This spring the Sooners only have only seven healthy scholarship offensive linemen now that Jesse White looks all but done for his career because of a bad back.
Redshirt freshman Ben Barresi has been banged up as well, leaving Branndon Braxton and Chris Messner at tackle, Duke Robinson and Sherrone Moore at guard and Chad Roark and Cameron Schacht at center. Throw in offensive line newcomer Brian Simmons at offensive guard and tight end Brody Eldridge every once in a while at offensive tackle, and there you have OU's offensive line this spring.
What the Sooners lack in depth in the offensive line they make up in quality, as the OU's offensive coaches and Bob Stoops have said repeatedly that they have good talent along with the offensive front.
Robinson is one of those talents that the coaches are very high on and his work in the offseason has made him a much better player. Duke had dropped over 30 pounds for the spring, and following Wednesday's pracitce he Robinson he talked with OUInsider.com.
JH: Duke, you lost so much weight that I didn't recognize you in a picture that The Oklahoman ran. If it wasn't for the braids in your hair I am not sure I would have recognized you. Talk about what you have gone through to get into this kind of great condition?
DR: "I just went through the Smitty workout (smiling). For real, I went through a real hard summer when I first got here. It was hard and I had to stay focused, me and a couple of other guys. Then I went through a long, hard winter and now spring."
JH: You obviously don't eat like you used to, so how much have you changed your diet? I would guess you don't get pizza at 11:00 p.m.?
DR: "No, no pizza's at 11:00. I went on basically a nutritious diet. I had to eat nutritious things like nuts and oats so while I was losing weight I still had energy. It was pretty hard, because I was so used to eating a lot. Being from the South, I would eat at 11:00 at night. I would eat a bunch of collard greens and ham and some great food. So, I had to get used to not eating as much. I worked with Smitty and Coach Scott (Kolok) and we worked it out pretty good."
JH: How difficult was it to change your diet?
DR: "I have literally gone into a cold sweat at home late at night because I wouldn't eat as much before I got with Smitty and the rest of the coaches. Not only did I have to do that during the season and the offseason, I had to do that by myself. I had to control that myself, especially during breaks. I watched what I ate and I still worked out so I was very dedicated to it. It has worked out pretty good."
JH: That is basically a change in lifestyle isn't it?
DR: "Yes, to a certain extent it is a change in lifestyle."
JH: What were some of the things that you really enjoyed eating before your diet?
DR: "Cheeseburgers and potato chips, especially those hot fries. I had to give up Rice Crispy Treats too."
JH: What do you eat now that you thought you would never be eating?
DR: "I hate those cereal bars or breakfast bars. I hate those, but I have to eat them in the morning. I have to keep my metabolism going, so I choke them down."
JH: Has it changed how you play the game at all? Have you had to make any kind of major adjustments on the field?
DR: "I am a little quicker and I am more alert. I am steadier in my stance and I am in a more balanced position when I run. I don't come in last any more in the gasers, so my game has changed a whole lot."
JH: So you can feel that you are a different player?
DR: "Yeah, because I lost weight I lost a little bit of my strength. So, I am even working back harder in the weight room to gain my strength back."
JH: I know when you came into Oklahoma you were posting some serious numbers in the weight room, so with the weight loss where are you now."
DR: "I am still about the same on the bench at around 370. It is really between 355 and 370. It just depends on what kind of day that I am having. My squat went way down something like 40 pounds. Those are basically the two main things — my squat and my bench."
JH: Do you feel quicker out here?
DR: "I feel a whole lot quicker. I am so quick that it doesn't even feel like I am quick until I see it on film how fast I move off the ball. When I move it still feels like I am not moving fast, but when I see myself get to that backer and I am pulling out of the hole, I know that I am moving."
JH: Don't feel you will be a better player in the fourth quarter as well?
DR: "We just had tight zone drills and we went through pass rush drills before, so we had 30 to 40 snaps in the tight zone and I think I did pretty well. I wasn't bending over and all or tired, I just kept playing hard."
JH: When you signed with OU everybody thought you would be a tackle, and even this spring there was talk that you would work at both positions. But so far you have just worked at guard. Do you now think you are just a guard?
DR: "At first I thought I was going to be a tackle. I wanted to be a tackle, personally, but I talked to Coach (Kevin) Wilson and the other coaches and they felt I would be real good at guard. I am so aggressive on the outside and he said being at tackle you had to be more of a finesse blocker. You had to be patient and wait on the defender to get on you. I am so aggressive so they moved me to the inside and that has worked out pretty well."
JH: Is that where you want to play now? Do you consider yourself an offensive guard now?
DR: "The way it looks now that is where I am going to play. It really doesn't matter. Wherever they want me to play, that is where I will play."
JH: What about your competition on the offensive line? Are you worried about it?
DR: "My position is on lock. You don't have to worry about my position, whether it is guard or tackle because I am going to hold mine down. Hopefully, the other guys will come through so that we can get a good starting five and get a good second five."
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