Two weeks to go until OU takes on UTEP. Let's take a quick look at some of the big stories of camp as two-a-days end and classes start up.
*What's the real injury story on the offensive line?
OU has lost three OL to injuries and two defections/academic issues. Three (McGee, Latu and Dismuke) of the losses are a recruiting problem for Bruce Kittle and James Patton for signing day. The actual lineup/depth loss is Tyler Evans. OU knew all spring and summer that center Ben Habern might not go this year. Even at Big 12 Media Days, Habern was talking about playing 20 snaps per game at most. Habern's absence means Gabe Ikard's back at center, just like spring and half the season last year.
Evans' loss has a bigger impact. It means Bronson Irwin moves up to starter and Nila Kasitati moves up to back up both guard spots instead of backing up Ikard at center. OU is fine at tackle with Daryl Williams, Lane Johnson, Tyrus Thompson and Derek Farniok. OU will have to play Ty Darlington to field a true second-team OL.
On the positive side, Austin Woods' cancer recovery is going so well that he should be able to provide reps at guard and at center this fall. If OU can keep the core nine (Williams, Thompson, Johnson, Shead, Irwin, Ikard, Kasitati, Woods, Farniok) healthy, the the OL can still be a strength for the offense.
*What's going on at tight end?
Why is Geneo Grissom starting? OU needs the TEs to force their way onto the field, otherwise OU will go with more two-back looks with Millard and maybe Ripkowski.
Brannon Green is the best blocker, but he does not present a big passing threat. OU will likely try to redshirt Sam Grant. Taylor McNamara presents the best passing threat, but is still pretty light blocking wise at 230 and apparently has had a hard time keeping weight on in the brutal summer of Oklahoma.
Grissom (6-4, 255) is as big as Green and a much better athlete with excellent downfield speed. The only question is can he catch and learn the passing game. Apparently so, as Grissom has started making some plays in scrimmages. It will be an interesting development to follow. The last DE that moved to TE for the Sooners was Adrian Cooper back in the day, and on the field, that worked out very well.
*DE position seems to be in great shape.
RJ Washington and David King had great camps. Chuka Ndulue is threatening for starting reps. Rashad Favors' move to DE is really clicking, and the two frosh DEs, Charles Tapper and Michael Onuoha, look like stars of the future.
While Stacy McGee serves his suspension, King is able to play more inside at DT due to the talent and depth at the position.
*RB depth looks very good.
Dom Whaley is healthy. Brennan Clay is healthy and having his best camp ever and looks to be in great shape. Damien Williams is starting to show why OU signed him and will probably share most of the reps early with Whaley. Alex Ross, although raw at RB, reportedly has a big highlight run every scrimmage and might not redshirt. David Smith also has looked good, but should redshirt unless the injury bug hits RBs again.
*The WR panic can be dialed down a little.
The addition of Justin Brown, the development of Trey Metoyer,and the reinforcements of Lacoltan Bester, Durron Neal and Sterling Shepard have solidified the previous sucking void at WR. Kenny Stills should play the slot with Brown and Metoyer flanking him.
The second wave of WRs should be Shepard in the slot with Bester and Neal on the flanks. Derrick Woods will likely redshirt, and, unfortunately, Jalen Saunders probably won't get an NCAA waiver. If Metoyer and Brown meet the coaches' hype, OU's WR corps should be as good as 2007 or 2003.
The linebacker corps looks good after an uneven spring. Corey Nelson has focused now on playing WILL and has started to re-emerge as the playmaker that he's been projected to be since last spring. Tom Wort has the middle covered, and Joseph Ibiloye is the SAM LB. Franklin Shannon and Aaron Franklin have had excellent camps, a positive sign for the future of Sooner LB'ing. Finally, Eric Striker is looking like an excellent OLB or nickel LB.
*The QB position looks strong.
Landry Jones by all reports is having a great camp. The work with NFL QB guru George Whitfield and his summer conditioning makeover are making him a better QB in the pocket, and he apparently looks more mobile.
Blake Bell appears to have taken over the back-up QB spot, and the coaches will continue to use him in the Belldozer role. The Belldozer continues to be unstoppable in scrimmages and practice.