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OU football notebook: Former tight ends leading offensive line

BY JAKE TROTTER, Staff Writer, Modified: November 16, 2010 at 9:16 pm •  Published: November 16, 2010

University of Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was asked Tuesday which offensive lineman had graded out the best so far this season.

Wilson said veteran Ben Habern had graded out the highest, but part of that was because he plays center, a position rarely put into one-on-one blocking situations. Wilson went on to praise guard Gabe Ikard and right tackle Eric Mensik, both converted tight ends from last season.

“I think Gabe Ikard has made a ton of progress and has probably played close or as well as anyone as a young guy,” Wilson said. “Next would probably be Eric Mensik. The other guys, we've had some here's a good game, a couple games below average. Last week Brian Lepak played a little bit more on senior day and did a pretty good job. But I think those two guys, Gabe and Eric. ... they still get overpowered once in a while, but those two guys have been the best.”

Wilson admits it's still been tough sledding to get the run game going at times against bigger defensive lines because both Ikard and Mensik continue to play undersized. Nowhere was that more evident than during the three goal line stands Texas A&M made two weeks ago. According to Wilson, one solution is to find ways to utilize the athleticism of Ikard and Mensik to ignite the run game.

“This week, they're playing against 330 and 340 (pounds) inside and 280 and 270 at end. It's a thick crowd,” Wilson said. “Whatever it is, whether we're pulling or zoning or angles or whatever schemes we're doing, we're going to have to find something in the run game. When we get where we don't run the football, we're a much easier team to defend. Whether we're knocking them off or whatever, we've got to get some run-game going.”


The player with the most talent up front in the minds of the coaches has not been playing up to his early-season level the last couple of weeks. That's left tackle Donald Stephenson.

Both Stephenson and Mensik struggled to deal with the outside pressure presented in the loss at Texas A&M.

“He was pretty good at midseason,” Wilson said. “The last couple games he hasn't played horribly, but has not quite graded at the percentage we consider a winning, championship rate. He's been OK.”


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