shead Bringing It All Together | Offensive Line

Image via zimbio.com

LT: Tyrus Thompson
Redshirt Senior
6’5″ 336

Tyrus went down late against K-State in the 11th game last year due to a leg injury. He missed a couple of our biggest games in Oklahoma State and Alabama, but up until that point he was playing really well. In the first half against K-State we had run for over 200 yards, and before Tyrus hurt his leg it looked like we were going to run all over K-State at will in Manhattan. At that point it was the first game Trevor really looked good, and that game in my opinion was a precursor to the sugar bowl. Once Tyrus went down, the offense kind of went with him. Derek Farniok stepped in and for his first significant playing time, didn’t play bad, but Tyrus was playing on a very high level to that point. His absence was really noticed against Oklahoma State, but by the time the Sugar Bowl rolled around Daryl Williams moved over to the left side and Bronson Irwin kicked out from his guard spot to play the right. With Tyrus healthy again, Oklahoma has a pair of potential All-Conference tackles in he and Williams. I look for Tyrus to have a big year. He’s that typical left tackle who has a cornerback mentality of being on an island and locking down defenders.

LG: Adam Shead
Redshirt Senior
6’4″ 339

When Adam was a redshirt freshman, in my opinion he was hands down our best offensive lineman. On that power play, he was a force to be reckoned with pulling around into the hole. Blake Bell got a lot of publicity when we introduced the “BellDozer”, but during that time it was often Adam who was leading the way while Blake was racking up those scores from close range. The next year, Adam hurt his back and was a warrior his sophomore year playing hurt for most of it.  In the big overtime win at home against O-State two years ago, it was rumored that Adam was really having a hard time walking in the second half. Like a true O-lineman, he fought through it and helped us pull out a big win. Adam is one of those guys who, when healthy, is a truly special player. He has those sledgehammer hands you hear me talk about all the time, and if he’s finally healthy could really flourish in the scheme that Coach Bedenbaugh has now. I’m hoping he has a great year for the team and for sentimental reasons too. If Adam returns to form, there’s no telling how good he could be. With him on top of the depth chart, he’s for sure someone I’m going to be watching.

C: Ty Darlington
Junior
6’2″ 286

Ty is now in his 3rd year in the program. Like Gabe Ikard before him, he’s a major brainiac (no pun intended, lol). Ty scored a 33 on his ACT, and a 2060 on his SAT. Typically your centers need to be the smartest guys on the team due to line calls and stuff, but with Gabe the last four years and now Ty, the center position at Oklahoma has stepped to the forefront of leading the nation in cerebral ability. Like Mark Stepnoski, who used to play center for the Cowboys, Ty is the small guy among a group of gigantic offensive linemen for the Sooners. Ty wrestled in high school, understands how to use leverage, and may be a bit more powerful than Gabe. While you can’t replace the savvy and leadership a guy like Gabe brought to the table, I look for Ty to have a solid year in this his first as a starter.

RG: Nila Kasitati
Redshirt Junior
6’4″ 315

Nila’s a guy that has played at left guard, center, or on the right side for the last three years. He’s on top of my list of guys on the team I’d least like to meet in an alley, just because of the warrior reputation of the Polynesian people.  Naturally, Nila plays with a lot of pride and from time to time you hear little snippets coming out of camp about how he’s just one of those guys who is for no better way to put it, a grown ass man. Nila spent time at both guard positions last year and is backing up the center position this year as well. That versatility is going to serve us well in case of an injury. His ability to slide to center or another guard spot while having Dionte Savage or Tyler Evans step in, depending on what the situation, is hugely valuable.  Next year, with three starters graduating, his leadership and experience are going to be what could possibly hold the o-line together.

RT: Daryl Williams
Redshirt Senior
6’6″ 329

Daryl is a guy, like Nila, who can play a lot of different spots. Unlike most right tackles, Daryl is a guy who is plenty athletic enough to play on the left side. Sometimes guys just feel more comfortable playing on one side or the other, and over time the word has been that Daryl prefers to play the right side. With Tyrus over on the left, and Lane Johnson before that, Daryl has quietly become one of the better offensive linemen on the team. Honorable mention All-Big 12 as a sophomore and 2nd team last year, Daryl is poised to become an All-American this year. His goals are to win the conference, a national championship, and the Outland trophy this year. By all reports, Daryl has worked his rear end off this summer and has been the enforcer on the team if anyone has been slacking in workouts. Coach Schmidt has raved about his work ethic this summer and that’s rare praise from a guy who’s normally pretty stoic. Once in a while on every great team there’s that one guy you don’t want to eff with. Forget even getting to the coaches, Daryl’s the kind of guy the other players answer to. He’s a guy who walks the walk every day and who everyone respects. That kind of attitude permeates through to the rest of the squad, and when you have a bull leading arguably the most important position group, anything’s possible.

Backups:

G: Dionte Savage
Senior
6’4″ 343

Dionte started his first game against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. There’s a way to start your career right?! Well Dionte steps in and plays a heck of a game against Alabama, and now finds himself in a very crowded interior of the offensive line. There are four legitimate upper classmen guards who could play the two spots. Him, Tyler Evans and the two starters Adam Shead and Nila Kasitati, make this the deepest interior OU offensive line I can remember. Reports came out last fall about Dionte coming in and asking the other players flat out whose spot he was going to take. At a position where you have to play with attitude and be a guy with that kind of mindset, Dionte personifies the shift in body type and mentality that Coach Bedenbaugh has taken this position group away from since James Patton left town. No longer are the dancing bears en vogue, Bedenbaugh is bringing in guys like Joseph Paul 6’4″ 374, Orlando Brown 6’8″ 340, Cody Ford 6’4″ 340 and even at the center position with last year’s Alex Dalton 6’4″ 282, you’ve got bigger framed kids who can naturally hold more weight. Couple that frame with the hard nosed nature that Dionte has, and you’ve got something to work with. His brother is a boxer and the guy comes from Flint, Michigan. Dionte strikes me as a guy who just wants to play. He’ll fight you for everything he’s got, and you can’t help but love having a guy like that on your team.

G: Tyler Evans
Redshirt Senior
6’5″ 339

Tyler’s another guy who I’m expecting big things from this year. Tyler tore his ACL and missed all of last year, but inadvertantly is a guy that Patton recruited who I think fits Bedenbaugh’s system to a tee. He’s a guy that has a reputation for being tough, hard nosed, and has been around a while. As a true freshman, he started four games and played in 11. Then in 2011, like Daryl Williams, was honorable mention All Big-12. With the shift away from opening holes laterally and depending on the defense to open themselves up to a more knock you off the ball type approach, Tyler is someone who I think could have been preseason All Big-12 had he played in the system last year. He’s just a guy like Wes Sims from a few years ago who wasn’t always the prettiest, but just found a way to get it done. While he’s not starting, I expect him to get a lot of time and if someone gets hurt it’ll be hard to keep him off the field.

T: Derek Farniok
Redshirt Junior
6’9″ 329

Derek got his first significant playing time last year when Tyrus Thompson went down against K-State. The following week against Oklahoma State he got his first start and played well enough for us to come out with a win. Given the interior depth we had with Savage and Nila, Bronson was able to show his versatility and kick out to right tackle while Daryl popped over to the left side against Alabama. I think it was more of a situation that you wanted to get your five best offensive linemen on the field against Alabama, and while Derek’s no slouch, it gave you a guy in Bronson who was athletic enough to play right, who had a ton of experience. Daryl sliding over also gave you the most athletic, healthy tackle we had on the left. Now for Derek himself, he’s obviously a giant. At 6’9″ he’s got a reach that won’t quit, and to me is a perfect fit on the right side, which is where he shows on the depth chart. Derek’s hand usage and learning to unload those tree trunks is where he needs work. Being a technician with his hands is where Derek needs the most work. Watch the Tunch Punch videos if you have time to see what great hand usage can do for you. Derek is athletic enough to be a good tackle and if he learns how to work those hands, he could be a fortress. You know how those NFL guys love that size he has. Cock ‘em and unload ‘em, my man.

T: Kenyon Frison
True Freshman
6’6″ 300

Kenyon is the true freshman I see with the most chance to get playing time this year. With both tackles graduating and Farniok’s move to the right side, both in the spring as well as on the depth chart, Coach Bedenbaugh needs someone to step up and take that left tackle spot next year. You have Daimler 6’7″ 300 and Grant 6’7″ 281 who are also gonna be in the mix, but I just think that Frison may get some time to get him ready to be in the mix mentally. He had most OU fans and coaches sweating up until the end of the signing period last winter, and he’s someone who could be a great one with the right mindset.  With Orlando Brown being a guy who is a right tackle, Kenyon is a prototypical left tackle.  He’s a knee-bender who looks more comfortable in pass protection and is just more of a natural athlete. Word out of camp has been that he’s a young guy who has impressed early on. It wouldn’t shock me to see him step in next fall and be the guy on the left side with Farniok on the right.

—-

Overall, this unit is the deepest I’ve seen us have in recent memory. Coach Bedenbaugh is truly an architect when it comes to building an offensive line. He knows the mindset and the skillset he wants, and he loves those versatile guys on the inside. Alex Dalton and Jonathan Alvarez who can both play guard or center, and guys like Bronson Irwin who play guard yet are athletic enough to slide out and play tackle in a pinch. You see that with Cody Ford in the upcoming class as well as Joseph Paul in last year’s. He (Bedenbaugh) is a savant when it comes to getting it done up front, and I have to say that I’m more excited about the depth and production we could see from this o-line than I’ve ever been before.  There’s a plan and clear vision in place, and I for one hope that Coach B sticks around for years to come.


  • OU ON MY MIND

    Great breakdown as usual,

    Jeez, I didn’t realize how massive our line was this year.

    • Jed

      There are certainly some big boys in that group.

  • outsider

    O-line is the strength of our team this year. From Top to bottom, no other unit is as deep, or talented.

  • EasTex

    Great post, JY, you’re quite the wordsmith.
    About Nila. I watched him his last two years in high school and he was a monster TE. When he wasn’t wiping DTs and LBs out with his blocking, he was making drive sustaining clutch catches. I never thought he would become a guard.
    He really does have a warrior spirit. Many can be trained to be a warrior, but the warrior spirit is as much genetic as it is instilled. He not only has that spirit, but he embraces it. Go back and watch any game where he played and the one lineman for OU that consistently gets down field and helps keep his RB from taking one last shot in a pile is Nila. He looks for someone to hit and takes protecting the QB/RB seriously. Most linemen are mission oriented and stand around after their assignment is complete, but not Nila. I love that about him.
    I notice that about him because that is how I and my fellow linemen in high school played, we had a competition between the right and left side to see who could get the most down field hits before the whistle. Not only was it fun and made us hustle, it also makes the LBs and DBs play with a swivel neck.
    I encourage all TFB readers to watch Nila work down field after his initial block, it is a thing of beauty, especially for old linemen.

  • John Garner

    JY — I really appreciate your pieces on the O-Line. Great insight into the most important unit on the team. I’m glad that media pundits are claiming that we’re over-rated. We’ll go into the season the way we went into the Sugar Bowl: with something to prove. Having a great O-Line and an awesome OL Coach will help to get us into the mix for #8. Thanx again! Hey, one quick question: you explained Slide and Turnback (thanx!), so maybe when your time permits you can chalk us through BOB. Especially those situations where slide and man are mixed.

  • SoonerfanTU

    As I read that, I was starting to feel a little sorry for guys like Savage and Evans, seniors with plenty of talent to start on good teams, but guys that would start the year on the bench for OU this year. Then I remembered all of the oline injuries over the years, and you gotta think at some point, that depth will be needed when a guy goes down for a game, or extended period of time.

    Nice to know that we have some talented, AND experienced guys we can rely upon on that 2nd unit.

    • Ed Cotter

      Savage and Evans are going to see plenty of time in the OL rotation that OU uses. Basically they are two more starters, as they will be playing as much as the starters.

  • Jim

    The O-line depth this year reminds me of ’03 or ’04 when we were 2-deep at each position of the D-line. We had 2 full lines that were all-conference worthy that year. This O-line has the same potential. It’s fantastic.
    If we’re fortunate enough, we’ll be on the good side of a few blowouts where our young guys can get significant experience. Next year will be the flip side to having this much experience on an offensive line, so hopefully Bedenbaugh and Stoops can get these guys worked in a bunch.

    • Birddawg

      When was the last time we had this much depth in the trenches on each side of the ball??
      Seriously, can we just go out and kick the tar out of LA TECH already.
      I want to see our guys whomp butt!

  • Brian

    Don’t forget Josiah St John! He will have another year next year and I bet he holds off Frison, allowing him to redshirt this year. Frison will then have 3 years of holding down the left side…

    • soonerthunder

      I agree with you. I think St John will start next year over Frison myself. Talking to the OLmen they brought up St John to me as the one with world’s of talent over any other of the backups. I guess we’ll see.

  • Cory Reedy

    Nila Kasitati: A grown ass man with grown ass hair. : )

    • Zack

      Ass hair. Lol

      • Cory Reedy

        Ass hair…not ass-hair. LOL

  • Cory Reedy

    Ford, Ross, and Perine are licking their respective chops.

    • hOUligan

      And just think of what Mixon is going to have blocking for him with Frison, Brown and the guys OU is bringing in this recruiting cycle. Coach B getting it done!! with some recruiting assistance from Coach Monty.

  • Cory Reedy

    You can’t speak enough about the coaching changes Stoops made a couple of years ago. Look what it has done for recruiting, depth, and attitude. Coach B and Coach Montgomery are KILLING it. OUr lines are nasty!

    • WilliamJack

      Couldn’t agree more. Jay Boulware on TE’s and Special Teams has made a definite difference as well! Glad all 3 of them came on board and hope they stay a long time.

    • akryan

      I was saying it all last year and I’m glad to see that people are finally recognizing it, I think the most unheralded hire that Stoops made was the nutrionist. I still think that the most underrated reason that both lines are performing so much better is because she came in. It doesn’t matter how well you’re coached or how tough you are, if your body can’t do it then your body can’t do it. She’s put those players in a position where their bodies can do it.

  • Hollerback

    thanks. I don’t recall a OL at OU having this many upperclassman in at least 10 years. Guys getting injured or quiting has been the norm for so long. This line doesn’t have a single converted TE in it either! If Bendenbaugh is a great as you and I think he is, OU will run a ridiculous amour of yards this year.

    • wolfbuilder

      Hate to bring it up but I think once Sam Grant put on some really good weight he might be a really good his JR and SR year and also if I remember right Nila played TE in high school

  • hOUligan

    St. John didn’t get a mention but with his development allowing Farniok to move to the RT and getting Brown and Frison eligible, a big collective Sooner sigh of relief. It all starts up front and it has been a long time since OU has fielded an oline stacked with seniors, size, strength, talent and DEPTH like this. With the current recruiting cycle, the future is finally looking very bright for the oline. Great piece, JY. Can’t wait for the Trench Warfare write-ups you are going to be doing with this line.

  • Shelby is a Patriot

    QBs and RBs gotta feel good with this O line.

  • Jason Vos

    Is Tony Feo really a senior? I thought I read somewhere he was a sophmore last year.

    Hope he has one more year to play, would like to see Feo & Kasitati team up at the guard spot next year.

    • tforce

      Hope/wish we could keep Feo and/or Savage for another year.

  • tforce

    Thoughts on the position groupings.

    OT: The development of a 3rd OT would huge for depth (keeping Wms and Thmpsn rested will make them less prone to injury) and for 2015. St John looked lost in the Spring. Hopefully, either he or Farniok are found.

    C: Darlington is the potential weak link on the line. I’m concerned that he could be pushed around by powerful 0 and 1 (eg, Brown, UT). It wouldn’t surprise me to see Nila at C for that game.

    OG: Depth here is astounding this year. Would love to RS Savage if it is legal (don’t know his eligibility status).

    One thing I disagree with is the premise that more weight = more strength and power.
    That MAY be true if the weight is muscle. One thing more fat brings is greater risk of injury because the player isn’t built to carry that much mass and less stamina. Furthermore, making it to and through holes requires agility and quickness. Fat guys aren’t known for those either.

    • akryan

      About Darlington, you can’t underestimate how much it helps that he wrestled. All linemen should. It teaches so much leverage and plain toughness. The Stoops went to Iowa during the 80’s so they appreciate that; Oklahomans appreciate it for that matter. “I love wrestlers; they are tough and make great football players,” -Mike Stoops

  • Sooner Ray

    Thanks JY, It has been years since I’ve felt this good about our line going into a season. I’ve grown tired of having to worry if just one guy went down. Normally I would worry about next year with all the upper classmen but if these coaches stay on board I think they will rebuild “in a good way”‘

    • pitbull17

      With the way things are going we could be back to “re-loading” instead of rebuilding.

  • Hooknladder

    I love that quote: “No more dancing bears w/ Bedenbaugh!” Ain’t it the truth? You also correctly pointed out he’s been an “architect” in forming that O Line- Good stuff!

  • Jackson1006

    JY, While a fan of his, I’m a bit surprised by Nila winning the starting guard position. In the Sugar Bowl, I thought he didnt stand out as much (compared to Irwin who played out of his mind or even Savage who looked stronger while not too mobile). Maybe its because of our scheme and his ability to get to the second level so well (mobility vs strength)? Your analyses are fantastic btw!

  • Doobie74OU

    The Middle of the offense is going to be SICK! Shead,Kasitati, Savage, Evans, & Darlington. Those guys combined with these powerful backs in this spread scheme. CAN’T WAIT TO UNLEASH THE BEAST!

  • Doobie74OU

    Also shout out to JY for the early 90s Mark Stepnoski reference from the Dallas Cowboys often overlooked and undervalued on those teams but not by us Big Boys right JY!

  • Bob Browning

    I keep waiting for Kasitati to teach the Haka to the whole team and have them perform that at the end of the pre-game workouts. Probably will never happen, but it would be cool to see.

  • jmac45

    1) Don’t remember us ever being this BIG across the OL.
    2) Don’t remember us ever being this BIG in the backup OL.
    3) Don’t remember us ever having this much depth in the OL.
    4) …and not having lost a single one of them to injury before the first game.
    Correct me if I’m wrong.

    I remember Frank Broyles offhandedly making the comment at a coaching school one time that “God is on the side of the team with the two best offensive tackles”. It was kinda funny because it was probably true in his time and probably true today to some extent. JMO :)

    When you can just run the ball down their throats it sure does turn into a guessing game for the defense in a hurry. And as much pre-snap and after snap reading and different options on the same play called, as there is in today’s offenses (especially OU) with the flexibility they have in their players = Smiley Face for me. LOL

  • Ronald Keith

    jy, why is it that the center seems to be the smallest of the o-line guys? does it make any difference or is it just coincidence tha gabe and ty are that much smaller than the other guys