Practice Report: McGee's return helps D-line

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
8:26
PM ET
THE PLAYING STATUS OF Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis remains uncertain, though he tweeted Monday that he would not play this week.

Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Monday that he “does not expect” the senior linebacker to play when OU meets Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium at 7 p.m. CT on ABC. But he didn’t completely rule out Lewis making an appearance in the game after suffering a foot injury in early August that was expected to keep him out of action for eight weeks.

“He’s doing some stuff trying to see how it feels,” Stoops said. “I do not expect him to play.”

It has been roughly six weeks (33 days) since Lewis’ injury was announced by OU. He has been constantly evaluated by the Oklahoma training staff and could be on track to return to the lineup in the near future.

If Lewis was able to return at full strength against FSU, or even at home against Missouri on Sept. 24, it would be a huge boost to the Sooners’ defense. The unquestioned leader of the defense, Lewis had 109 tackles and three interceptions in 2010 and has recorded 343 stops and eight interceptions during his career.

His vocal leadership and athleticism would be a huge help in the hostile road environment waiting for OU at Doak Campbell.

THE OU DEFENSE WILL get a nice boost on Saturday when defensive tackle Stacy McGee returns to action. The junior missed OU’s 47-14 win over Tulsa on Sept. 3 due to suspension.

“He’ll add a lot,” Stoops said. “It’s fair to say a year ago he was our best guy, and through camp he’s been our best player. It will be good to have him back in there. It will give us a boost.”

A state champion wrestler in high school, McGee has the quickness, athleticism and leverage to make an immediate impression on the Sooners’ defense while providing depth at defensive tackle against the Seminoles.

“He’s a proven guy, he’s athletic and explosive,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “It definitely helps [to get him back].”

GAMES WITH NATIONAL TITLE implications often are decided by turnovers.

OU consistently ranks among the nation’s best in turnover margin, even leading the country in that category in 2008 (plus-1.64). But the Sooners aren’t putting any additional emphasis on turnovers this week than they have in any other matchup.

“They’re the biggest statistic between determining winning and losing,” Venables said. “That’s always been our philosophy and [this week] it’s no different. It was a big factor a year ago when we played them, this year will be no different.”

The Sooners forced three turnovers in OU’s 47-17 win over Florida State in 2010 as Lewis and cornerback Jamell Fleming each intercepted FSU quarterback Christian Ponder in the victory.

If OU can force a turnover and get an early lead, the Sooners could take the Doak Campbell crowd out of the game before it gets too rowdy.

JUNIOR RUNNING BACK JERMIE CALHOUN has decided to transfer from Oklahoma after the semester, Stoops announced after practice.

Calhoun is the second running back to leave the team this year after Jonathon Miller announced he would transfer last week.

Calhoun was the No. 1 running back and the No. 7 player overall on the ESPNU 150 in 2008. He carried the ball only 56 times (242 yards) in his OU career.

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