Stoops calls out young offensive line
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops left little doubt about the area of his offense that needs the most improvement as the Sooners prepare for the spring practice.
Stoops singled out an inexperienced offensive line that returns only tackle Trent Williams from last season as his biggest concern.
Unlike many coaches in spring news conference settings, Stoops didn't sugarcoat his feelings about the rebuilt offensive line.
"Losing four of our five starters, that's where another major issue will be. And we'll see," Stoops said. "Those guys at this point -- whether their work ethic or attitude -- those are the things that need to improve."
Stoops ripped into the group after they have fallen behind other parts of the team in early conditioning drills.
"They haven't had the winter that everybody else has had," Stoops said. "Right now, they are the weak link of our team. We'll see if they can respond and can have the kind of spring and summer to help us become a team that can contend for a title. They will be a big part whether we will or will not, depending on their attitude and work habits."
The Sooners' offensive line was a key part of a record-breaking offense that scored at least 58 points in its final six Big 12 Conference games last season. The Sooners led the nation in scoring and ranked third in total offense, passing offense and sacks allowed.
But the loss of starters like tackle Phil Loadholt, guards Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker and center Jon Cooper -- a group that combined for 149 career college starts -- makes it an entirely different proposition for the new offensive group this season.
The Sooners' rebuilt offensive line began working at spring practice Tuesday trying to reach their coach's exacting standards.
Williams is expected to move to left tackle where he can protect the blind side of quarterback Sam Bradford. Heralded transfer Jarvis Jones from LSU and returning junior Cory Brandon will battle for the starting job at right tackle.
Sophomore Stephen Good is expected to have the nod at left guard with Brian Simmons starting the spring No. 1 at right guard. Sophomore Alex Williams will be the primary reserve at both positions. Jason Hannan and redshirt freshman Ben Habern are hooked up in a tight battle at center.
Stoops put all of them on notice that he's expecting immediate improvement throughout the spring.
"They have been very inconsistent in how they work," Stoops said. "We'll just see if they can develop that toughness and attitude to get it done."