OU junior guard Bronson Irwin has likely earned his first start.
That is, if Irwin can stay healthy on an offensive line that has already lost several players to injuries.
Irwin will be replacing senior guard Tyler Evans, who tore his ACL on the first day of practice this year. Evans had 29 career starts. Irwin spoke with the media Monday after practice about stepping up, his line, running back Dom Whaley and blocking for the Belldozer.
Your name came up a whole lot during summer workouts. Do you see it as kind of your time, stepping into your shoes?
Yeah. I mean, personally I'm always trying to get better so every summer I want to be better than I was last summer. Every season I want to be better than I was last season.
When you guys started camp, people saw the offensive line as something you could really count on. For this offense, you can't help but notice the past couple days …
I'll put it on record. I'll say it. I work with these guys every day through the summer and the heat. I trust every guy. If I look to my left, I trust my tackle. I trust my center. And I'll vouch for it, I think we're going to be really good.
Do you feel snakebit at all (with Nila Kasitati out with heart surgery and Austin Woods undergoing cancer treatment)?
It's rough. Obviously, you can't prepare for that, but what are you going to do? There's no reason to pout about it or sit around and feel sorry for yourself. You just got to do the best with what we have and that's what we're doing.
What were your original thoughts when you heard coach Bob Stoops say that last year wasn't Landry Jones' fault, it was the 10 guys around him?
I mean, you can't say that there's nothing you could have done to get better. There's always something you could have done to improve the game. Anytime you can change something, you need to try to do that. I'm not going to say that — you can't really point out one person or one area. Everyone needs to get better. I mean, as a whole unit, we need to get better in every position. That goes for backups, starters and everyone else.
How have your first few days gone?
They're going really well. Day 4 today. It's starting to get hot outside but I see a lot of progress as far as me personally, as well as the offensive line. They're starting to get things down.
With Tyler going down, do you feel an urge to step up?
Yeah. Yeah for sure. When a guy goes down, you feel bad. But at the same time, someone has to step up. That's the way football is from Little League all the way through.
We hear the slogan, “Team Is One,” but it's really true for an offensive line. How hard is it to overcome, when a guy goes down or two guys go down in injury to get that chemistry back together?
We rotate a lot, so guys have reps with different players around them. If you work right guard, you work left guard too. I don't want to say it's seamless but just getting reps that way in the summer and the spring really helps. Like I said, it's not seamless but it's not like you're totally thrown off because everyone is on the same page.
There's been a lot that's happened before you guys even got in pads. Does it worry you at all with guys returning, guys leaving, how the season's going to go?
No. I have full confidence in my guys. I can control what I can control. I have a lot of trust in the guys around me because we've been working together all offseason.
From what you've seen, how does Dom Whaley look after these first few days?
From what I've seen, he looks good. He's cutting good, running good. I don't really overanalyze it but from what I see, he's running really well.
What do you like about the Belldozer?
I like that we score a lot on it, I guess would be the best thing. As an offensive lineman, you like to put your hand on the ground and really ground and pound. That's what I like. Cutting down the splits and just driving people off the ball is just really fun for us.