NORMAN — New Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh inherited a unit this spring that struggled through injuries and depth issues last season.
After 15 practices with the group, Bedenbaugh is impressed but — like most football coaches — feels significant improvement still needs to be made.
He's one of three new assistant coaches on Bob Stoops' 2013 staff, joining defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery and special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Jay Boulware.
Bedenbaugh, who came to Oklahoma from West Virginia, spoke with The Oklahoman last week about his unit and the impact new assistants can have on a coaching staff.
Q: After a spring with your new offensive linemen, what were you most impressed with?
A: The biggest thing is I think they're extremely smart. They're one of the smartest groups I've worked with. They really want to be great, they work hard, and that's half the battle.
What do you think those guys still need to work on?
Everything, just like everybody. I know that's probably not what anybody wants to hear, but offensive line is constant repetition. It's constant improvement. You're always working to get better because — as much as we want to — I don't know that you'll ever be as good as an offensive line coach wants you to be.
So there are always, constantly, things to work on. Steps, where you put your hands, where you put your aiming point, your set, whatever. It's constantly improving that, and also working on your athleticism and strength, and playing with good leverage.
Last season, Ty Darlington came in at center, allowing Gabe Ikard to shift back out to guard. Is that a combination you'll use this season?
There's a bunch of possibilities, and it's hard to say at this exact moment because I think we had four or five guys out for spring that'll come back. What combinations and all those things are tough for me to say right now, just because I haven't seen those guys.
Some have said that you and the other new coaches have injected some fresh life into the program. Is that something you've noticed as one of those new faces?
I don't know. That's one of those things that's kinda tough to say. This is one of the most successful programs — obviously, since college football started — but also during Coach Stoops' tenure. Bob's expectations are national championships, and heck, he's played in four of them. There's a bunch of great coaches out there that can't say that.
I think everybody has a role, and you do your role or your job to the best of your ability, whatever that may be. I think new ideas — whether we use them or not — it's just sitting in there and talking about different things. Whether it be offense, defense, recruiting, special teams, any of those things.
The best way to get better is to constantly learn. Every year, I go out and talk to people. I go to O-line clinics. If I can get one thing that'll help us win, that's what I'll work on.
I just think sitting around, talking, seeing what Jerry did at Michigan, what they were doing at Auburn, all those things, and what we've done at places I've been at, and seeing what fits here. Some of those fit here and some of those don't.