Paul Rhoads was pleased to see Jamison Lalk return to action last week as it added another body to the depth chart of the offensive line. Lalk got some second-half snaps.
Tuesday, however, Rhoads started his media conference with the news that senior Kyle Lichtenberg’s injury at Baylor was more severe than initially thought.
It’s another one-for-one switch (Lalk is back, Lichtenberg is gone) for the Cyclone’s injury-plagued and inexperienced offensive line.
“That means we’ll be playing our seventh different offensive line (in as many games),” Rhoads said of this weekend’s encounter with Oklahoma State.
Baylor and Kansas State have started the same line in all 6 games to date. Oklahoma and Texas have used only two starting lineups in 7 and 6 games, respectively. Texas Tech and West Virginia have used 3 lineups in 7 weeks and Kansas 3 in 6 weeks.
For the Cyclones, it will be 7 different line combinations in 7 weeks.
Youth has also been a complicating factor.
“I looked out there Sunday (at practice) and we had sophomore, sophomore, junior, sophomore and freshman across the board (from tackle to tackle) on the o-line,” Rhoads said.
Just to give some perspective to the Cyclones’ inexperience up front, I assigned points for the number of seniors (4), juniors (3), sophomores (2) and freshmen (1) on Big 12 offensive line projected starter lists.
The Cyclones totaled 10 points with Tom Farniok (jr.), Brock Dagel (soph.), Lalk (soph.), Oni Omoile (soph.) and Daniel Burton (fresh.) the probable starters for Saturday.
West Virginia (18 points), Texas (17), Oklahoma State (17), Oklahoma (17), Kansas State (17), Kansas (17), Baylor (16), TCU (14) and Texas Tech (13) all have significantly more experience in the trenches.
ISU’s Burton is the only freshman lineman in the Big 12 listed as a starter this week.
“That’s what we’ve got right now,” Rhoads said.
Each week the experience meter goes up and that should pay dividends down the road, including the last half of this season.