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OU football: Despite suspensions to receivers, the Sooners can persevere

Newcomers and players returning from injury should keep Oklahoma on even-keel in 2012.
BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Published: May 13, 2012

Oklahoma's depth at wide receiver took a hit last week when coach Bob Stoops indefinitely suspended Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson.

Even if the trio is suspended much of the season the Sooners have some talented receivers. Kenny Stills is the veteran. The concern is they might have to rely on several incoming freshmen, led by Trey Metoyer, who dazzled this spring.

OU's running game could relieve some pressure off the passing game, especially early in the season when young receivers are learning on the job.

A stat that flew under the radar last season was the Sooners averaged 4.5 yards per carry. OU ranked 38th nationally, a noticeable improvement from the previous year when OU ran for 3.3 yards per carry, lowest in the Bob Stoops era.

Junior guard/center Gabe Ikard said more progress was made this spring.

“We were pretty pleased,” Ikard said. “We put some good things together, but we're nowhere where we're going to be, where we need to be this fall. But we built a good foundation going into summer. We're pretty excited where we're at.”

Led by a veteran offensive line that's combined for 102 career starts, the Sooners won't be a classic ground-and-pound offense but it will be an offense that might be one of the most balanced in the country.

“We have a lot of guys who have been in the fray, seen different looks,” said offensive line coach James Patton. “They should have a very good understanding of our concepts.”

OU has experience and depth on the O-line.

Center Ben Habern will be a fourth-year starter. Ikard and right guard will be third-year starters. Some believe sophomore Adam Shead, who started five games, might be OU's best blocker. But he might not be in the starting lineup if Habern returns to center and Ikard moves back to left guard.

At tackle, Lane Johnson started at right tackle last season, but Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson were the starting tackles in the spring game. There's future depth with mammoth redshirt freshman Derek Farniok.

“We need eight or nine guys,” said quarterback Landry Jones. “We played quite a few of them (all spring), rotated some guards in and out. When Ben comes back, we'll have two centers to keep fresh bodies in there. It's nice to have type of depth.”

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