Oklahoma Sooners: Arthur Brown

Friday Q&A: Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
1:00
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Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard has a good case as the Big 12's best offensive lineman, and this week he took some time out with ESPN.com to talk about his spot in the middle of the Sooners line as well as this weekend's game against Kansas State.

Note: Portions of this interview were cut for length.

What kind of energy do you feel like the team has entering a pretty anticipated week?

I feel like we got lots of rest last week and a long weekend off, so we definitely brought a lot of energy into this week of practice, and we’re excited to play our first ranked opponent and a great team in K-State. We’ve got a really positive attitude in practice and toward the game. That’s just kind of one great thing about the team this year. We all have a great attitude and enjoy each other, so there’s a lot of positive energy.

What do you feel like you can prove this weekend?

It’s our first conference game, so one of the things we wanted to do was get off to a good start. I don’t feel necessarily that we have something to prove, but we want to come out and play sharp, play well, play crisp and play clean. It’s one of the things where you want to come out and give your best performance in your conference opener.

[+] EnlargeGabe Ikard
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesGabe Ikard and the Sooners are excited to get their first shot at a ranked opponent.
We hear so much about the way Oklahoma plays at home, why do you feel like that is?

I think we just have some of the best fans in the country. With 85,000, it gets pretty loud. It’s a great place to play. We got the natural grass, we don’t have turf anymore. We’re just very comfortable here and we get a lot of support from our fans. Other than that, once the whistle blows for the first play, it doesn’t matter where you play. It’s football. There’s something to home-field advantage.

Is there a sense of invincibility at times when you’re at home?

No (laughs). Not once we got embarrassed by Texas Tech last year. If anyone on this team had that feeling and was around here for that game, that notion went out the window.

What specifically needs to be better for you guys on the line?

The biggest thing we’ve got to keep building on is the physicality in the run game and the physicality in pass protection. Those are the two biggest things we’ve got to work on every single day. We’ve got to open up the holes for Dom and Damien and those guys and we need to give Landry time. We’ve got all kinds of superstar wide receivers, and it’s ultimately on our shoulders to let those players make plays.

What do you see when you look at Kansas State’s defensive line on tape?

I see talented guys. They’ve got quick hands, they’re quick-twitch guys who can rip inside real quick, use spin moves, use flip moves on the edge. Then they’ve got big, thick defensive tackles who really clog up gaps and clog up blockers in the run game, so they’re very talented on the defensive line and very talented at linebacker. We’re getting ready to play the best competition we’ve played, and we’ve just got to get prepared in practice for that.

What players stuck out to you?

The ends. No. 42 [Meshak Williams] making a lot of nice plays. When you drop back to pass, he’s a really good pass-rush guy. The guy who jumps off tape, though is [linebacker] Arthur Brown. He’s got a great motor and you can tell how hard he plays. He’s got great technique when he tries to shed blocks and shed linemen, getting under guys. He’s really the best defensive player we’ve seen on tape so far. He’s definitely a very talented guy.

You’re the only team that really handled K-State in the regular season a year ago. What are you expecting this time around?

I just expect to come out and play our best, but I expect them to bring a lot of energy. They’re a team that’s very good on the road, they always focus. They’re very disciplined, they don’t make mistakes and expect you to beat yourself. So, we’ve just got to come out, play disciplined, play hard, execute and it should be a good game for us.
Sept. 22, 2012: vs. Kansas State
2011 record: 10-3 | 2011 conference record: 7-2 (Big 12)
OU’s all-time against Kansas State: 71-17-4

Top returners: QB Collin Klein, RB John Hubert, WR Chris Harper, WR Tyler Lockett, OG Nick Puetz, DE Adam Davis, DE Meshak Williams, DT Vai Lutui, LB Arthur Brown, LB Tre Walker, CB Nigel Malone, S Ty Zimmerman

Key losses: OT Zach Hanson, OT Clyde Aufner, OG Colten Freeze, DT Ray Kibble, DE Jordan Voelker, LB Emmanuel Lamur, CB David Garnett, S Tysyn Hartman

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Collin Klein* (1,141 yards)
Passing: Collin Klein * (1,918 yards)
Receiving: Chris Harper* (547 yards)
Tackles: Arthur Brown* (101)
Sacks: Meshak Williams* (7)
Interceptions: Nigel Malone* (7)

What they’re saying: “We are putting more pressure on us than anyone else. We want this season to be something really special.” – WR Chris Harper

Three things to watch:

1. Once again, the Kansas State offense will live and die with bruising rushing quarterback Collin Klein. After winning the job, Klein emerged into one of the biggest surprises last season while quarterbacking the Wildcats all the way to the Cotton Bowl. Klein won’t sneak up on anyone this season, but with Robert Griffin III gone, the ‘Cats will have the top running QB in the Big 12.

2. The Wildcats have to replace three starters up front offensively, but every one of Klein’s top weapons is back to help him. Chris Harper led the Wildcats with 40 catches for 547 yards last season. Harper will be flanked by Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett, a Freshman All-America. After rushing for 970 yards last season John Hubert returns at running back to help shoulder the rushing load with Klein.

3. The Wildcats boast one of the favorites to win Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in middle linebacker Arthur Brown, who is coming off a 101-tackle season. Brown is fast and a ferocious tackler, and will make it difficult for anyone to run consistently on Kansas State.

Early 2012 Big 12 power rankings

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
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With the season over, it's time to take a look at the Big 12 in 2012. For now, that means assuming a few things. And we all know what assuming does.

It makes us all look like geniuses.

So, for the purpose of this, I'll assume a few predictions. First, I'll assume Robert Griffin III is heading for the NFL. I'll also assume Mike Stoops lands back at Oklahoma.

That said, it's time to project what this league looks like in 2012.

And, before we start, let me make this clear: The Big 12 from 1-6 is absolutely wide open. Last year, the league only had three legitimate title contenders: Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. This year, every one of the top six teams (and maybe seven, if RG3 returns) can win the Big 12 in a realistic scenario. The difference between Nos. 2 and 6 is minuscule and could change a ton by the end of spring practice.

And for the curious: I would have Missouri behind Kansas State on this list, and I'd have Texas A&M right behind Texas.

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners moved into the familiar role of favorite after Landry Jones announced he'd return in 2012, but not nearly as heavy a favorite as they were in 2011. Injuries hurt Oklahoma late this season, and replacing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander, along with linebacker Travis Lewis and corner Jamell Fleming won't be easy. Receivers Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds have to play big for the Sooners to get the win.

2. Kansas State: The big question mark for this team is can it take care of business and not get stuck in close games in 2012? The Wildcats were 8-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less this season. They can't count on duplicating that in 2012. They should be better, and return most of the big pieces from this season's 10-win team, most importantly quarterback Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown. Next season is the time to prove it.

3. West Virginia: Who else is excited to see Geno Smith, Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineer Express show up in Big 12 country next season? Like I wrote last week, giving up 33 points and still winning by five touchdowns is the Big 12 way of life. The Mountaineers broke Baylor's week-old bowl scoring record with 70 points, and bring back most of a good Big East champion team in 2012. The transition won't be easy, but they've got a chance to make a big splash in their inaugural year. The Big 12 and West Virginia are both convinced that the Mountaineers will join the Big 12 in 2012 and are planning as if it will happen, though pending lawsuits with the Big East mean it's still unofficial.

(Read full post)

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