August 11, 2008

Braxton breaks down the offensive line

Two-a-day practices get underway this week at the University of Oklahoma. After Bob Stoops put his team through their first major scrimmage of the fall, the Sooners will have plenty to work on this week. One of major goals will be cutting down on penalties in the offensive line.

SoonerScoop.com staffer L.P. Pannell caught up with one of the line's returning starters Branndon Braxton for a quick-hitting Q&A on the state of the offensive line just one week into practices.

SoonerScoop.com: Trust me when I tell you this question is not going where you think it is.
Branndon Braxton:
(Laughing) Okay.

SS.com: After the Fiesta Bowl…
Braxton:
Oh here we go again.

SS.com: I didn't even finish
Braxton:
I'm just playing

SS.com: After the bowl game, there was a lot of talk from both fans and the media that this line might be too big. What do you think when you hear that?
Braxton:
People are always going to have their opinions, our job isn't to get caught up in what people think and what the media says. Our job is to go out there, whether you're the smallest line or the biggest line, and get the job done. I've learned since I've been here people are always going to have shots for you both when you're up and when your down.

SS.com: No matter what the critics say, your line still blocked for a freshman quarterback who led the nation in passing efficiency. What was it like blocking for Sam last year and how much pride did you and the rest of the line take in Sam's records?
Braxton:
A lot. The funny thing about Sam is you really forget how young he is. He's so mature on and off the field with how he carries himself, you would think he's a fifth year senior. I remember coming into camp this summer and someone referred to him (Bradford) as a sophomore and I found myself saying "Wow he's young."

SS.com: Your entering you final season. When you were working out this summer, did you find yourself focusing harder knowing you only have one more shot at a national title?
Braxton:
Yea I think that this is the best shape I've been in since I came to Oklahoma. And not just me. I think both lines as a whole really worked hard this off season knowing what is at stake. There were a lot of two a days spent in the gym. In the end I think that's really kind of the finished product of coming to Oklahoma. With Schmidty and the rest of the staff pushing you from the moment you get here, by the time you're a senior its almost second nature to go the extra mile.

SS.com: Less than seven practices into the year, how are things looking for the line?
Braxton:
Good. I mean we're not where we want to be Aug. 30 but we still have three weeks to iron things out. We're getting a lot of reps in and that's good. The more reps, the better.

SS.com: You're going up against the d-line, one of the best in the country how has that been? I imagine with the two of you as good as you are things get pretty intense.
Braxton:
Yea it's a battle every day. Some days we come out on top and other days we get it handed to us. We work one on one against them year round, but this is the time of the year when it really gets fun because we get to throw the pads on and it becomes much more physical.

SS.com: Getting back to the O-line. How versatile is this group with you and others looking to play more than one position this year?
Braxton:
We just really have a lot of athletes on this line. A lot of guys who can play both center and guard or both guard and tackle. I really think it's an advantage for us especially if and when we rotate. Then it will give each of us a chance to get a breather and stay fresh, something a lot of teams don't have the luxury of.

SS.com: Which do you like better? Guard or tackle.
Braxton:
I really don't have a favorite. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Bottom line, whatever helps the team I'm cool with.

SS.com: If the line needs a center, are you going to raise your hand?
Braxton:
I don't know about that (laughing). Coop always tries to coax me into playing center but I don't know if I have the snapping down.

SS.com: You hit on the versatility of the line what about the depth? The fact that you guys are six, seven or eight deep really makes you guys compete each and every day in practice.
Braxton:
Oh yea, there's a lot of competition. But again that's what goes on at a program like Oklahoma. And it's not just our position, there's competition everywhere because everyone that steps on that field and everyone who puts on a jersey was regarded as one of the best players in the country. That's why they're here.

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