Thursday, April 26, 2012
The biggest constant in OSU's Big 12 rise
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
STILLWATER, Okla.-- Oklahoma State holds the distinction of improving or equaling its previous record in every season under Mike Gundy.
During that run, the Cowboys have done it on the back of their offense.
There have been new faces at quarterback, running back, receiver and the offensive line. In the middle, there's been one constant as the Cowboys ranked in the top three of the offense-laden Big 12 in four of the past five seasons.
Oklahoma State Cowboys offensive line coach Joe Wickline is known for being tough and demanding focus.
"We might not have always been winning as many games as we have now, but offensive line has always been a constant in this program," said offensive lineman Jonathan Rush, a sixth-year senior who's seen plenty in Stillwater.
Russell Okung put OSU's offensive line on the map after being drafted sixth in the 2010 NFL draft, but the past two seasons, Joe Wickline's coached the Big 12's best offensive line, headlined by center Grant Garner and tackle Levy Adcock.
"Every year, he’s always produced quality linemen. He always has them prepared," Rush said. "He’s just a crazy guy. He eats, sleeps and breathes football. I don’t know how his family feels about that, and at times, it may be a little much or whatever, but after being hear, this'll be my sixth year, I’ve been able to appreciate how much he puts into it and how much work he does for us."
For young talents, the new experience can be a bit jarring. If they've never been challenged by a coach, Wickline changes that fast.
"He’s a tough son of a [expletive]. If he’s not, then he’s a phony son of a [expletive], but he sure seems like one," offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. "That’s a tough position. That’s a no nonsense position, and I think it fits his personality. I sit in on a few of their meetings and I think just his personality and the way he goes about it with those guys is the No. 1 reason."
Wickline's penchant for shuffling his offensive line groups during practices is infamous. Don't show up to practice and lose a spot? If the man who replaced you does it better, you might never get it back.
"Wick’s way of coaching can be a bit abrasive at times. He teaches you how to be able to take it. If you can take it from Wick, you can take it from anybody and just focus down on your mistakes and getting better," Rush said. "In the end, after being here for so long, it’s pretty funny. You can’t even put in words. You’d just have to sit in on one of his meetings. You might be a little bit shocked."
However abrasvie, Wickline's approach is working. Oklahoma State's enjoying the fruits of his labor.
"He spends ungodly hours up here watching film. His view of the game is a lot different. All he does is offensive line. He knows his stuff," Rush said. "If I could get half of Wick’s brain in offensive line-wise, that’ll be more than I’ll ever need."