The Norman Transcript

November 24, 2011

Stepping up to the line

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — With defensive end Ronnell Lewis expected to miss the final two regular-season games with a knee injury, there will be an obvious void at defensive end.

Junior David King is expected to jump into the starting spot with Frank Alexander. Also, junior R.J. Washington, who’s been playing in a four-man rotation at the two spots with Lewis, Alexander and King, is expected to play more snaps

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said redshirt freshman Chuka Ndulue is also expected to join that rotation against Iowa State on Saturday.

“Other guys have to step up. Other guys have played well,” Venables said. “Ronnell is a terrific player. He has a physical presence and a play-making ability that’s hard to duplicate. Other guys have to step up. They just have to be sound. No one has to be Superman, ever. Guys just need to play within the system and execute.”

Red zone leap

In the three games since OU started using redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Bell in short-yard situations, its red zone production has skyrocketed. The Sooners have scored touchdowns on 13 of its last 15 red zone trips and were 5-for-5 against Baylor. Nine of those touchdowns were running plays.

“It’s definitely something we prided ourselves on, and knew that we had to improve our running game in order to get better and try to win some games. Yeah, I think we improved,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “From game to game, I think our rush average has improved. With the ‘Belldozer’ and our wildcat offense, I think it’s helped our running game and something that’s a huge asset now.”

Meet the author

Wann Smith, author of “Wishgone: Oklahoma Football 1959-1985” will sign books from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Sam’s Club, 3400 W. Main Street in Norman.

A veteran journalist, Smith provides an in-depth account of Sooner football from the team’s final years under Bud Wilkinson through its remarkable turnaround under Barry Switzer. The book was published this year by the University of Oklahoma Press. The book’s foreword was written by Jay Wilkinson, coach Wilkinson’s son.