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2012 Position Review: Offensive line

Gabe Ikard

What did we think/hope would happen?

It looked like in early August that OU finally had quality OL depth that would go ten deep allowing OU to keep their OL fresh.

Starting tackles would be Darryl Wlliams and Lane Johnson with Tyrus Thompson providing depth. Starting guards would be Tyler Evans and Gabe Ikard with Bronson Irwin, Adam Shead and Nila Kasitati providing depth. Starting center would be Ben Habern with Ikard as the primary backup Derek Farniok would get some reps at tackle during blowout time. Freshman center Ty Darlington would redshirt.

What did happen?

All elements of depth would disappear during the year.

OU ended the season starting Johnson and Thompson at tackle, Shead and Irwin at guard, and Ikard at center, with the only meaningful depth provided by Darlington at center allowing Ikard to play guard and Farniok backing up the first-team tackles.

Despite all the chaos, the OU OL had a great season, holding up well enough for the Sooners to generate 4,000 yards passing and nearly 2,000 yards rushing for the year. Landry Jones got elite pass protection through most of November, including the TCU game in December where Johnson and Thompson kept the Horned Frogs' vaunted duo of defensive ends at bay. As bodies continued to fall due to injury, the only part of the O that really suffered was the Sooner ground game to a certain degree.

What went right?

*OU's 2010 OL class made up four-fifths of the starting OL at times, and those kids did an excellent job keeping the unit afloat.

*The line just dominated Texas all game in both pass and run blocking.

*For the year, the line enabled OU to post 505 yards and 40 points per game. It provided Landry with time to throw nearly the whole season, and at least at times, the running game was a real weapon.

*The ability to be consistent while constantly juggling the lineup was amazing.

What went wrong?

*Habern had to retire due to neck injury.

*Evans tore his ACL in August.

*Kasitati tore his ACL against Texas, robbing OU of interior depth and the Sooners' best run blocker.

*Gabe Ikard had to miss a game with a concussion.

*Shead and Irwin fought ankle injuries most of November.

*Darryl Williams tore his MCL and missed the last three games of the season.

*With all the injuries, OU had to burn Darlington's redshirt.

Where do we go from here?

*Evans should be back in time for August Camp. Kasitati will probably be about a month behind him.

*OU has a set starting five of Thompson, Williams, Irwin, Shead, and Ikard. It's the best situation in terms of returning linemen with starting experience in a while for OU.

*Williams, Shead and Ikard are likely preseason All-Big 12 candidates.

*The new quarterback they should have a veteran OL to help. In addition, Kyle Marrs, Farniok, Nathan Hughes, and Darlington should provide further depth come August. The Sooners will need to figure out if they can redshirt Darlington and get a year back for him.

*A JUCO OT is a strong possibility to enroll in the fall to provide further depth.