Oklahoma football: Gabe Ikard will have his hands full on Saturday

Blocking Notre Dame's Louis Nix III will be the Sooner center's biggest challenge.
by Ryan Aber Published: September 24, 2013

But it won't be a solo show.

Notre Dame was in a three-man front for much of last season's game, but used a good amount of four-man as well. This season, the Fighting Irish have shown quite a bit of the four-man look.

Either way, Nix will be a handful, for Ikard and the guards especially.

“We're going to need to mix up our blocking schemes, give them some things they haven't seen in order to get some big creases in the run game,” Ikard said.

OU offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has seen quite a few big-time defensive lineman, especially in his time at Texas Tech from 2000-06.

He had to plan for Casey Hampton and Shaun Rogers at Texas and for Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek at Oklahoma.

Nix, though, is a different animal.

“They are different type of players than this guy,” Bedenbaugh said. “This guy is massive, you know? He's a big, thick guy. You look at him on film and he covers up the center. You can't even see the center.”

The Sooners don't have anyone — certainly not on the scout team — that can match Nix's size and athleticism.

But they've used sophomore Robert Hollis, the biggest defensive lineman on the team, to simulate Nix in practice.

“He's still not quite as big, but kind of using him to simulate the frame and body size,” Irwin said.

Ikard could've been a teammate of Nix's.

In 2008 — a year before Nix signed with Notre Dame — Ikard was high on the Fighting Irish's wishlist.

Ikard is Catholic. He went to Bishop McGuinness High School.

So when the Fighting Irish from South Bend came calling, that meant something to Ikard, who was recruited primarily as a tight end.

In mid-September of Ikard's senior season at McGuinness, he took an official visit to Notre Dame and saw the Irish beat Michigan 35-17.

Three weeks later, he took his official visit to Norman, watching the Sooners beat Nebraska handily.

The visits were the only official ones Ikard made.

As he was finishing up his Norman visit, Ikard committed to the Sooners.

But he could've seen himself playing for Notre Dame.

“I really enjoyed it up there,” Ikard said. “They were first-class with everything. It probably was my second choice behind Oklahoma.”

by Ryan Aber
Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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