Spring Review: Offensive linemen and Tight ends

Linemen love Wilson; Line finds depth; Smith becoming a leader and much, much more.

The offensive line went through a major transformation this spring. The Sooners went from being a tentative pass blocking unit to an aggressive run blocking group that seemed to enjoy playing real football again.

"I have had more fun this spring playing for Coach Wilson than anytime last year," said sophomore center Vince Carter. "I am not trying to say anything negative about coach (Mark) Mangino because he was a great coach. However, he believed in different things and we never really got to turn it loose under him. Coach Wilson has been a breath of fresh air. He has us firing off the ball and trying to drive people down field. It's been fun. We still have a lot of work to do, but at least we have a positive identity again."

For the most part Coach Wilson went with Wes Sims at left tackle, Kelvin Chaisson at left guard, Carter at center, Mike Skinner at right guard, and Jammal Brown and Chike Ozumba at right tackle.

Brown started the spring as the starter at right tackle, but the coaches felt he wimped out of a practice, claiming that he had a sore foot. Thus, Ozumba became the starting right tackle for the second half of spring.

It's one thing to be injured, but quite another with the Sooner coaches when they really don't believe they are injured and the trainers are saying you can practice.

The hope is that Brown learned his lesson and realizes to play he has to pay the price. The last week of practice was Brown's best, but he was never given his starting spot back. The OU coaches are making him sweat, but he will be the starter next season.

However, the question is where. Coach Wilson wanted to keep things simple in the spring, so he kept every player at the same position except for Ozumba and Brad Davis, who played guard and center. The intensity will be turned up a notch in double sessions and the best five will play, regardless of where they played in the spring.

"I totally worked on attitude this spring and that was my main concern," said Wilson. "I didn't want to bog down their minds with assignments and position changes. I wanted them locked in at one position, using zone blocking and just thinking about nothing but coming off the ball and trying to knock somebody's head off.Ó

ÒI wanted them to be physical and have fun playing football,Ó Wilson continued. ÒSo we kept everybody at one position for the most part and told them to learn everything they can learn about that position. This summer, I am going to think everything through and come up with my five best players. Then, once I determine who they are I will figure out at what positions to play my five best players."

"Those positions may be different than in the spring, but that will be OK with me because they will be our best players," Wilson said. "When two-a-days start we will start putting in more of our blocking schemes up front and things will get more complicated, but they will be ready for it, and in fact, they will be itching to grow and learn more about what we do."

The good thing about the spring is that the Sooners appear to be two deep in the offensive line, something they haven't been able to say since Stoops and company arrived.

Jerod Fields had an excellent spring and will probably become the third tackle as Ozumba moves back to guard.

Chris Bush is still learning the fundamentals of an offensive lineman, but is making giant strides. He loves to block and his enthusiasm is a plus among the offensive line. Davis will back Carter at center with Brett Rayl working as the fourth tackle.

The offensive line is deep enough with quality players that the coaches feel they can redshirt their entire freshman class of offensive linemen.

Tight Ends
Tight end may be the strongest position on the team. All-American candidate Trent Smith became a leader this spring and was outstanding throughout. He dropped one pass this spring and that was in the Red/White game. He caught a thousand passes and most of the time in traffic.

The battle is for the number two tight end spot and it is wide open going into the summer.

Lance Donley is a solid tight end, but he is being pursued by two redshirt freshmen who have special written all over them.

James 'Bubba' Moses is an excellent pass receiver, while Chris Chester is a better blocker. Both came closer to becoming complete players and both are good enough to be impact players. Donley will have hustle to hold both of them off this year.

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