NCAA Football~15 Days

The 2012 Sooners graduated 21 players and lost a few others to the NFL after their Junior seasons. As a result, 7 starters return on offense and 4 starters on defense.

At the start of last season the offensive line was a major concern, particularly in terms of depth, as two starters were lost before the season began with what would prove career ending injuries, and a promising freshman guard was lost early in the season with a knee injury. The Sooners didn’t panic and the young men that comprised the O-line performed very well.

Now, with the 2013 season soon to begin, the OU O-line may be one of the best in the nation and they only lost one starter from last year’s group, the #4 overall pick in the NFL draft, OT Lane Johnson(a former JUCO QB).

Not only is the current O-line returning 5 starters, they are also returning depth at each O-line position, along with three JUCO standout O-line performers who are expected to contribute immediately.

The O-line group has as its undisputed leader, Senior(already graduated with a 4.0 and academic All-American) Gabe Ikard, who is on many national and conference award watch lists. Ikard will start at Center, but is also capable of playing Guard, after coming to OU as a tight end.

Two BIG changes for the 2013 season, a new O-line coach, Bill Bedenbaugh, along with Director of Sports Nutrition, Tiffany Byrd. With Byrd working with all OU athletes, many of the OU football players state they have noticed a difference in their ability to perform, some have gained weight while maintaining speed, others have lost weight and feel fresher and stronger. Bedenbaugh has worked with Coach Jerry Schmidt(Director of Sports Enhancement) to transform the O-line for what appears to be a move to a more powerful running game. With improved nutrition, the emphasis has been made for the O-line to work with more weights and add muscle bulk, and not running as much.

Looking at the Sooners in recent years, the O-line was designed to be more athletic and with good aerobic fitness for the fast paced “up tempo” offense. With recent changes, it appears that the OU offense will utilize the power running game more, which will make the passing game even more dangerous. Gabe Ikard mentioned above has for the first time reached the 300lb. weight mark and he has stated he feels stronger. This became identified as a needed change after the 2012 season, as the Sooners had little difficulty running against most opponents, but in the two losses to top ranked opponents, the Sooners netted 92 yards rushing against KSU and 15 yards against ND, with a season per game rushing average of 161 yards,

Not only having a seasoned group at O-line, the Sooners return 3 Senior running backs, a Senior fullback(who is viewed as a RB in the NFL), they have a stable of 3 additional RBs(2 red-shirt freshman and 1 freshman) who could start for many D-I teams. With a new starting QB to yet be named, whoever gets the job will be surrounded with experience and talent.

The expected two deep roster for the O-line:
LT-Tyrus Thompson-6’5″ 320lbs. (R-Jr)
Derek Farniok- 6’9″ 325lbs. (R-So)

LG-Adam Shead- 6’4″ 316lbs. (R-Jr)
Austin Woods-6’4″ 311lbs. (Sr.)

C-Gabe Ikard- 6’3″ 300lbs. (R-Sr)
Ty Darlington-6’3″ 288lbs. (Soph)

RG-Tyler Evans- 6’5″ 305lbs (R-Sr)
Bronson Irwin- 6’5″ 314lbs.(Sr)

RT-Daryl Williams-6’6″ 321lbs.(R-Jr)

*Expected to contribute:
Dionte Savage-6’5″ 340lbs.(Jr)
Josiah St.John-6’6″ 305lbs.(Jr)
Nila Kasitati-6’4″ 312lbs. (R-Soph)
Tony Feo-6’4″ 292lbs. (R-Jr)

It’s almost time.

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