowboys have used two different lineups along the offensive line.
Against Kansas State, redshirt freshman Bryce Bray moved from right guard to fill in at left tackle. In the Texas Tech contest, redshirt junior Teven Jenkins – who missed the K-State game with an injury – shifted from right guard to right time and Bray took Jenkins’ spot at right tackle.
“It happens, injuries are part of the game,” Gundy said. “When you start shuffling around those five guys, I’m not a big fan of that. If we didn’t have injuries, very seldom do we move those guys, even in years we struggled.
“If we don’t keep them in the same spots, it’s not easy for them to get better. Some other guys are also getting a little experience and they’re getting better, too.”
For Bray, moving along the line hasn’t been that big of a deal.
Throughout fall camp, the Bixby native had gotten some work in at left tackle before the coaching staff elected to start him at right guard to open the season.
“It really hasn’t been that bad,” Bray said. “That’s one thing Coach (Charlie) Dickey has really kind of tried to instill in all of us, is you’re not just one position, you’re an entire offensive line. So it really hasn’t been that bad just flipping around right, left, guard, tackle. It’s just what he’s training us to do.”
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound four-star offensive lineman has actually looked at the opportunity to take different looks along the line as a learning tool to help him evolve his game.
“It’s helped tremendously, moving all over the place, because you’re not so single-minded on worrying about a speed-rush kind of guy, because you may have to play guard and have to deal with a big, ole guard who bullrushes all the time.
“So it’s been great having the opportunity to do that – to broaden my perspective on the game.”
Getting Galloway back and allowing the Cowboy offensive line to run out with its top-five players may be important this week, though.
The Baylor team coming into Stillwater this weekend for a 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday on FOX boasts one of the best defensive fronts at getting pressure on the quarterback.
The Bears rank seventh in Division I in sacks with 23 on the year. While many may point to Baylor’s weak nonconference schedule as a possibility for those numbers, 14 of the sacks have actually come in its three Big 12 Conference games.
“They just have to do what you’re told,” Gundy said of his offensive line. “We have to put the best five on the field based on our opponent, our strengths and maybe their weaknesses.
“Maturity plays a role in that as well. You can never bypass the importance of the snap. You always have to take that into account.”