Jason Kersey: Oklahoma's defensive line could be the team's biggest weakness

The Oklahoman's OU football writer Jason Kersey took questions from readers in his Power Lunch Chat today. Here's a recap of today's Q&A.
by Jason Kersey Modified: April 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm •  Published: April 17, 2013
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The Oklahoman's OU football writer Jason Kersey took questions from readers in his Power Lunch Chat today. You can join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here's a recap of today's Q&A:

Anthony 11:00 a.m. Why is there 3 walk-ons playing on the OL ahead of Nile Kasitati and Derrick Farniok? Also, Will Gabe Ikard return for the season opener?
Jason Kersey 11:01 a.m. Nila Kasitati is still recovering from last season's torn ACL. I'm sure they don't want to rush him back to action. Farniok is still pretty raw, but that excuse isn't going to be acceptable for too much longer. Ikard will definitely be OK by the season opener. He told me he'd be fine in the next week or so, actually.
Will 11:01 a.m. Jason- Is the secondary so poor that Gabe Lynn has to be on the field? Wouldn't it make more sense to see a freshman or sophmore on the field making mistakes they can learn from, than to watch #9 dive at ball carrier's feet and miss over and over like he has since his shining moment vs. Texas Tech in '11?
Jason Kersey 11:03 a.m. I see what you're saying, but I still think Gabe Lynn can be better. He's working at free safety now, and coaches seem to believe that's a good fit for him. Whether it is or not remains to be seen. I do think the freshmen (Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas) are going to compete for playing time immediately, and could eventually become starters
John 11:03 a.m. Do you think that Chuka Ndule will add enough good weight to be an affective DT? Right now he seems very small.
Jason Kersey 11:05 a.m. I'll be really interested to see what Chuka weighs when OU returns for the start of fall camp. I do think he needs to add weight to be a more effective DT, but I also don't necessarily think he should add so much that he loses some of the things that make him a good pass rusher. It's also possible that some of the newcomer DTs are good enough in the fall that Chuka could move back to DE. That's all going to depend on the new guys
Eric 11:05 a.m. Interesting Battle between Gage Lynn and Trey Franks at FS. Who do you think emerges as the starter or do they share the position?
Jason Kersey 11:06 a.m. I think the job will be Gabe Lynn's for the time being, but Trey Franks was definitely impressive in the spring game. He seems to be a really good fit at free safety.
Rick 11:06 a.m. Mike Stoops said that OU needs 50 quality snaps per game out of Jordan Phillips. I'm concerned because Stoops didn't sound to convinced Phillips would be able to do it. What is your assessment of Phillips?
Jason Kersey 11:08 a.m. I thought Phillips played pretty well in the spring game. We know he's a talented guy, but the knock on him has always been that he's raw. Like I said earlier with Farniok, that excuse is only valid for so long. Now that he's entering his third year in the program, he'll be relied upon for heavy duty on that inexperienced defensive line. I think he's capable of being a good player, but a lot of that is up to him
Eric 11:08 a.m. I liked the way that both Quentin Hayes and Ahmad Thomas played? Who do you think wins that battle? I can really see Ahmad becoming the starter be the 6-7 game.
Jason Kersey 11:10 a.m. I think that's definitely possible. Ahmad Thomas came to OU very advanced for a true freshman, so he's capable of making a push. I think Hayes holds onto the job for now, and probably starts the season opener. But after that, who knows?
John 11:11 a.m. What is the latest on Quincey Russell? Do you think that he honors his commitment or does he follow Jackie Shipp to Arizona St?
Jason Kerseyl 11:12 a.m. My understanding is that he's upset about Jackie Shipp being fired. That doesn't mean he won't show up, though. That's going to be one of the more intriguing things about OU to follow over the next several months.
Greg 11:12 a.m. Most of Metoyer's catches came against walk-on DBs. Is this a reason for concern or just a strange coincidence?
Jason Kersey 11:14 a.m. Maybe a little bit of both. I still believe Metoyer is a big-time talent who can make a big-time impact, but it's pretty interesting that he wasn't out there with the first-team offense.
Rick 11:14 a.m. He played very well against WRs that were playing within our vanilla offense. But do you think Cortez Johnson can develop the consistency to become a shut down corner against the best b12 WR?
Jason Kersey 11:16 a.m. Mike Stoops loves to use the word "consistent" when discussing Cortez Johnson. He's definitely the favorite to start opposite Aaron Colvin, and I think he's capable of being a good player in the Big 12. But I also think the young newcomers like Stanvon Taylor and LJ Moore will push for playing time
David 11:17 a.m. Seeing Roy Finch make our defense look silly makes me question our coaches even more. With that said, do you think Finch gets more carries this season?
Jason Kersey 11:18 a.m. I do think Finch will have the opportunity to be a bigger part of the offense next season. Sounds like he's starting to develop the off-the-field and practice habits that make coaches more inclined to play him. He's definitely an electric player with the ball in his hands.
Berny 11:18 a.m. Who is the best TE on the team? Personally, I like what I saw from Sam Grant.
Jason Kersey 11:19 a.m. I think Taylor McNamara probably has the most upside, but he did drop a big pass in the spring game. Sam Grant has a chance to be a good player, too. That position group still has a long way to go, though.
David 11:19 a.m. A lot of OU fans really hated Landry. I suspect those idiots will learn to appreciate him this year.
Jason Kersey 11:21 a.m. That's tough to predict. I agree that there were some very vocal fans who were awfully hard on Landry, and it was often unfair. But there were legitimate concerns with some of his decision making and lack of mobility. Whoever the next guy is will experience some growing pains, sure, but I think these three guys are all capable of being successful OU quarterbacks. Will that make Landry more appreciated? That's tough to say.
Zach 11:21 a.m. If Gabe Ikard is unable to return by the start of the season, do you think that Ty Darlington can "hold the line together."
Jason Kersey 11:21 a.m. I do think Darlington is more than capable of taking over that center position if he needs to, but I have no reason to believe Gabe Ikard won't be ready by the opener
Zach 11:22 a.m. With all the WR talent that we have, will Donnon Cavil redshirt or does Stoops unnecessarily blow away his freshman year?
Jason Kersey 11:22 a.m. Good question. Cavil had a good spring, but was injured for the spring game. He's a big, tall guy. I think he'll have a chance, but alot of that also depends on guys like Jaz Reynolds and Trey Metoyer.
Fish from Wetumka 11:23 a.m. Hey Jason. The spring game. Bob or Mike said something along the lines of the 4-2-5 being necessary to defend the league, or the Big 12. How come teams like Bama, and these SEC teams need none of that spread out mularkey to stop offenses, but OU keeps retooling? Isn't there more weight to what past OU Players said, that there are no tough players on the squad, that that toughness is missing?
Jason Kersey 11:25 a.m. I think there's a lot of truth to what the former players have said about toughness, but the spread out, Big 12 (and Texas A&M) offenses do present legitimate problems for most defenses they face. Just look at what Johnny Manziel did to Alabama. Bama started to figure it out a little bit in the second half, to be sure, but those types of offensive attacks are difficult for anyone to defend. OU's got a lot of different problems on defense.
Jeff 11:25 a.m. What is the biggest weakness in our defense? For me it is a toss-up between the DT and the DE.
Jason Kersey 11:28 a.m. I think you're right on the money. The entire defensive line is a question mark entering next season because of all the lost experience. But honestly, I think all the defensive units have their own questions. The secondary is talented, but lost a lot of experience and might have to rely on youngsters, too. The linebackers are coming off a season where they were made largely irrelevant. Just about anything relating to OU's defense is tough to predict right now.
Berny 11:28 a.m. Are we better off using 4 WR or 3 WR and TE?
Jason Kersey 11:29 a.m. In a perfect world, I think you're better off with 3 WRs and a TE. But in OU's case, with slot receivers like Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard, they might be better off with 4 WRs, at least until they have a tight end they can consistently rely on.
Jeff 11:29 a.m. I think that Trevor knight is the best option at QB. Are we better off losing an extra game next season with the more talented Knight or investing in the short term with a very average QB like Bell?
Jason Kersey 11:31 a.m. Trevor Knight very well may have the most upside of any of the quarterbacks. With a good summer and fall camp, he's certainly capable of winning the job. But I also think -- like Chuck Long said on the spring game broadcast -- OU coaches need to narrow this thing down to 2 guys pretty soon. Fall camp, with the opener coming up, isn't a good time to be splitting first-team reps between three guys. And based on what we all saw Saturday, I think those two guys will be Bell and Thompson.
Jason Kersey 11:32 a.m. Guys I'm sorry, but that's all the questions I've got time for right now. I'll answer the rest of the questions in the queue on an OU blog post later this afternoon. Thank you for all your great questions!

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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