- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Both quarterback Landry Jones and center Ben Habern were in their true freshman seasons when Oklahoma fielded the most prolific offensive line in the country. Behind the likes of Phil Loadholt, Duke Robinson and Trent Williams up front, the Sooners broke the modern FBS record for points in a season.
“That was one of the best offensive lines I’ve ever seen,” Habern said. “They had, what, all five guys go to the NFL? An unbelievable collection of talent. They were all just massive guys. You really don’t see offensive lines come together like that very often, especially in college.”
But Habern and Jones both expect this 2012 group to be OU’s best offensive line since 2008. These Sooners have experience and depth. The level of overall talent is the closest it has been since ’08, too.
“The line I watched from the sidelines (in ’08), those guys were pretty good,” Jones said. “This line could be that type of line. We’ve got that talent, we’ve got that talent level. (I'm) excited to see what it’s going to look like, how this line is going to come together as a unit.”
Habern and guards Gabe Ikard and Tyler Evans are entering either their third or fourth seasons as starters. Lane Johnson, who started all but one game at right tackle in 2011, is battling Tyrus Thompson for the starting job on the left side. Daryl Williams, by many accounts one of the team’s most impressive workers of the entire offseason, has all but nailed down the starting role at right tackle.
“Experience wise and depth wise, we’re right there with them,” Habern said. “We have a lot of talent, a lot of guys that have played a lot of football and have a lot of experience. We may not be the same size as them. Phil was, what, 330 (pounds)? And Duke was huge also. Size wise we don’t match up with them.
“But experience wise, yeah we do. The experience we have and the depth we have we’re able to compete. Most people think of me, Gabe, Tyler and Shead. But Bronson Irwin is a guy that has had some playing time and is a great football player. Nila (Kasitati) is a young guy who’s a big, strong kid. Once he understands being an offensive lineman, the footwork and technique, he’ll be able to rotate in and out, too.”
6dBrandon Chatmon and Jake Trotter