Claremore Daily Progress


November 15, 2012

OU offensive line has rolled with the punches


NORMAN — Left tackle Lane Johnson was a quarterback in high school, but grew into a 6-7, 300-pound offensive lineman. He quickly learned linemen in general take a beating few can comprehend.

“It’s not like playing quarterback anymore,” left tackle Lane Johnson said with a laugh. “It’s a tough game and you have to be tough enough to make it through the season. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

The Sooners have only three games left before that much-needed break between the end of the regular season and the bowl game. Those three weeks finally provide enough time to let the body heal from the intensity of the season.

OU coach Bob Stoops admits practices in November are shorter and less physical than they were in September. Preserving offensive linemen is one of the main reasons.

“Those guys — there’s 300 pounds of impact on ankles, knees and helmets and shoulders on every snap. A DB or a linebacker may have 10 tackles in a game, but those guys are gonna run into somebody on every single snap,” he said. “It’s a lot of hitting.”

The Sooners are still in the hunt for a BCS bowl this season. One of the reasons is their offensive line has been able to absorb the pounding.

After Tuesday’s practice, guard Bronson Irwin started peeling off tape while talking to reporters. After five minutes, he barely finished with his left hand. He hadn’t even gotten to the right ankle, which was wrapped so heavily that his shoe was barely visible.

But he still made it out there for a full practice.

“Up front, you have to keep everybody in there and keep the chemistry going,” guard Bronson Irwin said. “Every offensive line around the country is fighting through injuries. If it’s not overly severe, you have to fight it and stay out there.”


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