During the next two weeks, Sooners Illustrated will look back on the 2015 Oklahoma football season: Evaluating each possession group, recapping key moments, reliving the biggest surprises and assigning an overall grade for the year.
We’ll start with quarterback play and end with the kicking game.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE
Summary: The interior offensive line came in to the 2015 season as the bastion of experience. The Sooners were replacing three starters from one of last year’s best units nationwide but had seniors Ty Darlington and Nila Kasitati returning. Oklahoma stumbled out of the gate, struggling to run the football with any kind of consistency. It came to a head against Texas, when the Sooners rushed for only 67 yards in a loss. Then things came to life as the running game asserted itself for the rest of the season, and guard Jonathan Alvarez grew up to give Oklahoma reason to believe that its next center could be a star.
Best player: Alvarez really shined this season in his first year as a starter. He was far more consistent than Darlington and Kasitati. Alvarez stepped in at center when Darlington missed the victory against Tulsa and proved capable there. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said that Alvarez will move inside to center permanently starting next year.
Biggest surprise: When Darlington and Kasitati were missing because of injuries, Oklahoma senior Derek Farniok stepped up. Well, he more stepped inside. A career offensive tackle at Oklahoma, the giant Farniok moved inside to play guard and started three games. It was his most significant contribution in a Sooners’ uniform.
Best moment: Darlington proved himself as a prototypical leader this season. He helped lead Oklahoma in the spring during the SAE scandal and helped revitalize the team after a loss to Texas. His play wasn’t always great, but he did things off the field and with his voice that helped Oklahoma immensely this season. Darlington led a group of captains that helped the Sooners to this year’s turnaround and gave an example to the next generation of leaders.
Biggest weakness: The biggest problem for the interior offensive line was a general lack of nastiness. Last year, Oklahoma’s line had that toughness about them: The willingness and desire to win one-on-one blocks. They didn’t have that this season, and it centered on the interior line, which had some major struggles and blown assignments throughout the season. In the middle of the trenches, success is almost as much about talent as desire. Oklahoma didn’t get the job done as well as it has in the past. That’ll be the main focus for turnaround next year.
Final grade: B-