NORMAN — Oklahoma's offensive line is suddenly its most inexperienced since the 2009 season, and remember how that turned out?
I'll refresh your memory: In the first half of the first game of the season, on two straight plays, the same BYU linebacker blazed through gaping holes in OU's line and leveled Sam Bradford.
The second time, the returning Heisman Trophy winner suffered a shoulder sprain, missed a few games, hurt the same shoulder again and his season — and OU career — was finished.
But there is still reason for hope as the Sooners forge through this strange stretch: Who the heck knows what might happen to make the offensive line woes better?
After all, it was a mere three weeks ago when the questions at Big 12 Media Days, directed at Bob Stoops, Landry Jones and, yes, center Ben Habern, all focused on how Jones could possibly carry on with such inexperience at wide receiver, and how Habern led a veteran offensive line that was one of the team's strongest units.
Today, the receiver situation seems much less critical with the additions of junior college transfer Lacoltan Bester and Penn State refugee Justin Brown, both of whom have impressed coaches through fall camp. That's in addition to a freshman group that too seems poised and ready to contribute.
Meanwhile, offensive linemen are suddenly the biggest concern in Soonerland after Habern decided to call it a career because of lingering back and neck issues, and senior Tyler Evans tore his ACL on the first day of practices, taking with them 59 career starts.
Just a couple days before fall camp started, at the Sooner Caravan event in Oklahoma City, Bob Stoops reassured the concerned OU faithful that the situation at wide receiver would be fine.
“We'll be better than you think,” Stoops said. “Believe me. Everybody just relax. We just got to go out and coach 'em. We'll be OK.”
He sang a similar, although maybe not quite as confident, tune after Monday's practice, when the nature of Evans' injury was disclosed.
“A couple of tough breaks, but we've still got guys in there we really like,” Stoops said. “But yeah, it makes you a little more thin.”
Crises' come and crises' go for OU football, but this one can't be taken too lightly. Yes, Gabe Ikard will be great at center, and sophomore Adam Shead should be just fine in his return to the lineup.
Junior Bronson Irwin has no career starts but good game experience and has the unbridled confidence of his coaches.
But still, a veteran, record-setting quarterback in Jones and a running back, Dominique Whaley, who is just returning from a severe injury could be cause for concern if there are questions about the guys blocking for them.
Running backs coach Cale Gundy, for his part, said he thinks the line will be just fine, and if it isn't, he's still confident his group will carry on.
“We're gonna put five guys out there, whoever they are, and they're going to play well,” Gundy said of the offensive line after Evans' injury became public. “If they don't play well, it's my guys' job to make somebody miss or run through an arm tackle and make a play.”