Sooner lineman has season-ending knee injury
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Monday, August 06, 2012
8/06/12 at 7:41 PM
NORMAN – His starting center and captain was done playing football. His backup center had a chemotheraphy appointment. One of his redshirt freshmen had undergone heart surgery, another had his career cut down by a knee injury. His touted signee was homesick and leaning toward quitting.
And now, Oklahoma offensive line coach James Patton could look over to the practice tent Monday morning and see starting right guard Tyler Evans stiff-legged on crutches. Another knee injury. Another player lost, this time for the season to a torn ACL.
Still, those weren't tears trickling down Patton's face, but beads of sweat. And he wasn't exactly moaning as he worked his way through the linemen in warm-ups.
"You ready to knock the (snot) out of somebody?" Patton bellowed to Derek Farniok, one of OU's few young healthy linemen.
There are cracks across the Sooners' offensive line. Their resolve, at least, is intact.
The preseason idea that OU's O-line would provide the foundation for the entire team?
"I'll put it on record. I'll say it. I'll vouce for us," said Bronson Irwin, Evans' replacement at right guard. "I feel like we're going to be really good."
Maybe. But they're nowhere near as seasoned at a position where experience correlates to success.Habern and Evans combined for 60 starts over the past three years.
Left guard Gabe Ikard slid into Habern's spot when the captain gave up football over neck injury concerns. Adam Shead, who started five games as a 2011 freshman, slid into the lineup at left guard. That seemed manageable.
Evans' injury, however, leaves OU no starts at the opposite guard. The Sooners must bank on Irwin's potential after his two years as a reserve.
"I bragged about Bronson Irwin all winter and spring," coach Bob Stoops said Monday after detailing Evans' injury. "I can tell he's in great shape this summer. He must have done a great job. He'll have to really step up."
So will Ikard and Shead, and whoever the Sooners can find to fill their depth chart.
"It's an opportunity for the next guy. That's how we've got to approach it," Patton said. "The guys are good with that. They understand. They're competitive. They want to play."
They had better proceed with caution, thin as the interior has become.
Backup center Austin Woods contines to gut out practice despite cancer treatments. Nila Kasatati, a backup at center and guard, is expected to return soon after his heart procedure.
Dylan Dismuke, a four-star redshirt freshman, gave up football after injuring his knee last December.
Then came Monday, with news of Evans' loss and this tweet from four-star true freshman lineman John Michael McGee: "Goodluck to OU on the field I'll be watching. It's just not for me."
Stoops had labeled McGee "homesick" earlier Monday.
Someone else came up with a word for the middle of OU's offensive line: snakebitten.
"It's unfortunate. It's really unfortunate," Shead said. "But we've just got to keep going. Gotta keep pushing."
"Yeah, it's rough. Obviously you can't prepare for that," Irwin said. "But what can you do? There's no reason to pout about it, sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. We've just got to do the best with what we have, and that's what we'll do."