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OU 2010 Players to Watch, Day 2: Stephen Good

20100214-OU Players to Watch 20100214-OU Players to Watch

Originally Published: Feb 13, 2010 5:40 PM CDT

Also on Oklahoma Sports:
-OSU Player to Watch, Day 2: Markelle Martin
-Tulsa Player to Watch, Day 2: Damaris Johnson


Corey DeMoss
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OL Stephen Good

Background:

Good was one of many offensive linemen to suffer an injury last season, and the Sooners’ entire offense suffered. In 2008, DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown each rushed for more than 1,000 yards. Last year, neither eclipsed the 750-yard mark. The injury problems got so bad that two different tight ends – Brody Eldridge and Eric Mensik – were forced to fill in on the line.

Why he’s on the list:

If OU is going to rejoin the nation’s elite teams, the offensive line will be the key. Two years ago, the Sooners made it to the national championship largely because of one of the nation’s best lines. After losing four of those starters to graduation or the NFL, last season’s injury problems compounded the problem.

Good was supposed to be one of the new anchors of the line, but he joined the revolving door at guard that continued all season. Good’s emergence as a consistent blocker could go a long way toward improving OU’s lackluster running game.

Best-case scenario:

Good manages to stay healthy all season and becomes a staple at guard. His improved blocking opens consistent holes in the middle of the line, giving OU’s running backs plenty of space to operate. A strong running game allows the Sooners to use a more balanced offensive attack, leading to more opportunities for big plays using play-action passing.

Worst-case scenario:

Good’s injury problems continue, forcing Bob Stoops to shift players around the line once again. Such constant changes prevent the Sooners from gaining any kind of stability, which keeps all of the new young linemen from progressing as they should. That results in a lack of running lanes as well as increased pressure on the quarterback.

My take:

Bob Stoops knows one of the biggest keys for his offense this season is the offensive line. Good has been high on the coaches’ list of young linemen since he arrived in Norman, and barring injury a starting job is Good’s to lose. It is impossible to predict whether a player will stay healthy all season, but it’s also impossible for the Sooners to be more cursed with injuries than they were last year.

In high school, Good was rated the No. 2 run blocker in the nation by Rivals.com, so clearly he has the skills to become a legitimate force. He just needs the time to get acclimated to one position without shifting in and out of the lineup. Some of the other positions along the line – particularly center – are still up in the air, but Good has a very strong chance of becoming an entrenched starter. See later in our "Players to Watch" series for more on other linemen who need to step up.

Other OU players to watch (click the links below to read the full stories):

Day 1: WR Jaz Reynolds

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