The Norman Transcript

November 3, 2013

OU faces uncertainty at linebacker

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma expects middle linebacker Frank Shannon to play Thursday against Baylor. The sophomore has a “deep tissue bruise,” according to Sooner coach Bob Stoops in the Oct. 26 game against Texas Tech. However, he did return to practice Saturday.

But if something changes, freshman Jordan Evans will be the man in the middle of the Sooners defense.

Evans, the former Norman North standout, had eight tackles and broke up a pass against the Red Raiders.

“I went into the game with the mindset that I have to stay prepared, because I’m right behind Frank, and we had a win, so actually, I didn’t do too bad,” Evans said. “But what really made me know that I did actually OK was how my teammates treated me and how the coaches said I did. So I was actually really proud of my effort but there’s always room to improve.”

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said Saturday that Evans has a very bright future because the 6-foot-3, 216-pound freshman has the athletic ability that’s essential to play against spread offenses.

“He can run. He has great speed. He’s going to be a great player. It just has to develop physically. But athletically, he’s what you want,” Stoops said. “In a year’s period of time, he’s just scratching the surface a lot like Dominique. I don’t see anything on the football field that he can’t do for us long term and be a great football player. He’s showed great signs of that playing his first game and meaningful minutes.”

Environmental test: Baylor has announced it is removing the tarp from Floyd Casey Stadium’s east end zone in order to sell more tickets to Thursday’s game.

There have never been more than 46,000 in attendance for an OU-Baylor game in Waco, Texas, but the Bears are expecting the crowd Thursday to reach the record of 51,385 Thursday night.

“We can’t worry about that,” cornerback Aaron Colvin said. “We’ve played in tough environments before — Missouri, Florida State, Notre Dame was a big-time game. We’ve been in these situations before.”

Most of OU’s games at Baylor typically feature thousands of Sooners fans in attendance. Colvin hopes that trend continues Thursday.

“I think they will,” he said when asked if a healthy contingent of Sooner fans will be at Thursday’s game. “Our fans have been so supportive this year. We had tons of fans at Notre Dame and that was a long flight. I’m definitely thinking our fans will show up and we appreciate them.”

Bullseye: Texas Tech went after OU cornerback Zack Sanchez last week and found some success. Sanchez even Tweeted after the game how disappointed he was in his play.

But he doesn’t believe his struggles last week will give Baylor pause.

“I don’t think Baylor cares who you are. They’re gonna test you regardless,” he said. “But it’s just up to me to be ready for the challenge. I mean, I know it’s coming, especially with the history. I’ve got it in my head that they’re probably going to take extra shots at me. But it’s something you’ve got to be prepared for and something I’m excited about it.”

Been a while: The Baylor game will be OU’s regular-season game on a day other than Saturday since 2007. The last time was OU’s 2007 game at Tulsa, which was played on a Friday.

The Sooners haven’t played on a Thursday since the 1992 season opener at Texas Tech.

Most of OU’s players had a few high school games on Thursday night. OU safety Quentin Hayes said there were Thursday games in hometown of Lancaster, Texas, but not at the varsity level.

“Not since JV,” he said Saturday when asked when was the last time he played on a Thursday night. “Since my freshman year of high school, that’s the last time I played on Thursday.”

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn