The Norman Transcript

Sports

August 11, 2009

It's the vets job to lead

There’s no definitive way to put a value on leadership on a football field. Coaches are hired and fired based upon their ability to lead. But there’s nothing they can do about making it mandatory in the huddle or the locker room.

It’s a very precious item for football teams. Great teams must have it in abundance. Those that fail to meet expectations typically point to the lack of it as the reason.

Oklahoma could have as many as six first-year starters on offense this season. It’s a scary thought considering it’s the biggest turnover since 2005 — the only time in the last decade the Sooners failed to win at least 10 games.

New starters on the offensive line and at receiver have been enough for some to predict a down year for the Sooners. If coaches are worried, their poker faces are in postseason form.

Bob Stoops said there’s a big reason he isn’t concerned about having first-year starters playing key offensive roles.

“They’re going to look around, and there’s a lot of guys that have played a lot of excellent football, and they feel they’ve got to live up to playing like these guys,” Stoops said. “I would expect and hope that that pressure would be there, that you guys need to play at this level. This is what we’re used to.”

Peer pressure isn’t always a negative. It can create a standard everyone agrees to maintain. Every college football program would love to have a high one that players strive every day to meet.

The belief is OU has enough experienced leaders in players like quarterback Sam Bradford, left tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jermaine Gresham, fullback Matt Clapp, tight end/fullback/center Brody Eldridge and running backs DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown, that going about things the right way will easily rub off upon those starting for the first time.

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