NORMAN — The season-ending knee injury to redshirt freshman guard Nila Kasitati has made Oklahoma’s thin offensive line close to skeletal. Kasitati and tackle Tyrus Thompson were the only offensive linemen who routinely rotated in with the starters in the first four games.
Guards and centers coach James Patton said on Tuesday that junior Austin Woods and true freshman Ty Darlington will get more practice snaps with the first team this week. Starting right tackle Daryl Williams could also move down to guard in a pinch.
“We’ll find a combination of guys and those guys have been practicing good,” Patton said. “… We’ll rotate those guys in practice and we’ll be ready to go.”
The Sooners have been racked by injuries at the guard spots since the preseason. Ben Habern, who was OU’s starting center, had to retire from football due to an injury. Guard Tyler Evans suffered a torn ACL before OU held its first practice in pads. Kasitati’s injury makes the situation tougher.
Starting guards Bronson Irwin and Adam Shead better plan on staying healthy and playing every snap on Saturday against Texas.
Run, run, run: Oklahoma hasn’t been a dominant rushing team in its first four games, averaging 190.5 yards a game. After watching Texas allow a combined 467 yards in back-to-back games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, running seems like a viable way to move the ball.
“We want to be able to run the football and be a big part of what we do,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Hopefully we can block well enough and recognize well enough what they’re doing to be able to block and run. It always makes a big difference in these games.”
Familiar tune: OU’s been blaring “Texas Fight” over the loud speakers during practice this week. All of OU’s players know the music, but some have different lyrics going through their heads. Shead said his prep alma mater, Cedar HIll (Texas) High School, has the same fight song with different lyrics.
“I’ve been thinking about Cedar Hill a lot this week,” Shead said.
Watch the shifts: Texas will do more shifting and motioning before snapping the ball than any of the Sooners’ previous opponents. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops doesn’t seem concerned.
“Our defense is built for that,” he said. “We feel like we’ve got a defense where we feel we can zero in on the things they’re doing, and hopefully not get too confused.”
Staying focused will be a huge key in the game. The Longhorns’ offense is designed to test teams before the ball is snapped.
“This is how football is anymore. There’s a lot of shifts, movements, trades and you can’t get caught up in all of that,” Stoops added. “You still have to play your fundamentals. You have to play your alignments and keep your eyes very disciplined; that’s the key. Once they move and shift and trade, that we get lined up properly, that will be a big part of the game. That’s what that stuff can do to you if you’re not disciplined with your reads.”