A Line That Barry Must Cross

I’m sitting here, racking my brain, trying to fight through a minor case of ‘writer’s block’. Once I came to the conclusion of what to write, “blocking” made a whole lot of sense. It made sense because blocking is something the Oklahoma State Cowboys did not do well last season. 

Senior Chris Carson was the team’s leading rusher in 2015 and that was with 517 yards and 4 touchdowns. The next leading rusher was J.W. Walsh (the backup quarterback) with 359 yards and 13 touchdowns. Every successful team is built from the inside, out. You have to have bullies down in the trenches. Guys that are smart, athletic, big and just plain nasty! OSU was just…nasty…I watched some film from last year to examine the line and see if these were fixable issues or if the line was lacking the necessary talent to be elite. Or perhaps the rumors are true and all the Cowboys need is, in fact, a running back. So who is to blame? What is the solution?

After a few games, it’s apparent that not only is the line about as thick as a fishing line but they are overlooking some small fundamentals of the position.

Along the O-line, the combos are more of a happy meal right now. For those not familiar with combo blocks; it is when two offensive linemen block the same defensive lineman to push him back and into a certain linebacker, then once the linebacker chooses a side of the combo block to go on, the offensive lineman to that side peels off the defensive lineman and blocks the linebacker. It allows you to get a double team block at the point of attack without sacrificing a blocker to do it. Most blocking schemes employ it somewhere, especially in zone blocking schemes which you’ll see OU employ. Unfortunately, OSU gets no push on those combo blocks at all. It seems they run block like they pass block. Like their goal is to just be a wall between the defender and the backfield and sort of two-step and tickle the defender instead of attacking and putting someone on their back.

The good news is that after a year, the Cowboys return a more mature line. A couple cheeseburgers and some rest added some weight and the constant mistakes and misreads can be fixed through repetition and film study. The tools are there but the chemistry is not.

So possibly, the rumors can be true. A decent running back could be the missing ingredient the chemist needs.

Chris Carson is a JUCO transfer that chose the Pokes last year over the Georgia Bulldogs has the makeup and ceiling to be an incredible running back but he still has a little learning to do in his decision making. He’s getting better but still misses on some big plays by lacking the vision to see a hole. Sometimes, even bad lines can create a crease that a good running back has to exploit. Surely, Carson has improved in this area but the running back that all OSU fans are excited for is Barry J. Sanders.

At this point, it’s not breaking news that the “Prodigal Son” of Stillwater is returning for his senior season after graduating from Stanford. Sanders, a shifty back that is good at making a play, is bringing his talents to the Big 12. It isn’t all genetic, right? I mean the kid has speed, vision, ability to accelerate through a hole and an almost ‘sixth sense’ awareness to make a man miss in a way that’s only been seen by…that’s right…his Father

As an OU fan, I rather enjoyed the one-dimensional offense of the Cowboys. However, a playmaker is exactly what that offense needs. Barry has struggled to find his place on the field at Stanford, mostly because the Cardinals have had a talented stable of running backs every year. Now that Barry is wearing the putrid Orange, gosh these typos..

Now that Barry is wearing orange he can expect not only the high expectations but an offense committed to making him successful. Of course, he has to win the starting job, and OSU has kept their cards close to chest this preseason in regards to the running back competition, but Barry is focused on making the most of his opportunity.

“Obviously, the one thing I have learned from my father’s career, is that it just takes one year.” said Sanders.

You will be hard pressed to find anyone in Norman who will admit they are worried about OSU, but in the back of every Sooner fan’s head is the realization that the Pokes are 1 running back away from fielding a formidable offense.

Sanders averaged 5.8 yards per carry in three seasons at Stanford but the total is only 115 carries for 672 yards. The possibility of him being the primary back has got to make fans excited. Even his former head coach, David Shaw, will be tuning in to see what Barry can do.

“I’m excited to see what 20 carries a game will be for a guy like Barry Sanders.”

Rest assured Oklahoma State is ready for history to repeat itself, and the nation is holding out hope that it does.


About the author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.


  1. Sanders Jr. has a degree from Stanford, but he must not have much common football sense if he is going to try to run behind that soft O-line in Stillwater. Pray for him.

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