The Norman Transcript

Sports

September 1, 2013

Linebackers take center stage

NORMAN — Oklahoma coaches have been mum on any sort of changes they were making going into the season. However, one they said would occur came to fruition. The Sooners did have a linebacker on the field for every play in the 34-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe, and the group produced.

Weakside linebacker Corey Nelson led the Sooners with eight tackles, including a sack. Middle linebacker Frank Shannon added seven stops. The tandem combined for three of OU’s four tackles for loss.

“I thought they were great — Corey and Frank,” OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “It’s nice to see our two leading tacklers as the linebackers. I think that’s a good indication. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’m happy for both of those guys. They played hard and prepared well and really played good football.”

Limited mobility: Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning was not a factor in the running game. He led the Warhawks in rushing last season, but finished with just three yards on four carries Saturday.

Browning said a first-quarter leg injury limited what he could do.

“I tried to scramble one time and my leg just wasn’t quite cooperating with me,” he said. “I didn’t get the burst I wanted to get running away from them. It got tighter and tighter over the game and it was tough to loosen up. It really cut out part of my game, which hurt me, hurt the offense.

The Warhawks rushed for just 38 yards.

Sticking with Knight: Despite Trevor Knight’s early struggles, there was no indication OU thought about turning to Blake Bell as quarterback. Bell never even put on his helmet until the second half.

“I don’t think anybody was going to hit the panic button. I think that’s one of the positives that came out of it,” OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “Trevor didn’t have everything go right early, but we didn’t hit the panic button. Offensively, the guys around him didn’t hit it, the coaching staff didn’t. We just continued to play ball.”

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