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Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Practice report: OU shuffles line

By Jake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon

Austin Woods
Austin Woods and the Oklahoma offensive line will have to shuffle again with the season-ending injury to Nila Kasitati.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Through four games, the depth of Oklahoma’s interior offensive line has taken a substantial hit. Reserve guard Nila Kasitati became the latest injury casualty, tearing his ACL last weekend at Texas Tech. The Sooners had previously lost starters Ben Habern and Tyler Evans to season-ending injuries during the preseason.

With Kasitati also now lost for the season, the Sooners will lean on Austin Woods and Ty Darlington for depth.

But offensive line coach James Patton said Tuesday that starting right tackle Daryl Williams could move to guard in a pinch. If that happened, the Sooners would probably move Lane Johnson from left to right tackle, and bring in Tyrus Thompson in at left tackle.

• Wide receiver Justin Brown played in some big games during his first three years in the Big Ten. He traveled twice to Ohio Stadium to face the Buckeyes. But because Penn State doesn’t have a true primary rival, this weekend will be Brown’s first taste of an upper-echelon rivalry game.

“I’m definitely excited for this,” Brown said. “Ever since I thought about coming down here people have been telling me about OU-Texas. Even in class, one of my classmates has been telling me, ‘Are you ready for this week?’”

Brown actually has been to the Cotton Bowl before. His Nittany Lions played in the TicketCity Bowl last season. Penn State lost to Houston, 30-14.

“There weren’t many people when we played,” Brown said. “I think it will be a full house this time.”

• Receiver Durron Neal saw his first extensive action of his career against Texas Tech. The true freshman finished with two catches for 38 yards. His 25-yard second quarter reception was the longest catch by a Sooners receiver on Saturday.

“I was excited but I was ready,” Neal said of his first extensive playing time. “This was a dream of mine to be one of the first people in my family to play college football. To get that first catch in a big game on ABC, I know my family was watching and to bring pride and excitement to my family name was a great thing.”

Neal said he wasn’t expecting to play that much but likely got thrown into the mix more with Trey Metoyer’s shoulder injury.

• Guard Bronson Irwin went into enemy territory on Sept. 29 when he attended the Oklahoma State-Texas game during the Sooners bye week. The junior sat near the Cowboys student section and was not recognized but took some precautions.

“I couldn’t root for either one, seeing that I’m not fond of either one,” Irwin said. “I was look at if as if I was watching tape. I wore a neutral color.”

Irwin, originally from Mustang, Okla., has some friends who attend OSU so he wanted to spend some time with them during his time off.

“It was fun being a spectator for once,” Irwin said. “In case I slipped up and said something controversial, I had already planned my escape route.”

• OU faced its biggest test of the season when it took on Texas Tech’s top-ranked defense this past weekend. The Sooners passed with flying colors with a 41-20 win over the Red Raiders as the offensive line played one of its best games of the season.

The Sooners face a much more athletic hurdle when they take on Texas on Saturday. The Longhorns present the most athletic defensive front OU has seen this season.

“It’s hard to argue that,” Irwin said. “They’re strong, physical, they’re big guys.”

Even with the Longhorns’ talented front, UT has given up 406 rushing yards to two running backs -- West Virginia’s Andrew Buie and OSU’s Joseph Randle -- in back-to-back games, so they can be run on.

Winning the battle up front could be the key as OU’s offensive line enters the game playing arguably its best football of the season.