As the Sooners decide who will be starting quarterback, assistant coach Shane Beamer has to figure out a kickers battle after losing the Big 12's all-time leading scorer to the NFL.
Austin Seibert — now a Cleveland Brown — spent four years as the Sooners' go-to placekicker, serving as a strong leg who was able to consistently target the back of the end zone in kickoffs. Seibert tallied a Big 12 record 498 career points.
"We got spoiled," Beamer said. "We didn't have to cover a lot of kickoffs last year."
Now, special teams cannot be comfortable, a point of emphasis in a meeting with the special teams unit on Monday night. Beamer and special teams coordinator Jay Boulware started kickoff coverage training this week.
"'Look guys, we can't get complacent because of that,'"Beamer recalls Boulware saying. "We've put in kickoff coverage for the first time and we'll get into some more live kicking situations as we go."
Redshirt freshman Gabe Brkic and and redshirt sophomores Stephen Johnson and Calum Sutherland are all three battling for spots on special teams. Of the unit, Brkic is the only one who's had time on the field in the regular season.
In 2018, Brkic registered three touchbacks in four kickoffs and an extra point in OU's season-opener against FAU. Coming out of high school, Brkic was Kohl's Kicking No. 7 kicker and No. 22 punter in the class of 2018.
On top of that, his size is noticeable, especially to Beamer. Seiber, although known for his powerful kicking, is measured at 5-foot-9. Brkic is 6-foot-2.
"(Brkic) definitely got size and he's got some athleticism," Beamer said. "Austin was a strong, yoked up guy as you guys know and Gabe is as well, he's just a little bit different body type for sure."
But despite Brkic's experience and size, Beamer insists it's a battle. Redshirt senior wide receiver Nick Basquine — along with working out with the wideouts — has spent the whole summer with specials teams, training as a punt returner, and says it's close.
"I've been seeing them work out almost every day. It's good. You can see they're battling," Basquine said. "But that's obviously going to make whoever wins whatever job better."