The 2009 squad should see a lot of talent coming back on both sides of the ball, but there will still be a lot of questions at some spots.
After losing all five starters across the offensive line the main question that we will see continuously is most likely to be throughout the 2008 season is: Are the young linemen getting enough reps to be ready in ‘09?
Throughout the first few weeks of practice it looks like those concerns have been alleviated somewhat, as the second team appears to be getting a whole lot of snaps in their sessions.
Trent Williams will obviously be the leader of the unit, but guys like Brian Simmons, Jason Hannan, Stephen Good, Cory Brandon, Ben Habern, and Alex Williams, and a few others are all getting extended looks, and will figure to contribute heavily this fall.
OU OL coach James Patton feels that having a veteran offensive line presence gives the younger players something to strive towards for their own careers.
"The younger guys look up to the older guys. The guys that have had experience and been in big games and played in big environments," Coach Patton explained.
Coach Patton also admitted that the young linemen are not only getting solid reps, but they are doing what it takes off of the field to be prepared as well.
"In the meeting room everyday we sit in there and watch tape. Those guys are seeing what they do on tape. The young players by watching themselves and what they do on film."
"In the meeting rooms the guys are communicating. The older guys are telling them ‘hey look at this step, or look at that step'. It just reinforces what you tell them as a coach."
"He has not done a whole lot, but he is very athletic," Patton said of Jones' skills. "He has got a great punch and great size. He is going to learn the system and learn the program. If he has great work ethic and he keeps great focus, then he could develop in to a great player."
SI's Projected 2009 OL Starters
Trent Williams (Tackle)- Williams is an extremely talented guy that is already pushing hard for a starting job. He plays with a mean streak that simply makes him a fun one to watch.
Stephen Good (Guard)- Good has come along solidly in the development process. Eventually he will most likely end up at tackle, but he will probably be starting at guard next year.
Jason Hannan (Center)- I am giving the slight nod to Hannan over Ben Habern, but Habern is coming on. It seems like the center position is Hannan's to lose at this point.
Brian Simmons (Guard)- Big No. 74 is growing on me. He looks to be working hard to get himself to be as ready as possible. We will see much more of him this fall. He will have leadership and experience on his side.
Alex Williams (Tackle)- Jones could be special, but Williams has to have the edge. He looked rock solid in the spring game. I have not seen as much of him this fall, but he has the skills to be a natural tackle.
Cory Brandon- Look for Cory to factor in the mix for a starting spot. He was already impressing before going down with an injury last year. He has game experience and can play anywhere.