NORMAN — Oklahoma has suffered three major season-ending injuries through seven games. Fullback Trey Millard’s knee injury left him out along with linebacker Corey Nelson (pectoral tear) and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (back surgery).
There’s no doubt the injuries have hurt the Sooners. Millard and Nelson were senior captains and essential elements on their respective sides of the ball. Phillips was showing the potential to be OU’s best interior defensive lineman since Gerald McCoy.
Avoiding them is an essential for teams to get in and stay in the national championship race. But is there anything that can be truly done to avoid them?
OU coach Bob Stoops says no.
“Our trainers and doctors evaluate all our injuries. They’re always unusual in how they happen. Jordan has a back that’s genetic. I don’t know what kind of study would do anything there. Anterior cruciate ligaments are torn every week, from every team, including even Adrian Peterson, who probably trains better than anybody in the world,” he said. “So, they happen. That’s part of this game. I’m sure the NFL is as meticulous and detailed and trained as they can be, they seem to have a whole bunch of them. Can’t keep a quarterback in the game. It’s just part of playing football.”
But this season has been more crippling than others. Every season OU has to do without starters for certain stretches. Due to pulled muscles, ligament sprains and even concussions.
The impact of the injuries OU has dealt with can be seen before the opening kickoff. When the season began, it had six team captains. The injuries to Nelson and Millard have dropped it down to four.
The replacement for Nelson has been true freshman Dominique Alexander. Redshirt freshman Jordan Wade has taken over Phillips’ defensive tackle spot.