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August 27, 2013

Two OU defensive players suspended for season opener

NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops confirmed defensive lineman Chuka Ndulue and cornerback Cortez Johnson will miss the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe due to one-game suspensions.

Both pled guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from offseason arrests. Both were projected starters on the two-deep depth chart the Sooners released Monday.

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said redshirt freshman Zack Sanchez will start at the right cornerback spot. Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery is weighing options at defensive tackle in the wake of Ndulue’s absence.

“Certainly that limits our rotation a little bit and we have to go a little bit deeper this weekend than we normally would,” he said. “That’s OK. It gives someone else an opportunity.”

Whether or not that opportunity falls to junior college transfer defensive tackle Quincy Russell hasn’t been decided. He’s only been practicing a little more than a week. Thus far, the coaches have been impressed with Russell’s performance. He start against ULM, but Stoops expects him to be on the field quickly.

“I think he’s just growing into the position and understanding what we’re doing,” Stoops said. “I think it’s going to take a while, but I’m hopeful we can get him 20 to 30 snaps Saturday night.”

Running back race? OU hasn’t named a starting running back. The depth chart released Monday listed senior Brennan Clay or senior Damien Williams at the top spot with Roy Finch at No. 2.

“I like what all of them are doing. So, it’s hard to please everybody out there who wants to see all different guys all the time,” Stoops said. “But (running backs coach Cale) Gundy has a good idea of how he wants to play them. It’s fair to say all those guys, through a long game, or through a, hopefully, 80- to 85-snap game, are going to have to be in there and help each other.”

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