Big 12 media days: Sooners will benefit from veterans on offense, Stoops says

By Tobi Neidy

DALLAS — With the decline of Oklahoma’s defense in the last few years, the Sooners have had to rely on their offense more than ever. That becomes much easier this year with the help of some veteran players, coach Bob Stoops said.

Landry Jones and the offensive line will help Oklahoma be an efficient offensive team due to the amount of experience they provide for the Sooners, Stoops said Monday during Big 12 media days.

With the defense looking to correct the mental errors that plagued the unit in the past, the Sooner offense is storming forward behind the team’s starting quarterback.

Jones, who enters his senior season with the Sooners, ignored the bright lights of the NFL to return for his last year in Norman. And the Sooners say Jones’ decision to come back only benefits the team.

“He’s been in the system for so many years that he probably knows our offense better than anyone,” senior center Ben Habern said. “He’s a great leader on and off the field, and most people don’t get to see that.”

Habern is another key piece of the offensive, returning to the Sooners’ starting lineup this fall after missing five games last season with an arm injury. He also underwent neck surgery during the offseason.

With Habern, the offensive returns eight players on the projected 2012 starting lineup, and that type of experience combined with the depth at each position is something that Habern says will make OU a tough team to beat from the first to the last game on the schedule.

“As far as the O-line goes, it’s five guys working together as one unit,” Habern said. “But having back-ups that have a ton of experience allows us to rotate in and out, and that will help us stay fresh even when we’re beat up later in the season.”

But maybe more importantly than depth is having an experienced offensive line that eases Jones’ overall stress level, the quarterback said.

“You can delegate and let those guys do the work for you because they know their positions and they know what it takes,” Jones said. “It starts and ends with the offensive line — if they dominate, then usually the team dominates.”

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