Oklahoma Sooners: Stacy McGee

Simon, Anderson no longer on OU team

February, 17, 2013
UPDATE: An OU spokesperson confirms junior defensive tackle Damon Williams is no longer on the team, as well.

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma will be transitioning to three new assistant coaches this spring. The Sooners will also have to make do with just four scholarship cornerbacks and possibly as few as three scholarship defensive tackles during the spring, as well.

An OU spokesperson confirmed Sunday night that cornerback Gary Simon and defensive tackle Marquis Anderson are no longer with the squad.

That leaves the Sooners with only returning starter Aaron Colvin, Cortez Johnson and Zack Sanchez and Kass Everett at cornerback; and just Jordan Phillips, Jordan Wade and Torrea Peterson at defensive tackle.

OU was hoping to add junior-college tackle Quincy Russell in January. Russell, however, still has academic work to complete before he can enroll. Of OU’s three returning defensive tackles, only Phillips saw even spot duty last season.

The Sooners signed three high school defensive tackles earlier this month, as well. But one of those, Kerrick Huggins, has yet to qualify and doubled-signed with Trinity Valley Community College in case he doesn’t make it Norman.

Coach Bob Stoops showed he hasn’t been happy lately with OU’s production or recruiting at defensive tackle, and fired his longtime defensive tackles coach, Jackie Shipp, last week. Last season, the Sooners ranked 94th in run defense and 108th in tackles for loss.

OU also lost its top three defensive tackles -- Casey Walker, Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee -- to graduation.

The Sooners face transition in the secondary, as well. Three of five starters are gone, and Simon was expected to challenge Johnson for the starting job at corner opposite Colvin.
Oklahoma saw the Landry Jones Era end in unspectacular fashion on Friday night, with a 41-13 loss to ex-Big 12 rival Texas A&M. Jones is done, and the defense showed it needed some work under Mike Stoops for 2013, but that job just got a little bit tougher.

Colleague Joe Schad cited a source who told him safety Tony Jefferson and receiver Kenny Stills would be leaving early to enter the NFL draft.

Jones is obviously the Sooners' biggest loss, but Jefferson's one of the defense's most talented members, and cornerback Aaron Colvin still has a draft decision to make. The transition to Jones' successor (Blake Bell, Drew Allen or scout team standout Trevor Knight?) gets a little rougher without an experienced receiver like Stills to smooth it over, too.

Oklahoma, though, will have a very tall order to try and restore a defense that struggled down the stretch after giving up 49 points to West Virginia and 48 to Oklahoma State, which was playing Clint Chelf, who began the season as the team's No. 3 quarterback.

Defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland, Stacy McGee and Casey Walker are all gone, as is star defensive end David King. Safety Javon Harris, the Sooners' biggest standout in the Cotton Bowl loss, ended his career on Friday, as did cornerback Demontre Hurst.

Point is, if Oklahoma's going to fix its defense, it will have to do so without experience. That's difficult in any league, but especially so in the Big 12, where the only thing faster than the receivers is the rate at which offenses evolve and become more difficult to stop.

Expect the Sooners' spring depth chart to look a little crazy and be very fluid throughout spring practice, but without Jefferson and Stills, both sides of the ball will be moving on to 2013 without their most talented pieces.

Roundtable: Most to prove in Cotton Bowl 

December, 27, 2012
Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Which Sooner has the most to prove going into the Cotton Bowl?

[+] EnlargeJordan Phillips
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesFreshman defensive tackle Jordan Phillips could be one of OU's starting defensive tackles in 2013.
• With Stacy McGee likely suspended for the Cotton Bowl, the future of the defensive tackle position at Oklahoma figures to get his chance. Freshman Jordan Phillips has played sparingly this season, but he'll be the returning defensive tackle with the most experience next season. Phillips has shown flashes, but only that. If the Sooners are going to be a contender next season, Phillips has to prove that he can anchor what otherwise will be a young and inexperienced defensive tackle rotation. Some big plays in the Cotton Bowl will give him some much needed confidence and momentum going into the offseason.

OU position grades: Defensive tackles 

December, 24, 2012
In the weeks leading up to the Cotton Bowl, SoonerNation will take a look back at how the Sooners performed position-by-position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we examine the defensive tackle position.

GradeHighlights: The defensive tackle trio of Casey Walker, Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee was dominant through October wins over Texas Tech, Texas and Kansas. Walker capped off the streak with a 45-yard fumble return in the rout of the Jayhawks. Over that stretch, Tech managed 89 yards on 32 carries; Texas, 74 yards on 23 carries; and Kansas, 185 yards, but on 58 carries.

Lowlights: Before the October stretch, the tackles struggled in the 24-19 loss to Kansas State, which prompted Barry Switzer among others to call out the position publicly. Late in the season, the OU defensive tackles were pretty average, too. Notre Dame, West Virginia and Oklahoma State did wanted they wanted to on the ground, and OU couldn’t get pressure on opposing quarterbacks without bringing the house.

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Sooners get depth boost with DT Russell 

December, 19, 2012
It appears to be the perfect fit.

Quincy Russell
Courtesy of Trinity Valley Community CollegeQuincy Russell could play immediately for the Sooners in 2013.
Three-star defensive tackle Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley) decided to sign with Oklahoma on Wednesday, picking the Sooners over Nebraska. The defensive tackle prospect had offers from OU, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor and others.

With Russell’s choice, the Sooners get a much-needed defensive tackle recruit and Russell gets the opportunity to make an immediate impact in a program that competes for championships every year. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

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Huggins a sign of things to come for OU? 

December, 14, 2012


Oklahoma fans breathed a sigh of relief on Friday when the Sooners secured the commitment of Dallas Skyline defensive tackle Kerrick Huggins. The three-star prospect decommitted from Texas A&M before choosing the Sooners over the Aggies, Texas Tech, Colorado State, SMU and others.

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Roundtable: Biggest hole on defense? 

December, 13, 2012
Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Which graduating Sooner leaves the biggest hole for Oklahoma to fill on defense in 2013?

[+] EnlargeSkye Dawson, Demontre Hurst
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireSooners cornerback Demontre Hurst has been a three-year starter.
• One of the reasons that Oklahoma was so good against the pass this season was its cornerback tandem. Aaron Colvin was the star of this duo, earning All-Big 12 honors. But Demontre Hurst also provided standout coverage. In the last three years, the Sooners have never had to worry about the steady, durable Hurst or his position. That changes in the spring. Gary Simon has potential and Cortez Johnson has experience from Arizona. But neither is the player yet that Hurst has proved to be.

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Five Sooners to watch in bowl practices 

December, 5, 2012
Bowl practices can be a critical time for any football program. It’s an opportunity for young players to show how they’ve improved during the season and set themselves up in integral roles on the offense or defense heading into the spring while the veterans recover from a physical schedule.

Here’s a look at five young players at Oklahoma who could use bowl practices as a springboard to a bigger role for the Sooners in 2013.

[+] EnlargeTrey Metoyer
Richard Rowe/US PresswireTrey Metoyer began the season as a starter for the Sooners and finished with 17 catches for 148 yards.
Receiver Trey Metoyer

It’s important Metoyer understands he is still a big part of OU’s offensive plans in the future and that starts with these bowl practices. With Justin Brown leaving and Kenny Stills potentially declaring for the NFL draft, the Sooners will need Metoyer to emerge as a quality target as a sophomore.

With the Sooners looking at playing without Jalen Saunders after his recent arrest, Metoyer could be asked to play a bigger role in the offense during the Cotton Bowl. Metoyer began the season as a starter but his youth and inexperience showed at times during his freshman season.

Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips

Phillips’ development is one of the most critical concerns for the Sooners heading into 2013 with their top three defensive tackles -- seniors Jamarkus McFarland, Stacy McGee and Casey Walker -- leaving the program after the Cotton Bowl.

The redshirt freshman has great size (6-foot-6, 316 pounds) and has seen more playing time as the season has progressed, recording 12 tackles. He’s had his moments when he’s played well but he’s far from a finished product. And the Sooners will desperately need him to play like one in 2013.

Cornerback Gary Simon

Senior Demontre Hurst has played as well as anyone on OU’s defense in 2012 and will be a big loss when he moves on after the Cotton Bowl. And junior Aaron Colvin could decide to test NFL waters. Therefore, Simon’s progress is important for OU’s defense.

The true freshman has seen limited playing time in blowout wins this season, so the bowl practices could be a opportunity for him to see some time with the No. 1 defense against the No. 1 offense. Simon impressed in the preseason and has the physical traits to be an impact player, he just needs the experience.

Defensive end Geneo Grissom

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Playing inside hasn’t been easy for David King.

The senior defensive end moved to defensive tackle for Oklahoma’s first two games this season after Casey Walker was out due to personal issues and Stacy McGee was suspended indefinitely.

King feels undersized for the position and admitted he was “knocked off the ball” a couple of times against UTEP. It’s been a major adjustment for him to move inside.

“It’s a war,” King said. “You have to worry about the guy in front of you and worry about the tackle coming down on you. IT’s the most physically demanding position on the field.”

King has played well early for OU, however. He has five tackles, two quarterback hurries and one sack this season.
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.

[+] EnlargeCollin Klein
Scott Sewell/US PresswireKansas State quarterback Collin Klein ran for 92 yards last year against the Sooners, but he has improved his accuracy throwing the ball this season.
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.

Joseph Ibiloye and Aaron Franklin are likely to see more playing time this week with the power-running Wildcats in town.

“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.”

Ibiloye or Franklin will join Tom Wort and Corey Nelson as the Sooners linebackers in the 4-3 defense while nickelback Gabe Lynn will replace the duo in one-back situations.

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.

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Oklahoma usually rotates its players along the defensive line but off-the-field issues have made that a difficult proposition in the Sooners first two games. Senior defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland has seen extensive time on the field against UTEP and Florida A&M.

“It’s way different than looking to the sideline to see if he might throw someone in,” McFarland said. “When you know you’re going to be out there, you aren’t always looking over there, worried that you’re going to come out. You just have to buckle down and play.”

McFarland and David King have played the majority of the snaps at defensive tackle with Jordan Phillips and Marquis Anderson subbing in late in both games.

Senior Stacy McGee is serving a suspension and is unavailable and fellow senior Casey Walker missed the first two games due to personal issues. Both players were expected to be core members of the Sooners defensive interior this season. Walker will return against Kansas State but there is no announced timetable for McGee’s return.

Oklahoma redshirt plan coming into focus 

September, 11, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- Through two games, the Sooners have played nine true freshmen: wide receivers Trey Metoyer, Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal, tight end Taylor McNamara, center Ty Darlington, defensive ends Mike Onuoha and Charles Tapper, linebacker Eric Striker and cornerback Gary Simon. With the cupcake portion of the schedule over and one with, it appears the rest of the true freshmen will redshirt this season.

SoonerNation breaks down the rest of the freshman class, from those most likely to least likely to make an impact in 2013:

[+] EnlargeTrey Metoyer
Richard Rowe/US PresswireReceiver Trey Metoyer is one of nine true freshmen who have played this season for the Sooners.
1. Alex Ross, running back: The Sooners could have an opening in the backfield for Ross with Dominique Whaley due to graduate. Damien Williams figures to be projected starter, and then there’s Brennan Clay and Roy Finch. But Ross nearly avoided this redshirt this season with an even more crowded backfield. Ross’ future is bright.

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As expected, the Sooners welcomed back defensive tackle Casey Walker to practice on Monday. Walker had left the team for two weeks because of a personal issue and did not suit up in either of OU’s first two games.

“He wasn’t as winded as he thought he’d be,” teammate David King said of Walker, who was running extra sprints after practice.

[+] EnlargeDavid King
AP Photo/Mark LambieDavid King, bottom, will return to defensive end after starting two games at defensive tackle.
With Walker back, David King, who had been moved to tackle and started there in Walker’s absence, worked exclusively at defensive end Monday. Walker reassumed his starting position at the nose guard, and Jamarkus McFarland, who had been starting at nose guard, slid over to the three technique -- where Stacy McGee was starting before his preseason suspension.

The likely starting front four against Kansas State in two weeks will be King and R.J. Washington at defensive end, McFarland at the three technique, and Walker at nose guard.

“The more size you’ve got where you can hold your ground at the line of scrimmage and they don’t get any push and not able to mash you – that’s what you like to have,” said defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright.

Walker’s return means the Sooners will no longer be undersized on the defensive line. And that’s especially huge against a team like Kansas State that is sure to test OU’s mettle in the trenches.

• With King back at defensive end, Chuka Ndulue, who started OU’s first two games, likely will return to a reserve role along with sophomore Rashod Favors. Wright indicated that’s the foursome he’s going to play over the next few games, as true freshmen Mike Onuoha and Charles Tapper continue to develop.

“They’re not ready to play at this caliber yet,” Wright said. “Hopefully they will be by midseason. Hopefully they’ll be to the point where we get four, five, six games into the season, they come along and see what the speed of the game is, how much faster it is, how much more physical it is. There’s a heck of a transition there.

“They’re mature kids. But they’re not mature football players. There’s a growth process they have to go through before they’re ready to take on somebody like Kansas State.”

• Safety Jesse Paulsen got one of the best calls of his life this summer.

“I was back home training,” Paulsen said of the phone call. “Coach (Bob) Stoops gave me a call and said, ‘We’re going to give you a scholarship.’ I was pretty emotional about it.”

A scholarship for his senior season wasn’t the first thing that popped into Paulsen’s mind when he got the phone call from the Sooners’ head man.

“I was expecting him to yell at me for something I did or something like that,” Paulsen said with a chuckle. “He just called me out of the blue.”

Paulsen was a contributor on special teams in 2011 and had performed well in the spring. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops repeatedly mentioned the former walk-on when discussing the depth at safety.

• Defensive end Michael Onuoha has been a pleasant surprise this fall. The true freshman has made a smooth transition to college football and appears to have played his way out of a redshirt season in 2012.

“It’s a lot different than high school,” Onuoha said. “It’s almost like the pros out here, even though I don’t know what that’s like. It’s a lot faster than high school.”

Onuoha was considered a raw prospect with terrific athleticism but he had a strong basketball background and didn’t have an extensive football resume. But the Edmond, Okla. native impressed the Sooners coaching staff immediately and he earned his first playing time against Florida A&M.

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The Oklahoma 10: Ranking the Sooners 

September, 10, 2012
Each week, SoonerNation will rank Oklahoma’s top 10 performers of the season up to this point. After OU’s 69-13 rout of Florida A&M, the power rankings have a new No. 1.

1. RB Damien Williams (Last week: No. 7)
Williams is averaging 13.7 yards per carry through two games, and has already scored five touchdowns. Imagine what he would do with more carries.

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NORMAN, Okla. -- At the moment, the Sooners are still without their two projected starting defensive tackles in Stacy McGee and Casey Walker. McGee remains suspended for a violation of university rules. Walker has not been at practice for more than a week as he deals with a personal issue.

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said he’s not concerned with who’s missing.

“We coach our players who are there and we try to put them in the best position to do the things we need them to do to be successful and coach the players and scheme the guys we have,” Stoops said. “Who we don’t have, we really don’t worry about them.”

In place of McGee and Walker, David King and Jamarkus McFarland took almost every snap at tackle against UTEP and performed well as the Miners offense was kept out of the end zone.

“We play with the guys we have and coach them all the same and hopefully we won’t have to change our defense too much based on the personnel we have available,” Stoops said.

With Torrea Peterson also out with an academic issue, Stoops is hopeful some of his younger tackles like Jordan Phillips and Marquis Anderson will develop to where he can play them on a more consistent basis. Neither player got more than three snaps apiece in El Paso.

“It just wasn’t a comfortable feeling and I think our offense settled in and starting making some drives so I didn’t think we were too gassed (on defense),” Stoops said. “We stuck with the guys on the first line probably more than we would have liked but as the season goes on you hope younger players progress and continue to gain confidence and trust in what they’re doing.”


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