NORMAN, Okla. -- Another day, another Oklahoma offensive lineman goes down. Bob Stoops confirmed Monday after practice that guard Tyler Evans suffered a significant knee injury. Evans is getting an MRI today, and Stoops said could have torn a ligament.
Evans has been a solid performer since winning a starting job his freshman year, with 29 career starts. According to Stoops, Evans injured the knee on the first day of practice.
Senior guard Tyler Evans is having an MRI on on his knee today.
One week after losing Ben Habern to a career-ending neck injury, the Sooners are without another significant cog on the line. Bronson Irwin, whom the Sooners coaches have praised the last two weeks, steps into a starting job at right guard. Irwin has filled a reserve role the last two seasons, but really impressed the staff with his work in the offseason. With Gabe Ikard sliding to center to replace Habern, sophomore Adam Shead is in the starting lineup at left guard.
The Sooners also might lose another offensive lineman in guard John Michael McGee. McGee was given the day off Monday to reflect on whether he wants to stay part of the team. McGee tweeted several times Monday morning, suggesting he was going back home to Texarkana.
Cale Gundy said he has had a chance to watch the newcomers catch punts. Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal could help there. Gundy, who runs OU's punt return units, expects them to make an impact at some point during their careers, but does that mean we should expect to see them back there in El Paso?
The wildcard is Justin Brown. He's a veteran returner and it's a skill he can step right in and help immediately (i.e. no learning curve within the system). I'd expect Brown to handle most of the return duties with Shepard and Neal providing depth at the position. Regardless, the Sooners return game could take a step up.
Guard Adam Shead said the Sooners don't feel snakebitten with the injuries up front. It's a next-man-up mentality and OU will move forward with the same expectations. In a matter of days, Shead has gone from possible starter to the anchor of the Sooners guard position.
Running back Brennan Clay is really excited about adding Damien Williams to OU's RB corps. Williams played at a rival high school in San Diego, so Clay knows his talent better than most.
Gundy, the Sooners running backs coach, also had high praise for Williams and said the junior college transfer has a good chance to earn some touches this season.
Clay also had glowing words for running back Alex Ross, whom he says is displaying great speed. Don't be surprised if Ross plays his way out of a redshirt season, particularly if he proves he can contribute on special teams. Ross' size and speed ratio is hard to find, so expect OU to take advantage of his unique skill set.
OL coach James Patton said Austin Woods has only five chemotherapy treatments left. Woods, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the spring, practiced Monday, and went to a treatment in the afternoon. Stoops called Woods “incredible.”
RB Roy Finch has been getting a lot of time in the slot. Stoops acknowledged that Finch is a special player who could really shine in the slot on screens and quick underneath passes. The Sooners already have Dom Whaley and Brennan Clay working 1-2 in the backfield.