OL Still Searching for Cohesion

Ben Habern

After all the questioning from the outside in the preseason about how the offensive line would stack up in 2009, it was shaky in the season opener against Brigham Young.

The game was littered with false start and holding penalties, a few of which were at very costly times.

One of the major penalties was a false start committed by junior Cory Brandon with just more than a minute left in the game and the Sooners driving on the 32-yard line.

OU ultimately missed what would have been the game-winning field goal after that costly penalty moved them to the very brink of field goal range.

So, the Sooners set out to correct some of those problems and seemed to resolve some of them in last week's game, although it's difficult to tell considering the extreme mismatch in competition between OU and the Idaho State Bengals.

"I'm sure there's some [improvement], but again, it's something that will be ongoing," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "It needs to continue to build."

There were several guys that Stoops said did particularly well against the Bengals.

A couple of them were players who performed well despite the group suffering in the opening game against the Cougars.

"Trent [Williams] had a solid game again," Stoops said. "Brody [Eldridge], even though he wasn't in there [at line]—he was a tight end—had another excellent game, but they overall graded a little bit better for sure."

Another lineman Stoops singled out as having a good outing, especially with the weather conditions, was starting freshman center Ben Habern.

"Ben did a nice job," Stoops said. "He, again, handled a wet ball all day. I thought he and Landry together through the whole day did a really good job."

Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson mentioned a couple other players on the line that had good games.

"Jarvis [Jones] played solid, well at tackle, needs to do better, but did well," Wilson said. "Brian played more solid than he did the first game, Brian Simmons."

So, after more reliable play in the second game, the question now is whether or not the starting line is set.

"We're too early into it for anybody to have earned anything too much," Stoops said. "In the end, we'll see how they can do this week and who does the job most consistently through the week, and when we get into the game, who's executing like we feel they need to."

Making the starting lineup set in stone this soon could slow down the competition.

"Again, we'll play seven, eight, nine guys, keep them rotating, keep them competing, keep them coming," Wilson said. "I'm excited about the young guys, and hope our old guys keep competing and playing at a high level."

So while there was some obvious improvement, the coaches are still looking for more out of the group.

"I'd like for there to be eight up front that you can count on and [that] you like when they're in there, and they're playing the way you want them to," Stoops said. "I'd love to have 10, but I'd settle for eight right now."

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