NORMAN — While the defensive backs are wondering about safety Tony Jefferson's ankle, running back Roy Finch is wondering about playing time and the media is wondering about defensive tackle Casey Walker, center Gabe Ikard is wondering about a statistic: Why the heck is the Sooners' sack number so high?
In 2011, the offensive line gave up 11 sacks in 13 games.
In 2012, the offensive line has given up six sacks in its first two games.
Sure, there are the careers that ended before the season started, players who walked away from the team, the shuffle of new players and old, and, well, just a basic lack of experience. Still, isn't the basic goal as an offensive lineman twofold? 1. Block your man. 2. Don't let that man touch your quarterback.
No wonder quarterback Landry Jones has raked in 101 yards less than this time last year (474 yards this season compared to 575 yards last). If the fourth-year starter isn't handing the ball off to Damien Williams, he's possibly lying on the turf.
During a rout of Florida A&M on Sept. 8, Jones scrambled from one attacking defender only to turn and run straight into another.
“It was kind of a corner flat read,” Jones said. “I didn't feel like either one of them were open, so I was going to try to escape and make a play. I turned around and he (the defender) happened to be there. There's not much I can do at that point, so I kind of just took the hit and took the sack right there.”
But what about the two sacks on backup quarterback Blake Bell? Not much point to run the Belldozer when Bell couldn't even get to third-and-short because he lost yards when teammates missed their blocks.
Yes, by the time Bell was in, a lot of the backups were playing, but when does coach Bob Stoops say enough is enough? The backups can't take that much of a drop-off — or can they? After all, the lack of o-line experience has already proven itself early in the season.
Yet Josh Heupel, Oklahoma's co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, talked about the quarterback understanding protection and throwing the ball away.
Offensive lineman Adam Shead said he wasn't concerned with anything major from the line. But, Shead stated that as for the sacks, everybody needs to “get on the same page.”
For center Ikard, that page includes the stats line for sacks. Ikard does not want to see that number inflate drastically in the coming games.
“There's no excuse us giving up that many hits on the quarterback in two games,” Ikard said. “That's just inexcusable.”