Breaking down the offensive line

James Hale takes a look at how OU's offensive line is shaping up after the first week of practice. Sophomore Duke Robinson (pictured) is expected to be a major player on the line in 2006 playing both guard and tackle. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

There have been a number of questions and concerns about the OU offensive line the last couple of days, so I thought I would try to answer a few of them.

First, as of today the starting unit would be:
LT: Chris Messner
LG: Duke Robinson
OC: Jon Cooper
RG: Brandon Walker
RG: Branndon Braxton

The second unit would be:
LT: Duke Robinson/Cory Brandon
LG: Sherrone Moore
OC: Chase Beeler
RG: Curtis Bailey
RT: Duke Robinson/Trent Williams

Offensive linecoach James Patton and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson have both stated that the first team o-line is doing a good job, and that they have proven they have chance to be a good one. Obviously, the thinking is that it will be better midway though the season than early, but the coaches feel because of the long training camp that they will be pretty good early.
If there is a concern, it is the depth. It is not the fact that they don't have talent in the depth, it is just at the moment they don't have any experience with their depth. Outside of Moore, every one of those players listed on the second unit are freshmen, at least Ben Barresi and Brian Simmons can return from injuries, and even then they are a redshirt freshmen who have not played a down with the varsity.
However, there is talent on the offense and the coaches feel Robinson, Cooper, Braxton, Walker and Beeler have pro careers in their future.

The plan at the moment is for Robinson to swing out to tackle a couple of times a game or in case of injury, but he needs to work into better condition to do that. He is working on extra conditioning following every practice.

Beeler is the back-up center, but he has the ability to also swing out and play guard. He is not working at guard much, because the coaches are making sure Cooper is totally healthy. The coaches feel they have two very good players in Cooper and Beeler, and you know OU will play their best five players. Maybe this year Beeler is No. 6, but it won't be long before he is starting somewhere on the line.

The line is a work in progress at the moment in that they need to mature and get better at the same time. However, the talent is there for another good line. James Patton has put out a very good line every year that he has coached, and the odds are that he will do it again this season at OU.


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