Q&A: Offensive line coach James Patton
But this off-season, the line already has changed its tune. At the advent of spring ball, Stoops noted the line was one of the team’s “best groups” during winter conditioning.
Now, the line will try to continue that momentum into the spring. Its position coach, James Patton, answered a few questions about the line, including some of the faces up front.
It sounds like Donald Stephenson is a guy who’s coming on?
“He’s done really well this off season and I think he understands his time is running out. This game don’t last forever, so I think he understands that it’s time for him to be committed to his team and be committed to his teammates and do as well as he can. He’s done that up to this point.”
Can you break down what the rotation looks like right now?
“We’ve got a couple of teams out there, team “A” and team “B”. But Mensik is doing a good job and Cory Brandon is doing a good job and Donald will be in the mix, all three of those guys. Josh Aladenoye is doing a good job at right tackle. Inside at guard we’re looking at Tyler Evans, Tavaris Jeffries and Stephen Good on the left side and Bronson and Gabe Ikard on the other side with Ikard and Brian Lepak in there at center. Then Austin Woods.”
What prompted you guys to look at Ikard on the offensive line?
“He’s a good blocker. He got some reps during the bowl practices. But again, he can also put a number 80 jersey on the block on the edge if we needed him to. With Habern being down hopefully he’ll be able to do some reps after spring break. He was out there today running around and working out, so he looks pretty good. But Gabe is a good blocker, he’s smart, didn’t miss an assignment today. Smart football player.”
Coach Stoops said he was very pleased with how the offensive line worked during the off season and the way they came. That how you view your group has done?
“It’s a new year and a new spring, but we’ve still got a big challenge ahead of us. We made some dumb penalties last year and had some mistakes and that hurt us in some games. So the challenge is to play together as a group, play better as a group and stay consistent and stay healthy, which is a key But being more consistent is probably what coach Stoops is talking about. Having a mindset and being accountable as a unit. And through the winter, that’s been pretty good.”
Is Ikard a versatile guy like Brody Eldridge?
“He’s smart, a really smart football player. He can block the edge or block inside. He’s smart, he’s tough. He didn’t lose a competitive drill in the weight room during the off-season. He won every one. I like him.”
How positive would it be for your line to get Jarvis Jones and Ben Habern back for a little bit of the spring?
“Hopefully they get back and will be ready to go. It will be a bonus if those guys can get in some team drills by the end of the spring. To be able to get back into playing would be great for those guys. You only get so many snaps, so the more you can get out there and play the better you are going to do.”
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