NORMAN — Bad news mounts for the 2012 Sooners. OU has lost four offensive linemen in the last week. Two who had proved they could play and two who hadn't proved they couldn't.
This after an off-again, on-again waltz with knucklehead receivers, plus transfers galore last winter, some via invitation, some not.
The early returns on Bob Stoops' 14th Sooner season (can you believe it?) show one of those maddening years when good fortune takes a detour around your campus.
But Stoops isn't giving in. He won't admit to plagues descending upon the land, even in the form of Ben Habern's neck issues and Tyler Evans' major knee injury.
“Just depends on how you look at it,” Stoops said. “We've got some good news, too.”
That would be Penn State evacuee Justin Brown, who on the solid stage of the Big Ten has shown he can catch passes and return punts. The former is big for the Sooners and the latter is bigger, if you saw all those bouncing punts in the spring game.
I don't necessarily agree with Stoops that one Penn State passcatcher makes up for two burly blockers. But I will say this. Offensive line is the least important unit on the field.
I know every football purist from Tuscaloosa to Iowa City just tossed their lunch, but it's true. At least it's true in the second decade of this century and in this gizmo league we call the Big 12.
The Sooners weren't all that great at running the ball the last couple of years, even with a cupboard of healthy linemen. That's why the Belldozer rode to the rescue.
And while OU likes to still pretend it's a power-running team, the Sooner passing game is spread-it-out, air-it-out. An OU lineman's pass-blocking job is just get in the way. Mike Leach taught us that in his 10 Lubbock seasons. Landry Jones is going to have to get rid of the ball quickly, and the same would be true if Evans and Habern remained on the line.
“I don't see anything here so far that should hold us back very much,” Stoops said not defiantly but with that Youngstown matter-of-factness that is his most defining personality trait.
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