Defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland was back on the practice field Monday, despite sitting out most of Saturday’s game at Texas Tech with a bruise to his quad.
“He put a hat on it,” McFarland said. “Right above the knee. Nothing but bruises on the muscles. They were being cautious. We were doing good with the guys in the middle that were in so there was no reason to go back in.”
McFarland has taken plenty of grief for the play that knocked him out of the game. After intercepting a tipped screen pass, McFarland barreled to his right with the end zone in sight. But before he got there, Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege planted his helmet into McFarland’s knee, forcing McFarland to fumble the ball back to the Red Raiders.
That the quarterback forced the fumble is “what hurt the most,” said McFarland, who endured razzing from his defensive line teammates during the film review.
“We watched that play at least eight times,” he said. “Slow mo, everything, jokes from each player.
“I was thinking touchdown. I was even more hurt when I found out I was on the four-yard line. I guess it looked like I was trying to dive into the end zone or something.”
" McFarland will play in his last Red River Rivalry against Texas on Saturday. And he has the key to earning the win.
“Win the first and fourth quarter, that’s the main thing,” he said. “Jump out on them and finish strong.”
The Sooners started strong against Texas Tech in their 41-20 win last Saturday and started strong in last year’s Red River Rivalry before cruising to a 55-17 win. Starting strong is a major key for OU as the Sooners look to force the Longhorns to throw the ball on Saturday.
" Fellow defensive tackle Casey Walker spoke with the media for the first time since returning to the team two weeks ago. Walker was away from the squad for two games while dealing with a personal issue.
“It feels good. Feels real good,” he said. “It hurt because I see my brothers out there by there themselves. Jamarkus and David [King] by themselves. Them being out there the whole game without the whole rotation, that kinda hurt me. It was like leaving your brother solo in the world.”
Walker said rumors that he contemplated giving up football were untrue.
“Never. I never questioned giving up football. Just personal issues,” he said. “Nothing wrong. But that’s kinda in the past.”
" Safety Javon Harris likes these type of games. The Longhorns will come in looking to run the ball and be physical with a rushing attack that averages 209 rushing yards per game and features sophomore Joe Bergeron and freshman Johnathan Gray.
“We have to stop the run,” Harris said. “That’s what the game is going to come down to. Tackling and being physical.”
It will be particularly critical this weekend as OU looks to force Texas quarterback David Ash to throw the ball more than 27.6 times, the average number of times he has passed per game this season.
“If teams can’t run the ball, you make them one-dimensional,” senior defensive end David King said.
" King had this response when asked about people saying the Sooners' defense was soft.
“I don’t think we’re soft,” the senior said. “People are entitled to their opinions. I think we’re pretty solid up front.”
OU’s defensive interior has taken a lot of heat since the Sooners allowed Kansas State to rush for 233 yards in their 24-19 loss on Sept. 22.
" King, one of five captains on this year’s squad, was happy with the way the Sooners responded after their disappointing loss to the Wildcats.
“I’m proud of the guys,” he said. “I called them out every day, ‘Are we going to respond or are we going to fold?’
“We went down to Tech and gave it to them for four quarters, we were better than them on that day and I’m proud of the guys, especially some of the young guys.”
King was especially impressed with the play of middle linebacker Frank Shannon and the Sooners' young secondary players who were pressed into action.
" Defense coordinator Mike Stoops said it’s clear that Ash is improved from his true freshman season.
“Any system where you’re in the second year, things start to slow down,” Stoops said. “As much movement going on in that offense, hard for any player to adjust to in his first year.”
Ash is completing 77.5 percent of his passes this season and has thrown for 1,276 yards. He also has 11 touchdowns to just a single interception.
“You can see he’s much more aware of what they’re trying to accomplish and playing with a lot of confidence,” Stoops said.
“They’re a very complete offense, more so than any last year.”
" Bob Stoops confirmed that guard Nila Kasitati is out for the season with a torn ACL. He's the third interior offensive lineman to suffer a season-ending injury this season along with Tyler Evans and Ben Habern. The Sooners will ask Austin Woods and true freshman Ty Darlington to step up in Kasitati's absence.
" Freshman wide receiver Trey Metoyer was wearing a no-contact blue jersey during Monday's practice. Metoyer is dealing with a minor shoulder injury he suffered in Lubbock.