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December 3, 2013

Injuries still a question for OU as Bedlam nears

Norman — Four days of rest and relaxation ended for Oklahoma on Monday. It entered  full-throttle preparation for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State. It should also have a better idea who will be able to play and who won’t.

Of all the position groups on the field, the Sooners’ offensive line fully understood the value of some extra time to prepare and heal their aching bodies.

One of the reasons the Sooners (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) have been able to run the ball so well this season is the continuity they’ve had on the offensive line.

Until guard Adam Shead missed the Kansas State game with a back injury and left tackle Tyrus Thompson missed the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, the group pretty much played the entire season intact. Outside of senior guard Bronson Irwin moving ahead of sophomore Nila Kasitati at right guard after four games and Irwin starting at left guard in place of Shead, the core six have played together the entire season.

“It’s been really important for us. We’ve really gelled well, especially in the run game this year. Having five guys consistently is one of those things we haven’t had around here in a while, to get through a whole season with the same five,” center Gabe Ikard said. “We’ve been pretty lucky with injuries when it came to the offensive line.”

Or, it’s been better than a year ago at this time. The Sooners spent most of the 2012 season plugging gaps on the offensive line. Seemed a different starter missed every game due to an injury.

Building a cohesive unit was offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh’s goal since he took over the job in March. It’s five parts working in unison — like a machine.

“It’s been really important ever since last year,” right tackle Daryl Williams said. “Compared to last year, it’s way better, because last year, we just lost a guy here and then another guy. It was like a chain reaction, you know. But it’s really important. I’m glad we made it this far somewhat healthy, better than last year.”

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