Monday, March 11, 2013
With Ikard hurt, Darlington to step in again
By Jake Trotter
NORMAN, Okla. -- Ty Darlington arrived at Oklahoma last year hardly looking the part of a college offensive lineman. A high school sports hernia caused Darlington's weight to drop all the way down to the low 260s.
Though undersized, Darlington impressed during preseason practice with his technique and smarts. And when starting center Gabe Ikard suffered a concussion the week of Baylor in November, the true freshman filled in admirably.
Ty Darlington performed well in Gabe Ikard's absence last fall. Now he'll be counted on again.
"He was ready for the moment," Bob Stoops declared afterward. "He didn’t flinch -- and he was ready to play."
The Sooners are hoping Darlington is ready for the moment again.
On just the second day of spring drills, Ikard injured his snapping hand Sunday, sources told SoonerNation. The hand is believed to be broken, though the Sooners are expected to get X-ray confirmation. If the hand is broken, as expected, Ikard would not be able to snap the rest of the spring.
The good news is the Sooners still have Darlington, who will slide back into the starting lineup at center.
"He was really impressive," Stoops said of Darlington's Baylor performance. "I didn't want to admit it, but I was pretty nervous (about starting him). But it's one of those things that you have confidence in the guy, you have to give it to him."
Stoops isn't nervous about Darlington anymore. And after the way Darlington performed against Baylor, Stoops has plenty of confidence in him, too.
Against the Bears with Darlington snapping, the Sooners scored on their first two drives, allowed just one sack and finished with 42 points in the win. With that performance, Darlington solidified his spot in the rotation and worked in at center whenever Ikard slid to guard during OU's final four games.
This time, Darlington won't be undersized. During winter workouts, he rapidly regained the mass he lost, weighing in at 282 pounds at the start of spring drills.
The Sooners were hopeful their first-team offensive line would get a chance to acclimate as a group to new position coach Bill Bedenbaugh, who replaced James Patton in the offseason.
With Ikard's injury, that won't happen. But in Darlington, the Sooners have another center who proved his mettle last season -- and who should be all the more ready for the moment this time around.