Hey TFB’ers! I hope you all are as excited about the spring game as I am. I’m very excited to see if the stadium gets packed out like I’ve always hoped it would. I have to admit I’ve had some program envy in the last few years. what I mean is that I could never understand how schools without the tradition the Sooners have could put twice as many people in the stands as what Oklahoma could.
What I do know is that I’m very intrigued to see what Coach Bedenbaugh is doing with the O Line. What most fans, and even players don’t realize, is that the coaches look to the spring to give them a framework heading into fall camp. I was always told that if you want the job, you need to TAKE the job. A couple of years back, Orlando Brown, came into a fall camp where most people assumed that Derek Farniok or Josiah St. John would step up and earn the starting nod, but Big O just TOOK it and never looked back.
In a nutshell, that’s what Bedenbaugh does. He gets guys on campus and lets it be known that the 5 guys he can depend on the most are going to start and play. He stacks the deck in his favor by recruiting very versatile players. That same year that Orlando took the starting job at Left Tackle, Dru Samia gets done going to his high school prom, and then about 5 or 6 months later, is the starting Right Tackle for the University of Oklahoma.
That transparency and honesty for most players is what they crave. I’ve been around coaches who made recruiting promises that ended up biting them. You’d hear “well so and so is Coach Whatever’s boy, so he gets more looks”. That stuff actually happens on college campuses. The thing that players love about Bedenbaugh is that they get a fair shot. He is going to put the best offensive line on the field. Let me say that again.
He is going to put the best offensive line on the field.
Notice that I didn’t say that he’s going to put the five most talented guys on the field. Notice also that I didn’t say he’s going to put the five best players on the field. I said that he’s going to put the best offensive line on the field. Why this is relevant is that we’ve heard that Cody Ford is taking a lot of reps at the Right Tackle spot. Cody, like most of the interior players that Bedenbaugh recruits, is very versatile. They’re very athletic, and there are a lot of guys who like Cody, are 6’4″, 6’5″ and powerful. What that does is that it allows Bedenbaugh to have as few moving parts as possible, and get the guys he can depend on the most in the game.
Three guys in my mind who are cemented starters are Bobby Evans, Ben Powers & Dru Samia.
1. Dru Samia is going to be a 4 year starter. Good luck unseating him.
2. Ben Powers & Bobby Evans are getting ready to be 3 year starters.
Coach Bedenbaugh knows that he can depend on those guys. The other two guys who have a leg up are Jonathan Alvarez and Cody Ford. Jonathan started at guard as a Redshirt Freshman right alongside Orlando & Samia in that Orange Bowl against Clemson a few years ago. And I’ve said it time and time and time again, coaches look to whom they can trust and depend on the most.
Bedenbaugh recruits guys who can do a lot of different things. They need to be smart enough to handle it. They need to be athletic enough to handle it. Look back to the Sugar Bowl in 2014, Bedenbaugh fielded a very veteran group. In Bedlam about a month before that Derek Farniok was thrust into the lineup after Tyrus Thompson got hurt. Oklahoma State gave em fits and the Sooners struggled to get the offense going. Even though they won the game, nobody outside of a few of us at TFB gave the Sooners any kind of a chance in that game. Again, Coach Bedenbaugh was tasked with putting the best offensive line he had on the field. So what he did was
1. Move Daryl Williams from Right Tackle to left Tackle
2. Bring Dionte Savage in to face up with those big Bama d lineman at left guard.
3. Gabe Ikard was a rock for a long time at Center
4. Nila Kasitati stayed put on the right side at guard.
5. Finally Bronson Irwin, who was one of the most dependable guys he had, got his lone start at Right Tackle as a Sooner.
What resulted was a Sooner win for the ages, and notice served that the man knows what he’s doing as an architect.
Really it’s not a shocker to me that we’re hearing about guys moving around and Cody getting a look at Right Tackle. While there’s a lot of talent on campus and a lot of talent coming in, Bedenbaugh is serving notice that if you want the job, you need to TAKE the job. Just because you’re an ESPN all universe, everything etc and so on Under Armor guy, it doesn’t mean you’re going to start as a freshman. And if you were that guy and you’re on campus and somebody moved on to the NFL, it doesn’t mean that you’re just going to slide into that spot either. You have to TAKE that spot.
Finally, it wouldn’t shock me one bit if we saw an O line from left to right with Evans, Powers, Alvarez or Humphrey, Samia and Ford. By doing this, it keeps everyone motivated. It keeps veterans hungry, and it keeps hot shot recruits humble. It sends a message loud and clear that the best unit is going to be put on the field. Are you late to class or miss class? Do you make all of your meetings? Do you get all of your film in? Do you show up on time? Do you play hurt and so on.
At the end of the day, the lineup that comes out of spring ball may not be the one you see in September. Still, if the O Line finishes spring ball really well with the lineup he has in place, it’ll be really tough for someone to come in and unseat whomever is starting. Still, the summer time is a long time to get lazy between now and then. I doubt any of these guys will, but still, there’s some intrigue. The intrigue is what keeps it interesting. Think about how much we’re interested in it, and then think about these guys who may or may not be playing depending on what they do.
TAKE THE JOB!