Who they are: We already wrote about how OSU can’t afford to lose Nick Martinez or Jonathan Rush (this was before we found out that Martinez would actually be a back-up), but the fact of the matters is that these five (six) guys might be five of the most important to OSU’s title run this year. Without them Weeden is a slow-footed QB consistently throwing off his back foot into a double covered Justin Blackmon. Without them Joseph Randle is not much more than a glorified ballet dancer in the backfield looking to get some ACLs lit up.
What they do: The front five (who incredibly started and played every single game) ranked 8th nationally in total sacks allowed with 10. Even more impressively, take a look at the teams who ranked ahead of them withe their total pass attempts listed to the right. Nobody was within 100 pass attempts of the Cowboys, which makes those 10 sacks look even more staggering.
Air Force – 168
Stanford – 379
Army – 138
Oregon – 394
TCU – 331
Boise St. – 424
SDSU – 426
Navy – 157
OSU – 532
Where they fit in: Joe Wickline apparently thinks they can be better. He just replaced last year’s ace left tackle (Weeden’s most important lineman) with junior college transfer, Michael Bowie. To recap that: the most important position on, arguably, the best offensive line in the country was replaced this offseason because Wickline thinks they can be better. Will Melanie Weeden even need to do laundry this year?
Why they matter: They matter because over the last four years they have allowed 47 total sacks. In that same time span OSU has finished in the top 7 in total offense three times. You don’t need an advanced Excel class to tell you there’s a correlation here.
This post is part of our series on the 20 most important people to a 2011 Oklahoma State title run. Check the full list out here.