OU Notebook: Hammer time
BY JOHN E. HOOVER, World Sports Writer
Saturday, January 02, 2010
1/02/10 at 6:08 AM
Facing one of college football's top kickoff return men in Thursday's Sun Bowl — Stanford's Chris Owusu — freshman Ronnell Lewis delivered three bone-crunching tackles in OU's 31-27 victory.
The 6-foot-2, 234-pound freshman from Dewar contributed two more big hits on defense in his first start at strongside linebacker.
"We call him 'The Hammer,' " coach Bob Stoops said. "The guy's just got so much power and explosiveness and toughness as a young guy. He's just unusual how strong and powerful he is, the way he can run. He's got a chance to be a really special player."
Even more remarkable considering that a couple days before, during a bowl-mandated barbecue and talent show, Lewis' mind was elsewhere. Literally.
"It's funny, we were with a hypnotist a couple nights ago and he was in the crowd, not supposed to be hypnotized, (but) he was," Stoops said.
"Someone woke me up and I kind of had a headache and wasn't sure where I was," Lewis said.
Said Stoops, "You could tell, he wasn't all there. He's out. So I walked him up to the (hypnotist) afterward and said, 'I'm not leaving without my Hammer.' I said, 'You gotta get my man right.' So he kind of put him back in, and then he got him out and by the next morning, he felt good."
Lewis said that after the game, teammates were suggesting additional hypnosis.
"They were messing with me in there that it might have helped me," he said. "It threw me for a loop. I never thought I could be hypnotized, but it ended up working."
Taylor on the mend: Defensive tackle Adrian Taylor had surgery Friday morning to repair his broken leg and, according to OU spokesman Kenny Mossman, the procedure went as expected.
Taylor was injured on the first play of Stanford's second possession when he tackled tailback Toby Gerhart. His left foot was initially turned backwards. CBS did not show replays.
With Gerald McCoy's move to the NFL, the defensive tackle position this spring will be three-man rotation of Stacy McGee, Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland. McFarland stepped into the No. 3 spot this season and played extensively against Stanford after Taylor's injury. McGee had been moved to offensive line after injuries prior to the Oklahoma State and Stanford games, but coaches said that move was temporary.
Stopping Gerhart: Raw numbers indicate that Oklahoma didn't have much success stopping Stanford running back Toby Gerhart. He finished with 135 yards and two touchdowns. But he got one 28-yard run when the Sooners had a substitution mistake and left only 10 defenders on the field. And one of Gerhart's touchdowns was a hustling fumble recovery. In the second half, including the 26-yarder, Gerhart finished with 15 carries for 56 yards.
And considering Stanford's lack of passing success, the game plan seemed to work just fine. The Cardinal scored touchdowns on back-to-back long drives (76 and 79 yards) in the second quarter, but their longest sustained march otherwise was just seven plays. The Sooners had six possessions longer than that.
"I think he's a fabulous running back," Stoops said. "He did run through us a couple times. And they do a great job of really making you work mentally with personnel and shifting people, and if you foul up an alignment, they're gonna have a seam — and he doesn't miss it."
Young guns: With the loss of cornerback Brian Jackson, two young defensive backs got lots of time on the field, and both held up well.
"I thought Jonathan Nelson and Demontre Hurst came in and did a heck of a job," Stoops said. "Demontre, out there as a true freshman, played a heck of a game, and Jonathan Nelson's played really well through the year."