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Thursday, March 18, 2010
Weak & Strong: Oklahoma

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Weak: Offensive line

The only thing the 2009 Oklahoma offensive line did more than get penalized was get injured.

In a season filled with disappointment, the offensive line began the season as a concern, and remained one throughout. Thinning numbers at nearly every position didn’t help, and after Trent Williams suffered a concussion before the season finale, Oklahoma was forced to start walk-on Brian Lepak, though he did perform well.

But the struggling line will lose its three best blockers from last season: Williams, Brian Simmons and Brody Eldridge.

For improvement, the Sooners need players like junior Stephen Good and sophomore Tyler Evans to fulfill their potential. Freshman Bronson Irwin enrolled early and will be in spring camp for the Sooners, and junior Donald Stephenson returns from a year-long suspension. He's drawn praise from Bob Stoops for his early work.

Strong: Defensive end

Oklahoma could once again contend for the best defensive line in college football, but its real strength is on the ends.

Senior Jeremy Beal had 11 sacks (fourth-most in school history) last season after grabbing 8.5 as a sophomore. Now, his senior season will be his third as starter after two consecutive appearances on the All-Big 12 first team.

Frank Alexander played extensively (nine starts) in his first two seasons and likely assumes a permanent starting role as a junior. Seven of his 23 tackles last season were for a loss and he also notched 1.5 sacks.

As a freshman, Alexander was named an All-Big 12 honorable mention performer and had five tackles as a starter in the national title game.
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