NORMAN, Okla. – Five things we learned Monday from Bob Stoops and the Sooners:
1. Oklahoma will be fine without Ford
Although losing Ford at running back is notable â he has six touchdowns this season and is the team’s leading rusher â it’s not a loss the Sooners can’t overcome.
Ford is out for at least this week and maybe up to three weeks, according to coach Bob Stoops, with a broken bone in his leg.
OU can absorb this loss because it has a pair of running backs this season who have also had some success. Meanwhile, it’s not as if Ford was a 2,000-yard rusher or had loads of experience. Effective, yes, but he’s not irreplaceable.
Running backs Alex Ross and Samaje Perine have shared in the ball carrying duties this season, so just expect an increase in their workload Saturday night against West Virginia.
Perine has 177 yards through three games and Ross has 132 yards and three touchdowns, including an 82-yard run against Tulsa. Ross is also third in the NCAA, averaging 34.8 yards per kick return. He also seemed supremely confident in his ability if he was, in fact, asked to carry the ball a bit more Saturday against the Mountaineers. His answer was perfect for a “Masterpiece Theater” reading.
“Oh, but of course,” Ross said.
2. West Virginia fans are “Disrespectful.”
Defensive lineman Chuka Ndulue remembers his last trip to Morgantown. It wasn’t pleasant
OU won 50-49, but the Sooners gave up 778 yards to West Virginia and Ndulue and his team heard plenty from the fans.
“Their fans are disrespectful,” Ndulue said. “They are going to say some things. They are loud and rude. They are very loud. And rude.”
Receiver Durron Neal agreed.
“They really take pride in trying to get in your head,” Neal said.
Quarterback Trevor Knight didn’t go as far as saying the WVU fans are rude, but did say he knew the team was in for a tough game.
“It’s hostile,” Knight said. “Their fans are going to be rocking. It’s important to use their energy to get yourself going.”
3. Neal is moving into the No. 2 role
Similar to the Sooner running back situation at the beginning of the year, the OU receivers were a bit of a question, too.
Behind Sterling Shepard there wasn’t much depth as far as experience goes. Now, it appears Durron Neal is moving into the role of the No. 2 receiver.
Neal set a career-high in catches with seven and yards with 71 Saturday against Tennessee. He had six catches for 70 yards the week before in Tulsa.
“He’s continued to come on and has turned himself into a good receiver,” OU offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. “He’s got some real running ability. Durron has been very good so far.”
Neal has played in 25 games for the Sooners but the junior has just five starts.
4. Maybe Eric Striker is the next Roy Williams
Striker had six tackles and two for a loss Saturday against Tennessee.
But it seemed like he made 20 tackles. Striker is well on his way to becoming an All-American and has been compared by Stoops to one of OU’s most-dynamic defensive players â Roy Williams.
“That’s probably fair to say,” Stoops said of suggesting Striker is the closest thing OU has had to Williams. “He’s in position and he’s involved in a lot.”
5. Julian Wilson is going to take the ball and go home
Remember that scene in “Forest Gump” where Gump takes the ball on a kickoff for Alabama and returns it for a touchdown and just keeps on running through the endzone and then through the stadium?
Well, Wilson said he’s going to do something similar the next time he has the chance.
That’s because Wilson nearly gave away the touchdown he scored on a 100-yard return when he dropped the ball â on purpose â as he crossed the goal line.
“I saw red so I knew I was in,” Wilson said after the game Saturday.
He might have known it, but the play was reviewed. Turns out Wilson was correct and the Sooners got the touchdown.
“Next time I’m running the ball through the end zone and taking the ball home with me,” Wilson said.