The Norman Transcript

November 3, 2013

Green could see more playing time in Millard’s absence

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s had five practices to figure out how it will adjust to the absence of fullback Trey Millard. It wasn’t handing out any details Sunday night.

However, all indications are tight end Brannon Green’s playing time will increase Thursday night against Baylor.

“It’s going to be a combination of a bunch of different things. He’s going to go in and he’s going to play,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said.

In the previous two games against Kansas and Texas Tech, fullback Aaron Ripkowski had also been used more frequently. Heupel certainly wasn’t hinting his role will diminish Thursday.

All the Sooners have talked about in preparation for Baylor is the importance of long time-consuming drives — preferably for touchdown — will have in the game.

Ripkowski and Green are OU’s best blocking options that are not offensive linemen.

“We’re going to do some things that hopefully will give both of those guys an opportunity to be successful — I’m talking about Rip and Brannon,” Heupel said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to put 11 out there and they have to go out and execute.”

Fond memories: In two games against Baylor, OU quarterback Blake Bell has rushed for five touchdowns, including a 55-yard touchdown run that salted away last season’s 42-34 victory over the Bears. In 2011, Bell found the end zone four times on just five carries.

“I would say that game is probably the best the o-line has ever blocked,” Bell said. “I walked in a couple times. Obviously, the line did a great job blocking for me that game.”

Of course, OU also lost that 2011 meeting, 45-38, which marked the only time the Sooners have lost to the Bears.

Franks on the move: OU has moved junior Trey Franks back to wide receiver after spending the spring and the first six games working with the defensive backs.

“Just trying to squeeze everybody out of this roster, anybody that can help us in any way,” co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Jay Norvell said about the decision to move Franks back to offense. “Trey’s played a lot of football on offense. He played a lot at wideout and he wanted to try defense and he went and tried it and so we can use him over there and do some things. He’s played a lot of football. We looked back a couple of years ago at different games we were playing and he’s in there a bunch showing these young guys how to do it. He’s got some experience and he’s got another year left of those abilities. We’re just trying to use him some kind of way.”

If Franks does make a catch Thursday night against Baylor, it will be his first since 2011. But Franks does have 51 career receptions.

Could’ve been a Bear: One of the late editions to OU’s 2012 recruiting class was cornerback Zack Sanchez. The Keller, Texas, native was originally committed to Baylor, but flipped to OU late in the process.

Thursday will mark the first time the redshirt freshman will play against the Bears.

“It’s an hour from my house. I’m real close with a lot of the guys on their team. They’re basically like brothers to me. It was hard splitting from them. It was like a family,” Sanchez said.

But he says there’s no added emotion about playing the Bears.

“I don’t think it will be strange. I think it will be more of a challenge now, especially with the history we have,” Sanchez added.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn