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Oklahoma-Kansas State: One Big Thing

The OU offensive line hasn't been good this season, and they'll need to show real improvement this week against the Wildcats.

The standards for offensive line play are extraordinarily high at Oklahoma.

That’s why Bill Bedenbaugh has been coaching so hard lately.

“He knows that we haven't been performing how we should be,” said senior right tackle Tyrese Robinson, “so he's been a little more harder on us with our technique and our assignments.”

Fans may rain down chants on quarterback Spencer Rattler, but almost every shred of Rattler’s success (or failure) is a reflection of the Sooner offensive line.

The o-line is at the heart of everything that’s gone wrong as the Sooners scored just three points in the second half of the Tulane game, then managed just 23 against Nebraska and a Lincoln Riley-era low 16 last week against West Virginia.

Riley said except for two penalties, the OU o-line played better last week in the second half.

“They gave us some opportunities in the run game. Did a better job protecting Spencer,” Riley said. “So I think — kind of like the whole offense — they were much better in the second half. We gotta play a little bit cleaner, especially when we get down in the red zone, because now we only have four drives, and so you got to take advantage of those opportunities.”

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OU’s standard is winning the Joe Moore Award as college football’s top unit, like they did in 2018, and sending guys into the NFL as starters. Right now, both team unlikely. Bedenbaugh is regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country, but any combinations he’s tried through four games this season have had minimal success.

“But like he said every time,” Robinson said, “we have to be willing to put in the extra time outside of practice and film room and learning more of our assignments, and being prepared when we go into games like the 2018 group did. They all got together, watched film together, they all did everything together. I feel like it's more of a bond that we have to build and a trust that we have to build between all of us to play how we should be.”

Kansas State is loaded with try-hard players who thrive off being a double-digit underdog — especially after scoring massive upsets each of the last two years. Their defense plays hard, they tackle well and they don’t make many mistakes. For Oklahoma to be able to move the football — especially in the wet, windy weather expected on Saturday — the offensive line will need to have its best game.

Coming off its worst game last week against WVU, that’s a tall ask. OU has a lot of improving to do in a short amount of time.

“For one,” said Robinson, “I just feel like our mentality. Going out there in how we approach the game and how we approach practice can change. And we've got to do better on that. We're a new group, you know, we had Adrian (Ealy) and Creed (Humphrey) and all them left. So it's a new center, new tackle, new right guard, so we're all just trying to learn — learn each other, get that chemistry up and build off that. We showed some improvements of certain areas in the game, but we've got a lot of work to do.”

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