Oklahoma free safety Tony Jefferson took every snap of Monday’s practice and is expected to play Saturday against Kansas State, head coach Bob Stoops said.
“No more questions about Tony, OK?” Stoops said.
Jefferson suffered a sprained ankle on Sept. 8 against Florida A&M, and sat out practice last week during the Sooners’ open date. His return is a huge boost for an OU defense facing its first true test of the season. The Wildcats are 13th in the country in scoring offense, averaging 46 points per game.
Jefferson was instrumental in the Sooners’ 58-17 dismantling of K-State last season, finishing with a team-high six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
“I think both of them will get the opportunity to play at little bit at the SAM linebacker position,” linebackers coach Tim Kish said.
The Sooners won’t alter their defense but the Wildcats personnel decisions are likely to put Ibiloye and Franklin on the field more often then they have been in OU’s first two games.
“In their two-back sets, we’ll use a SAM linebacker so we’ll be in our traditional 4-3 look,” linebackers coach Tim Kish said. “When they go to one-back, it’ll be a nickel package, similar to what we’ve done in the past.”
Rotating Ibiloye and Franklin early in the contest might be the ideal scenario for the OU defense since neither player played extensive snaps against Florida A&M or UTEP. It would allow both players to get comfortable early in the game and keep both players fresh for the fourth quarter when the Wildcats running game could begin to take its toll if it’s a close contest.
• OU tends to play extremely well against ranked teams at Owen Field, often blowing them out, and has never lost to a ranked team at home under Bob Stoops. The Sooners have won 13 of those 14 games by double digits.
Linebacker Corey Nelson believes it is because the Sooners take their game to another level when a nationally-ranked squad visits Norman.
“It’s just a different mindset when you go against ranked teams,” Nelson said. “We just have a hunger to be better than a ranked team because we know they’re going to give us the best they’ve got, so we have to give them the best we’ve got.
“It creates a higher intensity level.”
The Sooners will have to be intense and physical against the Wildcats but they’ll also have to be focused. K-State is detailed and sound with its offensive execution, so one step in the wrong direction can be fatal.
• With Casey Walker’s return, the Sooners are feeling the best they have about their defensive line rotation this season. OU is expected to still be without suspended defensive tackle Stacy McGee. But with Walker back, David King has been able to return to his natural position, defensive end.
“Casey gives us that big body that we didn’t have with me in there,” said King, who started two games while Walker was away from the team dealing with a personal matter.
The starting defensive line figures to be Walker and Jamarkus McFarland at tackle, with King and R.J. Washington at end. King could still play inside on occasion, in which Chuka Ndulue would come in at end. Ndulue started the first two games while King was at tackle.
• Wort has been very impressed with K-State QB Collin Klein’s improved passing this season. Klein is completing almost 73 percent of his passes, a massive improvement over last year’s 57.3 percent.
“He’s throwing the ball real good,” Wort said. “That’s something we didn’t really face last year against him. It makes you play it straight.”
Wort went on to say he respects the hard-running quarterback as much as anyone in the Big 12.
“I have a lot of respect for Klein,” Wort said, “because of the way he plays.”