OL Sugar Bowl Thoughts #4 – Offensive Line Shuffle

Image from Soonersports.com

A number of media outlets have reported that Oklahoma might be moving some people around on the offensive line in order to deal with the loss of Tyrus Thompson and Adam Shead. These reports are supported by some things we heard last week. While this is all pure speculation on my part, if we were to move the guys around, here’s how I think we’d do it.  I’d start off by moving Daryl Williams over to the left side tackle spot.  He’s played a ton for us and played very well, so amongst healthy tackles, I think that Daryl is probably the best bet there.  I also think he’s the most athletic guy you have available to handle playing on the left side.  If you think back to last year, before camp broke, word on the street was that Daryl would be playing on the left and Lane Johnson would be playing on the right, so the concept isn’t a foreign one.  Also the difference between left and right isn’t that much.

Adam Shead was your starter at left guard before he got hurt, since then Bronson Irwin moved over from the right to the left and Nila Kasitati came in at right guard.  Having Bronson on the left payed big dividends since Derek Farniok was in his first start in Stillwater, and having Nila on the right sandwiched between Daryl and Gabe definitely helped if he had any questions.  But back to the left guard spot, I think we can put Dionte Savage there.  From what we gathered during fall camp, and one of the reasons you want to add OLinemen at semester instead of in the fall, is that both Dionte, and Josiah St. John were having a hard time picking up the offense.  With the additional time that the bowl practices have lent, I think that a shuffle may indeed be in order.

By getting Dionte ready, you can slide Bronson out to the right tackle spot, and as you break it down, it really makes more sense than you might think.  Move Daryl to left, it’s not that different.  Dionte’s played left guard all year, so it’s not a move for him.  Ikard at Center, Nila at Right Guard where he’s played all year, and really the only moves you actually make is Daryl to left tackle from right, and Bronson, who’s a fifth year senior, sliding out to play the right tackle spot.  All of this hinges of course on whether or not Savage is ready to take over that left guard spot.  If he is, it could give us a lot more horsepower inside and then it comes down to who your best five are.

Even though I thought Derek Farniok showed promise against Oklahoma State, Alabama may present some match-up problems that he may not be ready for. There’s nothing wrong with that. As I’ve said over and over, OLinemen often take time to develop.  By going with Daryl, Dionte, Gabe, Nila and Bronson, that gives you a veteran edge presence on both sides.  If Dionte is indeed ready, man that would help us a ton with getting movement in the middle, something that is a necessity on the dive play if we’re going to give them a steady diet of the zone read.  You can cover Bronson up with Aaron Ripkowski at the tight end spot and the more you look at it, the more it actually makes sense.

The more the smoke clears, you can tell that Bob and Mike are pulling out all the stops for this game.  Possible o-line movement, Mike cooking up stuff on the defensive side, coupling all that with the general sense you get about how guys are approaching this game, and you can’t help but be optimistic.

In years past, we’ve lost some games we probably shouldn’t have and played pretty uninspired at times, but this doesn’t feel that way.  Our guys are going to be ready. And if our guys come out with razor sharp execution against a possibly uninspired Bama team, is the difference between the two all that much?

  • Jordan Esco

    If memory serves, I believe Williams’ preference has been to play on the right side even though the coaches (and NFL scouts) think he’s more than capable of playing on the left — where he’d make A LOT more money in the league.

    Savage is a freaking monster and I’ve been disappointed he didn’t play more this year. As JY said, hopefully he’s ready b/c lord knows he has the size and strength to make a difference on the inside.

    Irwin has been invaluable this year, moving all over the line. He’s gonna be missed next year.

    • godman

      What is Savage’s size, btw? Thanks

      • Jordan Esco

        He’s listed at 6’5″ 339 lbs

        • L’carpetron Dookmarriot

          Lordy. Bama can’t say OU isn’t big on the O line.

          • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

            If we can run the ball on them, anything’s possible.

      • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

        Cab-over Kenworth ;)

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      It serves you correct my friend. Sometimes depending if you’re left or right handed will often have an influence on which side you feel most comfortable. I’m a lefty, and naturally felt more comfortable on the left. As you get older though, it’s something you can grow out of.

  • Rob Stover

    My only real concern, although I think this is the best move, is that Savage will struggle some with pass protection; most notably with blitz assignments and maintaining his base during pass protection. I have no doubt he can give us an advantage in the run game but I noticed he struggles with keeping his feet moving during pass pro.

    • Jordan Esco

      I think that’s a legit concern and probably a reason he hasn’t played more this year. Can only hope all those bowl practices have got him to the point where he/it won’t be a liability. Hard for me to believe they’d be making this move if that were indeed the case, fwiw.

      • Rob Stover

        Yes, agreed. I am more faith that he knows the communication and blitz assignments. Just tough when your first starting action is against Bama. I guess one saving grace is they aren’t a blitz-heavy defense. Still need to win the one-on-one battles though

        • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

          Fun part about a zone read/veer style offense is that there are a lot of double teams inside. Savage has major league horsepower, and you can’t help but hope that he’s embracing this opportunity, it if is coming about.

          • Rob Stover

            Yeah, I am picturing a similar offensive gameplan to the one we ran against ND. Trevor had a ton of running success for that brief series he was in. Ikard got a ton of help from the guards on the NG which thinking about Savage crashing down on an inside gap is exciting

          • blaster1371

            Does Bama run a three man front or are they like OU, three d-lineman and a olb on the line?

          • Jordan Esco

            Saban has traditionally run a three-man front, but he’ll mix it up just like Mike & Bob do.

          • Super K

            Yeah been running a lot more even fronts as of late

      • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

        Well said sir.

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      The good news is that you’re going to be playing an odd front, so most of the time he won’t be one on one. He’ll be helping with a nose or picking up a blitzer or a twist into his gap. You can manipulate protection to help guys out. Bedenbaugh and Heupel must feel pretty good about what he can do, or they wouldn’t get him in the toughest matchup we will have had in a while.

  • connie usa

    From what I’ve seen, Farniok doesn’t seem to have the quickest feet. He better be drinking some “Red Bull” (my, to give him some wings reference), or I think Bama will be blitzing all night long on his side.

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      If we do shuffle it like we’ve heard, I bet we still see Derek in some short yardage situations as an extra tight end. He’s a force downblocking.

  • blaster1371

    Makes a lot of sense to have the experienced players at OT. While Farniok shows promise I was thinking Alabama would just flood his side with rushers. Alabama has a thin and shaky secondary. I believe Bama will try to protect them with pressure on the OU QB as well as increase the chances of getting a turnover.

    On a side note: I know Darlington played in the first few games. Is there a chance he is getting some kind of redshirt, medical or otherwise?

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      I think that Darlington only played in one game this year against ULM. I wish they could have redshirted him. Not sure if they can get a medical, but normally you have to wait until the end of the career and petition for a hardship.

      • Jordan Esco

        I think he’ll still qualify for it under the participation %

    • JD

      He’s listed in the tech participation report and if true then he can’t get the medical because it was too late in the season

  • Sooner Ray

    I was a TB and DB so I can’t break down lineman, I just hope whatever they do creates a seam and gives the QB a good look to make a decision without too much hesitation.

  • Billy Jackson

    The best part about this……Bama’s been studying film of the line OU’s used for the previous 12 games and studying their tendencies. Mixing positions could make it a bit tougher for the defense to cue off of any weaknesses they saw reviewing video of earlier games.

    Of course, moving guys around is risky for OU, but that’s why the coaches are making the big bucks and I’m not. They know what they’re doing, and I’m good with that.

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      Im just ready for it to get here!

  • ohiosoonerdevildog

    Would it make more sense with the oline we have for the future ( bigger, stronger guys) to stay with a zone read offense? Or move to more of a pro-style and use more of a downhill power attack? And base our passing game off of play action and roll outs from the i-formation?

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      You can run either. Running the ball is a lot abount mentality. I’m with you on the play action out of big sets though.

      • ohiosoonerdevildog

        And I may be totally off here. But isnt the zone read made for smaller shiftier backs that can spot a hole, cut and go? And other than Finch we dont have one of those.

        • JD

          I’d love to see Thomas running some I formation with the big boys being led by Rip or Flowers..I know he ran the spread in hs but with the shift in our line development and the big bruiser types I’d love to see some old fashion clock control football..throw in some PA and hit Andrews deep or Shep in the flat or across the middle…04 offense all over again

          • ohiosoonerdevildog

            Please dont play with my emotions like that.

          • JD

            my bad, we have a shifty guy named Brooks for the ZR if that settles you down some lol

          • ohiosoonerdevildog

            Im good. I like the bruiser types.

          • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

            Perine/Ford on the dive with Ross on the pitch…whoa mama!

          • ohiosoonerdevildog

            I agree. With an average of 6″5′ 330 across the board on the line. Look out.

        • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

          Not necessarily. It’s more of a downhill/vertical type attack than people give it credit for. You can really stress a defense by attacking one or two players. If you get good movement on the double team playside, and get a good block on the linebacker, the dive is virtually unstoppable. Once they have to commit that d-end to stop the dive, then your edge stuff gets going. You can really gash a defense with the zone read if you’re physical up front.
          Now if you take a big back who’s physical along with that, it’s like hitting a defense with a sledgehammer play after play after play. I wish we’d run some triple option off of it too.

          • Sooner Ray

            Hell, let’s blow their mind and come out in the bone with Rip, Clay, and Ford or Finch.

          • Leroy Jenkins

            #FreeFinch

          • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

            Heck yeah! Get Jamielle to come out of retirement and we’re rollin!

          • ohiosoonerdevildog

            Like an Auburn/Malzan type offense?

          • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

            His has a twist off of it as he allows the qb the option to throw out on the edge for what is essentially a long pitch in the triple option.

          • ohiosoonerdevildog

            I like the play K state runs. Where they pull back on the read and hit the wr on the slant. Thats tough to defend.

          • boomersooner

            that play reminds me of that stupid tebow jump pass play..stupid b/c it helped beat us..what a turd, that tebow..haha. both very tough to defend. just like nebraska used to burn us with the step back throw out of triple option

          • ohiosoonerdevildog

            Haha I agree about Teblow. But yeah Id like to see us use something like that. Or even god forbid a te pop pass over the lb.

          • boomersooner

            “Or even god forbid a te pop pass over the lb.” what does this mean?…haha

          • ohiosoonerdevildog

            A tight end pop pass over a linebacker.

          • boomersooner

            no i know.. i was just being silly about the whole no TE position this year. swing and a miss on my part

          • ohiosoonerdevildog

            Haha I gotcha. I just thought maybe I swung and missed on my shortening of the positions. I agree though. A te catching a pass for us is like a Bigfoot sighting. We think we see one once and awhile but we are not quite sure.

          • boomersooner

            haha. i think we’ll all be pleased startin next yr with all the TE type height all over the place

  • SoonerfanTU

    Is it true that Curtis has all but committed to us?

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      I know we’re in good shape, and to get an interior like Curtis, Dalton and Alvarez is big time. Hopefully Natrell will pull the trigger in our favor.

      • SoonerfanTU

        Would a commitment from Curtis eliminate any shot at Sims? Have you guys rated Curtis?

    • JD

      OU Nation ‏@OUnation2h
      Army All American offensive guard
      Natrell Curtis says OU is the only one currently left in the race. Could be committing soon. #fb #Boomer

      • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

        Curtis, Dalton, Alvarez, and then next year with Wariboko and Barnett. Coach B is doing well. He needs to go get Tristan Hill.

        • Sooner Ray

          I like the weight you’re throwing around here!

          • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

            Crap, forgot about Bobby Evans who’s going to be an elite tackle next year as well.

  • Ed Cotter

    Farniok performed well against Okie St, but would love to see Savage in there against Bama. Let’s just line ‘em and start playing. Thursday can not get here soon enough. Oh yeah BTW, Happy New Year!

  • madbrad

    Is anyone else weirded out by there basically being zero smack talk between the fan bases? It could be a respect thing, but I honestly think that their team doesn’t care about this game. Hell, one of their players tweeted out that he’s wondering why they are in the sugar bowl…

    • Jordan Esco

      Can’t speak to the Bama team, but the fans certainly don’t feel OU is a worthy opponent. So I think that’s played a large part in the lack of smack talk.

  • Tank

    I’ve been readint that the coaches who have had some success vs Bama have stuck with what they do best. That they don’t make drastic core changes, any concern that we are focusing on Bama’s strengths more than OUr own?

    It appears that the reason to stick with your strenghts against Bama is that their strength is exploiting your mistakes. When you make wholesale changes you are more prone to make mistakes which plays into their strength that you were trying to avoid from the get go.

  • Buck Irwin

    Irwin is a fourth year senior by the way. Did not redshirt.