OU's Gabe Ikard steps into center role with Ben Habern out
With center Ben Habern sidelined six to eight weeks with a broken right forearm, McGuinness product Gabe Ikard inherits a key role in Oklahoma's high octane offense.
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The position switch isn't completely new for Ikard, a former tight end who was moved to right guard his freshman year.
A redshirt sophomore, Ikard played center during two-a-days when Habern was sidelined by a concussion.
“That was the first thing all the coaches said to me,” Ikard said. “They got on the headset and said, “Hey, don't forget you were our guy during two-days. You can do it. You're fine. Just relax, get the snap back and block 'em up.'”
Habern injured his radius bone on OU's first possession of the second half of Saturday night's 38-28 win over Missouri. The injury may have occurred when Habern was trying to make a diving block downfield. Habern finished the drive but did not return.
Ikard stepped in to play center. Stephen Good took over Ikard's position. Good has nine career starts. He was the starting right guard early last season before Ikard passed him on the depth chart.
“Center might be (Ikard's) natural position,” said offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “He's pretty comfortable there. You saw that (Saturday) night. He performed extremely well.”
One of Ikard's new responsibilities as the center helps maintain a fast pace. The center also calls out blocking assignments, makes sure linebackers are accounted for and is responsible for spotting possible blitzes.
“We call it out in the film room, all of us,” Ikard said. “It's not that big a deal for me. Just make sure the other guys know where I'm going... But it's definitely different. We did a decent job without Ben in there, but we've definitely got to step it up.”
The most experienced player on OU's offensive line, Habern has made 17 consecutive starts and 27 career starts, second most on offense behind Ryan Broyles.