Camp Battle: Guard

Deep offensive line leads to plethora of talent in the trenches

As fall camp winds down for Oklahoma, there are still a few battles left to be decided. During the next few days, Sooners Illustrated will bring you the six key positions that are still up for grabs. We will break down each candidate for the position, present the evidence and make our best courtroom-like case the player. At the end, Justin will rule on which player is to be deemed the starter.

It’s time for opening statements.

Offensive guards

Tyler Evans vs. Nila Kasitati vs. Dionte Savage vs. Adam Shead

Evans background: In his now six year career, Evans has made 29 starters and played in 36 games. He hasn’t played since 2011, when he started 13 games at right guard. He averaged a knockdown every ten plays during that season.

Case for Evans: If Evans returns to his pre-injury self, when he started 29 games in his first three years, the Oklahoma offense would be even greater. He played immediately as a freshman and didn’t take his redshirt until his senior year. He knows this offense, and he’s as nasty as they come on the offensive line – and that’s a good things.

Kasitati background: After playing in 13 games and making seven starts last season, Kasitati is another guy in the mix on the interior offensive line. He played as a redshirt freshman but had his season cut short because of injury.

Case for Kasitati: Kasitati has looked strong in camp and is ready for a full season as the starter. He’s an agile offensive lineman, and he could be the best option for Oklahoma on trap plays – pulling across the line to open a hole.

Savage background: Savage jumped right in last year after transferring and played in 12 games. He was a NJCAA All-American, and his skills have adapted to the next level. He finally earned a start at left guard in the Sugar Bowl.

Case for Savage: The most basic argument is that Savage has been working at left guard with the first team while also rotating in at right guard with the 1s. He’s a powerful run blocker and is a veteran on a loaded offensive line.

Shead background: Shead has started 28 games in his career, which has been marred by injury. He missed three games last year because of a leg injury and had back surgery which caused him to miss the spring game. But he started all 13 games at left guard two years ago and has played four straight years since redshirting as a freshman.

Case for Shead: When healthy, Shead is a mauler. He’s 6-foot-4 and 339 pounds, and right now, he’s healthy, which showed be scary for defensive linemen and linebackers. He knows the team, now in his fifth year with the team. He’s a perfect fit to retake his position.

Hite’s verdict: Well, there are plenty of options here. All have some form of injury in their pasts, but it seems like all four are ready to play this year. There’s no doubt that all will see extensive action, as Oklahoma looks to roll it offensive linemen and keep them fresh. As for a starter, that’s an honor in name only. They get only the first snap of every game, but maybe not the most snaps. Right now, a decision has to be made. Oklahoma’s Game 1 starting left guard is Dionte Savage. Oklahoma’s Game 1 starting right guard is Adam Shead.

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