Offensive Line Notes From The Red/White Game

Image via @OU_Football

Hey everyone, I hope you’re all having a good week.   Thanks to HolaKyle, I’ve been able to get caught up on the spring game. K and the boys wanted me to focus my attention on the trenches, so I’ll have some notes on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Right off the bat, I noticed a few guys have made some good progress during the offseason. Kyle Marrs looked really solid running with the second team.  On Daniel Brooks’ long run to the left side during the first quarter, Kyle made a text book cutoff block up on the linebacker that ultimately sprung Brooks for the big gain.

(Ed. note – Marrs is at right guard, No. 78)

I was a fan of Kyle during his recruiting, and while a lot of people were (maybe even still are) down on him, in my opinion he’s right on schedule. He’s in his 3rd year, and in a healthy program, you don’t want true freshmen or even redshirt freshmen starting and/or playing a lot. There are exceptions to that of course, but for the most part if a guy is playing a lot in his first or second year then one of two things is happening.

1. The guy is a special talent and just that good.

2. You don’t have enough depth and/or someone got hurt, so the guy has to play.

I always thought that he was going to be a guy who needed to develop a bit, but could be a two year starter and maybe get playing time as a redshirt sophomore, which is where he’s at now. People think because a guy is going to OU that he should be a world beater from day one. Offensive line is a lot more about attitude than it is aptitude, and while some guys develop quicker than others, you need people who are willing to come in and earn their spot.  Ultimately, the product that you put on the field has to be consistent and right now Bill Bedenbaugh is still building that. You obviously want your offensive line to be really good across the board, so you have to be less concerned with what year a guy is and more concerned about keeping the stockpile going to be able to consistently reload.

Anyway, another guy I looked at was Dionte Savage. He’s a guy I just can’t help but root for out there. He seems to have a great personality, and man is he huge. In looking at how his body has changed since last summer, he has leaned up quite a bit yet also retained his size (he’s listed as 335 lbs). Maybe it was a little bit of going against your teammate, but I still need to see Dionte finish a little bit more. There were a couple of blocks I’d like to see him drive his legs on, and use his whole body. He’s a guy who, if he’s willing to be nasty all the time, he’ll be in the league for a while.

Josiah St. John was another guy I wanted to see. To me, he still doesn’t have the finer points down just yet. His hand and head placement (i.e getting your head across) leaves a little to be desired, and right now he’s just not ready to be the 3rd or 4th tackle, in my opinion. So this fall, Tyrus Thompson and Daryl  Williams will obviously be your starters, and I expect Derek Farniok to be at the 3rd spot. One of those big freshmen may even come in and challenge as well.

One guy who has come along quite a bit in my opinion is Christian Daimler. He was always a lean guy and at 6’7″, he just looks thin. He’s up to 286 pounds now so as he grows and matures, he’s going to be a guy who could turn into a late bloomer. Kind of like a Lane Johnson, but that would be a lot work from now. Sam Grant has moved over to tackle, from tight end, full-time now and is another 6’7″ guy. He’s listed at 273 pounds right now, but is a part of Bedenbaugh filling the cupboard with some depth. They aren’t ready this year and probably are at least another year away from being able to come in and do what we need them to do. So going along with my thought of replenishing the stock, you can see what Coach B is trying to do.

Bring in young, talented guys to push your veterans. Make them feel a little uncomfortable, so they know if they let up their spot isn’t safe. Bring in some developmental guys who as redshirt juniors or seniors could eventually be solid starters. Then you always have a mix of talent and blue-collar guys. It forces your talent to work as hard as your blue-collar guys, so the attitude seeps through the entire line. It also humbles some of these young talented studs who come in and think they may just be handed the job. You heard a little of this when Gabe Ikard and some other veteran players tweeted about guys who are coming in thinking they have it figured out, but need to be ready to work.

So, anyway, there wasn’t a whole lot you could derive from the spring game that will resemble anything close to what the starting lineup will look like come fall. Thompson, Adam Shead, and Tyler Evans were all out, so there are still going to be some battles to determine who will be the man come fall. It may be a blessing in disguise because it allows the young guys to get some reps this spring and raise their level of play. By design, there is pressure in the spring for young guys who aren’t ready. Guys are asked to perform just like normal starters and the bar is set very high. People rise to the occasion or they don’t.  Ultimately, your team gets strengthened from the inside out.

Even though it was just a scrimmage, I was really pleased with how well the offensive line performed as a unit. Both lines were able to move the ball, and you can tell the guys are much better schematically than they were last spring. They know what they need to do, and they get there. Coach B is a great coach and it shows. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do with these young, bruising backs come fall. It’s gonna be fun this year.

  • Steve Johns

    As always, great insight JY!

  • wolfbuilder

    Every day I look forward to the next post

    As for our oline, I really think this is a can play for the championship and will be even better in 2015 but we have one huge problem if u ask me, tackle is a huge weak spot outside. We should be ok this year cause I think Derek Farniok can play on the right and both Williams and Thompson can play on the left. I really hope they go out and find a juco OT they think really get after it and to allow Paul, Frison, and Brown a real chance to grown and lead and then in there redshirt SO year come in and start taking over. This is just IMO

  • Zack

    I hope these guys progress and that some of the young guys get some playing time this year so there’s not a big drop off in experience in the 2015 season. With 7 guys listed as seniors and I know there was question as to whether St. John was actually a senior. Either way 6 is still a lot of guys to lose.

    • SoonerKevin

      With Mayfield being around 6′ he will have to play like Flutie, or Brees, or the Seatle QB. I think he can be a good player no doubt.

  • Ed Cotter

    Another great article JY, thanks.

    I am really excited with the direction our OL is headed and would love to see OU be able to consistently play 9,10 or 11 guys good quality minutes, to keep guys fresh and give the younger guys some great experience. As great as our skill players can be, it takes the big guys up front doing the dirty work for the team to have success.

  • tforce

    Hi JY,

    Despite OU’s losses at the skilled-positions from 2013, I think OU’s greatest potential liability is on the OL. This is because OU’s had such outstanding recruiting at the WR and RB positions.

    With this in mind, I have a couple of specific questions for you:

    OU had really good injury luck on the OL last year with only two proven OT’s and only 2 games lost to injury from them.

    1. At OT, are options better in 2014?
    PART A: Has Farniok progressed to the point that he is a “plus” player at OT, either L or R? Will he be able to hold his own against a competent DE?

    Vs OSU, he had no catastrophic failures but was being pushed back into the QB consistently in pass-pro.

    PART B: Is Marrs progressing fast enough that he’ll push Farniok?

    PART C: I understand that it is an eon away, but for 2015, what is your level of concern for the OT positions with Farniok, Marrs, Daimler, Grant, and St John? Scale of 1-10, with 1 being “burrito’s or chimichanga?” and 10 being “ebola-burrito or E. coli-chimiganga?”.

    2. At the interior positions, it seems OU’ll roll with Kasitati, Darlington, and some combination of Shead, Evans, and Savage.
    PART A: Kasitati and Darlington have been overpowered by DT’s in the past. Is there any info regarding their ability to move OU’s powerful NGs in practice?

    PART B: Shead and Evans progress after injury is not known (at least to me). Any insights?

    Thanks again for not being a total homer. Honesty is appreciated.

    • JY

      Wow. Give me some time on this one since I’m traveling

      • tforce

        Thanks for the information and insight in advance.

    • JY

      First off great question!
      1. I think your options are better at OT just for the fact that you’re a year older everywhere. Staying healthy at both starting spots is important. Farniok hopefully will be a difference maker at OT this year. He played well at times, but he’s a guy who’s a RT for me. Put him there and let him be a battering ram. The young guys that are coming in will hopefully push for PT too.
      B. Marrs is a guard all the way
      C. Farniok will play, Marrs is a guard. Daimler and Grant are at least a year or two away. St. John is a concern.
      2. Both Nila and Ty were very young. They both needed great offseasons, and hopefully they had that. I haven’t heard about how they’re doing in practice.
      B. Haven’t heard a lot about Adam and Evans other than they’re mentally engaged and have committed to get back to form.

      • tforce

        Thanks again. I’m an avid reader.

  • Shifty

    Nila was out too..I consider him a starter over Tyler right now and also consider him the back up center unless somebody else has stepped up

  • Jacob Jones

    Based on Brainiac conversations with recruits and other sources, do you guys have confident expectations of any commitments in the NEAR future?

  • Bennie Owen

    I like the optimism. couldn’t tell if the Defense was really this stout or uif it was teh offense that jsut wasn’t clicking, buut time after time it was defense coming up to make the picks or the sacks or teh ints or the big hits. definitely the D is scary, and for the offense to put up that many points on em….yeah, i’m optimistic as well.

  • Atlantasooner

    I’m so happy JY did a quick review. From my amateur view from the couch, the OLs looked good, much better than in springs past especially 2nd team OL. Prior springs the 2nd team ol was so bad the backup QBs could not do a thing. Very effective considering the list of guys not playing. Marrs, Grant, and Daimler all can be contributors down the line it looks. Still think Coach B will have to consider a high profile juco mid term OT in recruiting.

  • Alexander

    Granted I didn’t focus on the OL as much as other areas, but I thought St. John looked good in his first outing. No OT in college is stopping Striker that I’ve seen. Thought he looked better than Farinok, and can easily be the 3rd OT

    Just finished watching the game today. Don’t know if it’s rust, too much content from the sugar bowl win or what, but was Trevor was clearly the 3rd or 4th best QB on the field. If Mayfield was eligible and continued to play like that it would be very interesting to say the least. Trevor would still start game 1, but the leash would be very short in my opinion. Mayfield will play in the NFL, and have a better career than Bridgewater. Anyone want to bet on that I’d be happy to oblige

    • Shifty

      St John was man handled by Tapper giving him an easy sack…I’ll have to wait until I hear how Mayfield does against our first teamers before I place any bets on him..It’s one thing to go against 2nd and 3rd teamers but another going against our first team with 3 linemen sidelined..I’m not giving up on TK just yet

      • Zack

        Not only that but he was throwing to all new guys. The only 2 he was familiar with from last year were shepherd and Neal both were out. I realize he would have practiced with the new receivers all last year but still it’s a change.

  • Kody K.

    Love the bold statement Mr. Alexander. Mayfield has the intangibles to be something real special. Quick and shifty runner on the move and has an uncanny ability to know where to drop the rock. Not to mention the positive energy he inculcates in the team. The kid can play! With that said, I’m not ready to make any NFL predictions, although I can’t wait to watch his progression in the coming years.

  • John Garner

    Man this place just keeps getting better. My favorite stop on the internet. Thanks JY!!

    • JY


  • there seems to be a trend that you guys report on players most of us have never heard about
    I completely missed the boat on Brooks..and the two big tackles in this article….

    I guess my point is they’re getting some serious repetitions for backups …future…etc

    the whole map of Oklahoma football has changed drastically and they could be setting a new tone for the future of college football if we can just plug in the pieces

  • hOUligan

    Just wanted to say, thanks JY, for this breakdown. I am always watching the lines and looking for this type of info so really appreciated. With only 19 comments didn’t want you to think it wasn’t or went unnoticed. Disappointed St. John hasn’t made a move as OT after Williams and Thompson is a disaster waiting to happen. OG is looking well staffed, though.