No Complacency on the O-Line

Oklahoma's offensive line figures to be even better last year considering all its starters are back. That doesn't mean there is complacency with the big guys in the trenches. Branndon Braxton and Jon Cooper talked to Sooners Illustrated about what they did in the offseason to get better and how the spring is going so far.

Just because Oklahoma's entire offensive line returns, it doesn't mean there's complacency with the big men up front.

If anything this spring, it's the exact opposite.

"It's 100 percent on every play from every player," center Jon Cooper said on Monday. "If you're not going 100 percent then you're going to get exposed."

And possibly benched.

"We know we have capable people that have been there for a year or two years or three years that are capable of playing on the field," Cooper said. "We know if we mess up, we've got someone that can come in behind and maybe go out there and take a spot.

Added Branndon Braxton: "There's competition everywhere. It's a good part of our team that's just going to make us better. Competiting everyday, that dude trying to get that job and everyone trying to get their job - I think it's just going to make us a better team."

"There are guys that want to get out there and play. They're tired of waiting around," Cooper said.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons several of the linemen – such as Duke Robinson, Braxton, Phil Loadholt and Trent Williams – lost weight in the offseason.

Braxton weighed about 330 pounds when the Sooners played West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Right now he's at 300.

It's about being more physical, but that doesn't necessarily mean bigger.

"A lot of guys on the offensive line, including myself, lost a lot of weight because they want us to move better and things like that," Braxton said.

The difference has been evident early in the spring.

"Everybody's saying how good they feel and they could tell the difference, so I think that's good for us in preparation for finishing the blocks and running and being in shape," Braxton said. "I think that's playing a big role."

Losing the weight was about setting weekly goals and competing with each other to reach them.

"We had off-season groups," Braxton said. "Every week had a goal if you didn't make that goal by Friday, didn't get to leave. It did good for us and everyone looked good. Nobody's complaining out there."

The linemen have been working hard on their conditioning, but have also changed their eating habits.

"That's the main thing," Braxton said. "We had a guy to come in and help us with the body fat, not eating late and stuff like that. Just eating smarter. It's small things but we're big guys. Whatever we see first when we come out of practice, that's what we're going to eat."

Don't count Cooper among those trying to drop weight. He's been attempting to pack on the pounds since he walked on campus. He can only shake his head when hearing a teammate lost 30 pounds and is still above 300.

"I'm always trying to gain weight," he said. "I'll take some (of what the other linemen lost). I got up to around 295. I'm at 292 right now, so I'm getting there. But they all look good. They've done a great job."

Being in better shape will be imperative if the Sooners end up sticking with the no-huddle offense, which is being tinkered with this spring.

"We feel we're in pretty good shape. You get out there every minute of every period of every practice and, yeah, it wears on you, but we're in pretty good shape and I feel we're doing pretty good with it so far," Cooper said.

Spring is always an important part of the football season, especially for linemen, even a veteran group like the Sooners. But this spring, with the addition of the no-huddle, it's imperative.

"That's what the spring is for, to be cohesive when we're doing some of this new stuff with our offense that we feel is going to be great," Cooper said. "So we need to come together and kind of bond even more than we have. We've been together for three years for some of us and we feel we have some cohesiveness, but spring's just a great time to get even more."

Skinnier. Good.

In better shape. Good.

Cohesive. Good.

Complacent. Bad.

That's basically the spring for the offensive line and it's made for an intense five practices so far.

"It's intense," Cooper said. "Everybody's good. Nobody wants to get blocked and nobody wants to get beat so everyone is fighting and competing really hard."

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