"They haven’t had the winter that everybody else has had,” Stoops said. "Right now, they are the weak link of our team. We’ll see if they can respond and have the kind of spring and summer to help us become a team that can contend for a Big 12 Championship. They will be a big part whether we will or will not, depending on their attitude and work habits.”
Rising senior guard Brian Simmons
, one of only two returning linemen with significant playing experience, called the criticism fair after the Sooners’ first spring practice Tuesday.
"I do understand completely what he is saying,” Simmons said. "We have a lot of work to do. The thing is getting everyone to work together at a high level every time.”
Offensive line coach James Patton
is working the following players on the first team: Trent Williams
(left tackle), Simmons (left guard), Ben Habern
(center), Stephen Good
(right guard) and Cory Brandon
"Those guys, at this point, whether it’s their work ethic or their attitude, need to improve,” Stoops said. "They’ve been very inconsistent in how they work and their toughness and their discipline.”
Stoops confirmed Tuesday that several starters will miss spring practice recovering from injuries.
Defensive end Auston English
, who sustained a knee sprain last season, is out for the spring. He was also spotted wearing a boot on his right foot during practice. Tight end Brody Eldridge
, who struggled with a recurring ankle sprain in 2008, will be held out for at least the first half of the spring, Stoops said.