As is true with even the best college football teams, there is typically one unit which is the largest source of concern as spring practice plays out and the long summer off-season rolls around. For the 2013 Oklahoma Sooners, there’s little doubt about which unit this is — the defensive line.
Even before losing the core of their unit for a variety of reasons, the Sooners were manhandled by the Texas A&M Aggies on national television in the Cotton Bowl. Now, given, the Aggies that did the damage are two future NFL stars in sure-fire first round pick Luke Joeckel and likely 2014 first-rounder Jake Matthews, but the mismatch was apparent nonetheless.
The loss of four seniors from the 2012 line will put more pressure than ever on certain guys to rise to the occasion and prove they can be disruptive to opposing offensive lines during the course of the brutal schedule the Sooners will encounter this fall. Guys like Chuka Ndulue, Jordan Phillips and Mike Onuoha will be expected to play at the level of some of the better defensive line units in recent history which have become a hallmark of Bob Stoops coached teams.
These three guys combined for only 60 tackles last season, so needless to say, the burden they carry and the production they will be expected to deliver is much much greater than 20 tackles per man. Given this, could it be possible that incoming players from the 2013 recruiting class could have a greater impact than in past seasons?
If so, the most likely candidate would be junior college transfer Quincy Russell simply due to having some experience with the type of physicality the Sooners are certain to encounter in Big 12 play. Freshmen Kendrick Huggins, Charles Walker and Matthew Romar all arrive in Norman as three-star recruits and shouldn’t be depended upon to make much of an impact in 2013.
In short, the Sooners will be looking for someone to step up, rise to the occasion, and prove the defensive line can play at a level similar to the offensive line which promises to be one of the best in the country.
You can trust one thing, opposing offensive coordinators will definitely be testing if Oklahoma can do just that — early, and often.