NORMAN — The last time Oklahoma had to break in a new starting quarterback, it was the offensive line that had a hand in making that happen.
In 2009, an inexperienced offensive line led to Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford being battered around in the opener against BYU.
Bradford went down with a shoulder injury in the closing seconds of the first half of that game, leading to Landry Jones making his debut to start the second half.
Bradford briefly returned later that season before being reinjured, ending his Sooners career.
Wednesday came and went without an announcement on who will start at quarterback against Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 31, but either way, Blake Bell or Trevor Knight will have better support up front than Jones had.
The Sooners return four offensive linemen — Gabe Ikard, Bronson Irwin, Adam Shead and Daryl Williams — who started 10 or more games last season. Ty Darlington and Tyrus Thomas made spot starts last season as well.
And even with that returning front-line, perhaps no position received more of an immediate boost in the recruiting class than the offensive line.
Oklahoma added three junior college offensive linemen that are expected to be in the rotation this season in guards Tony Feo and Dionte Savage and tackle Josiah St. John.
The Sooners also have a new offensive line coach in Bill Bedenbaugh.
Bedenbaugh beefed up the offensive line over the offseason, asking them to pack on pounds while maintaining their mobility as much as possible.
Since practice began, the change has been even more evident.
“He's on us all the time about our technique — where our hands are, out feet, our alignment, where our eyes are,” center Gabe Ikard said. “That's one of the biggest things I've noticed. He's very big on putting your eyes in the right spot. He's a really good coach, and we've really learned a lot so far, but the biggest impact he's had is on having the O-line recognize defense and recognize blitzes.”
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