By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — By his own estimation, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops thought 16 returning or projected starters were not in uniform for Saturday’s Red-White Game.
Most of those decisions were precautionary. No sense in making nagging injuries worse by playing in a glorified scrimmage.
The situation could’ve been worse. Defensive end/linebacker Geneo Grissom suffered a sprained MCL and freshman fullback Dimitri Flowers, who had four catches for 40 yards, hyperextended a knee in the second half.
“He’ll be in a brace for six weeks. He should be able to start once we get back in June with no operation,” Stoops said of Grissom’s injury. “Dimitri had a hyperextension and didn’t show any ligament damage. Fortunately that’s the case. That’s always the downside that can bother you in a spring game, to lose somebody. Fortunately, we got away with it and everybody should be set to start back when we do our primary conditioning and strength and speed training in June.”
As it stands, OU does not have any players in need of surgery as it heads into the fall.
Where was Shannon? Middle linebacker Frank Shannon was not in uniform or on the sideline on Saturday.
“Frank, right now, is working on some personal issues, so we’ll wait and see on that,” OU coach Bob Stoops said.
Shannon was not at the open portion of Thursday’s practice. However, he remains on the roster. Shannon, who will be a junior next season, started all 13 games last season. He finished the year with 92 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Big day for Evans: Without Shannon, Jordan Evans is OU’s middle linebacker. There didn’t appear to be any drop off with Evans out there Saturday.
Evans had three tackles and a pass breakup. His hit on K.J. Young that forced the first interception of the day was the play of the game.
Evans said he hasn’t thought about becoming OU’s starting middle linebacker, but Saturday he made the most of the chance.
“Opportunities always come and you’ve always got to be ready for opportunities but when opportunities come, you need to take advantage of them,” he said.
Tight ends come out of hibernation: Tight end Taylor McNamara had two touchdown catches. Junior college transfer Isaac Ijalana had a 17-yard catch and Conner Knight, the twin brother of OU quarterback Trevor Knight, had one catch for 7 yards.
In one afternoon, the Sooners’ tight ends had more passing game production than all of last season.
“It’s a position we want to keep in the mix and keep on the field. I think we proved ourselves a little bit today,” McNamara said.
Take a bow: OU linebacker Eric Striker bowed to the crowd after his second sack of the day.
“I was just running around and having fun. There was nothing else to it,” Striker said.
Striker joked he had to come up with something other than taking his helmet off after a sack. He did that in the Sugar Bowl, but, surprisingly, was not penalized.
Mayfield impresses: Quarterback Baker Mayfield cannot play until the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Nonetheless, he did make the most of Saturday’s scrimmage, throwing for two touchdowns and completing 9 of 9 attempts.
He won’t get to play in front of a crowd again until the 2015 spring game.
“I was trying to make it like a game-time experience for myself so that I’ll have that thought and mentality for the next time I have that experience,” he said. “It’s just trying to compare it and use it for the next one. I felt I did well, but there’s definitely stuff I need to work on. I’m patient enough. I think I’ll be okay. It’ll be rough, but I’ll get through it.”
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