The Norman Transcript

October 9, 2012

Injury and recovery

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — On the injury front, Oklahoma received good and bad news Monday. Defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland suffered a bruised quadriceps against Texas Tech, but practiced on Monday and will play against Texas.

The bad news was offensive lineman Nila Kasitati suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and will miss the rest of the season.

“I feel bad for Nila,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “He’s really been coming on, and it’s just unfortunate. Just one of those twists. Just makes it more thin in there.”

OU’s offensive line is extremely thin heading into Saturday’s game against Texas.

Kasitati wasn’t a starter, but he was rotating at both guard spots with starters Bronson Irwin and Adam Shead. Austin Woods, who just completed his final radiation treatment for Hodgkin’s disease last week, was the only other guard listed on the Sooners’ two-deep depth chart on Monday.

Wort is still the starter: Middle linebacker Tom Wort alternated at middle linebacker with redshirt freshman Frank Shannon against Texas Tech. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said that was because Shannon matched up better in pass coverage. Wort remains the starter at the spot, but Shannon will get more snaps with the first team this week.

“Frank played exceptionally well and certainly continues to earn more playing time. But as of right now, Tom’s our starter,” Stoops said. “We just want to bring Frank along and continue to give him more snaps.”

Stoops believes Wort will match match up better against the Longhorns.

“He’s built for more downhill. He’s a big, physical middle linebacker,” Stoops said of Wort. “We’re going to see a big part of that in this week’s preparation, too. Texas is gonna try to run at you. They’re gonna try to wear you down too. I think that’s right up Tom’s alley as well.”

Walker puts rumors to rest: Defensive tackle Casey Walker spoke to reporters for the first time since August on Monday. The senior defensive tackle missed the first two games for an undisclosed reason and rumors swirled that he was considering giving up football in early September. Walker, who has started the last two games, did not say why he missed those games.

But Walker was adamant that he never considered quitting football.

“Never. I never questioned giving up football. Just personal issues,” he said. “Nothing wrong. But that’s kinda in the past.”

Expect the unexpected: Wide receiver Kenny Stills said game planning for Texas is tough. It always has wrinkles they haven’t shown in their previous games.

“I don’t know. I really don’t know,” he said. “I kind of expect the unexpected with them. Last year they showed us stuff we’d never seen before — different blitzes and difference coverages. I don’t really know what they’re gonna do, but I feel like we do a good job of adjusting.”

Third-down defense must improve: OU is currently 51st in the country in third-down defense. They’ve allowed first downs on 22 of 61 attempts (36.07 percent).

“It’s definitely a concern,” defensive end R.J. Washington said. “Kansas State, these last couple of games, they’ve been getting a lot of third-down conversions on us, which is never a good thing. I think it’s just tightening up the screws more and more and just keep working on the little things, getting even better from last week.”

Texas Tech converted 9 of 15 third downs. Texas’ offense is currently No. 2 in the country at converting third downs. It’s 43-for-74 (58.11 percent) on the season.

Kansas game time set: OU’s Oct. 20 game against Kansas at Owen Field will kickoff at 6 p.m. and will be televised by Fox Sports Net.

John ShinnFollow me @john_shinnjshinn@normantranscript.com

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.