Q&A: Left guard Gabe Ikard

NORMAN, Okla. — Sooners Illustrated sat down with left guard Gabe Ikard to talk about the upcoming battle in the trenches against the FSU defensive line, his thoughts about the tough environment they're heading into and more in this interview below.

Q-Do you guys talk about some of the recent woes on the road, although you amended them at the end of last season?

A-I mean, of course we talk about it. Actually Dewey Selmon came the other day and talked about, you know, ‘You got to take the Sooner show on the road.' So, I mean, it's just got to be the same way as we play at home. We just got to take our game plans, we got to go execute on the road, just act like the crowd's not there, just communicate and just play our game.

Q-You've played in loud places, the Cotton Bowl is probably as loud as any. Do you plan on any type of signaling for that crowd noise?

A-Yeah, we have--obviously I'm not going to talk about what our plans are--but, I mean, we have stuff to where just like every other team has that where you work where maybe you can't hear at all because we're expecting it to be very, very, very loud, knowing that crowd and, I mean, their recent success. So, it's going to be hard for us to communicate on the offensive line, but we've got ways that we're going to get that done.

Q-Speaking of the crowd, you guys have been simulating it a little bit with the War Chant at practice. Has that been motivating you guys, how has that been?

A-It's been, it's more of just a how it's going to be in the game. I mean, you practice how you're going to play and they're going to be War Chanting all game. It's going to be really, really loud. So, we've had that cranked up all week just getting ready for the energy that that crowd's going to bring to the game.

Q-What are your thoughts on their guys up front?

A-Oh, they're very, very talented, extremely physical when it comes to the run game. And they're very good, very quick off the ball when it comes to pass protection. So, I mean, they're much better and much more organized and you can tell how much more confident they are than they were last year. So, we're prepared to be in a battle. We know that they're some of the elite defensive tackles, defensive ends in the country. So, we're practicing. We're getting ready to face maybe the best guys we'll see all year.

Q-You were able to get them off tempo last year and a lot of it was probably due to the fact that they didn't know exactly what they were doing. That may not be as easy this year, but it could still be an advantage for you running 100 plays a game, right?

A-Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think Charleston Southern ran, I think it was, 49 plays, something like that against them last week. So, I'm sure they'll have a plan for when we change the pace up when we go fast, but it's just kind of hard to simulate in practice. There's nothing like it until you play against it if you're on defense, so they're going to be prepared. They got great coaches, great players, but we're going to have to use our tempo to our advantage like we always do.

Q-You mention that they seem more set with what they're doing, but aren't you guys more set with this being your second year and the rest of the experience on the line?

A-Yeah, I mean, obviously we both improved. I mean, the offensive line's improved since last year. And their defense, you can just watch. I mean, the film doesn't lie. [They're] much more organized, much more sure of what they're doing, and that allows you to play fast when you're sure of what you're doing. Same thing on offense. When you know your assignment, you can play fast. You can play with tempo. So, it's going to be interesting to see how that matchup clashes, but it should be a good one.

Q-Greg Reid came out and said he hopes Landry throws it to Ryan Broyles right off the bat. What have you seen from the chemistry of Landry and Ryan lately to help in that matchup against the FSU secondary and guys like Reid?

A-I mean, Broyles just has an uncanny ability of getting open and catching the football, so I'm sure Greg Reid, I mean, you've got to be confident for your defensive back. I mean, if that's his attitude, that's his attitude. And if that's what ends up happening, we'll see what ends up happening. I mean, he's a good player, great return guy, and I know he's trying to just maybe ruffle some feathers over here, but, I mean, Ryan's not a guy that's going to talk any smack back. He's just going to go out there and play his game, let his game do his talking.

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