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September 4, 2012
Don't look for Oklahoma's defensive tackle position to improve much heading into the home opener Saturday.
Mike Stoops confirmed Monday, Casey Walker isn't currently practicing with the team and no one seems to have a timeline for his return to the OU program. Bob Stoops also announced Monday, Torrea Peterson is working through an academic situation and he isn't expected to be back in action this weekend.
SCOOPHD: MONDAY'S DEFENSIVE NOTEBOOK
Through all the turmoil on the defensive line over the last few weeks, Oklahoma players and coaches continue moving ahead, playing the hand they are dealt.
"Who we don't have, we really don't worry about them," said Mike Stoops. "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."
The Sooners didn't exactly work with what they had Saturday in El Paso. King and Jamarkus McFarland started and played the entire game up until the waning moments. With Florida A&M coming to town, redshirt freshmen Jordan Phillips and Marquis Anderson will play the role of backups.
It's now their time to step up as the Sooners are in desperate need of depth at the position.
"There is urgency because we know they've got to be able to play," said McFarland of the freshmen duo. "They have major talent and they're two different style players but they're going to be on the field. They aren't just guys on scout team (anymore). It's just a learning process really. The more reps they get, the better they're going to get."
The more reps they get, the more rest McFarland and King can get too. King says he went into the UTEP game weighing about 281 pounds. He held up physically, as did McFarland. But asking two players, one undersized by 10 to 20 pounds, to play every snap at those two positions isn't realistic.
At some point, two players at the most physical position on a football field will wear down.
"I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't a little sore right now," said King Monday. "That's just part of playing the game."
King said his soreness wasn't just because he played defensive tackle instead of defensive end. He said everyone was feeling the effects of finally playing a real game.
"Everybody who played a significant amount of snaps Saturday is banged up and sore right now," he said. "We're just trying to get in those cold tubs and hydrate and do all those proper things necessary so we'll be ready to go on Saturday."
Needless to say, this has become an all hands on deck situation for Jackie Shipp and the defensive tackle position.
"We need everybody on the field and that's why we practice in case stuff like this happens so we don't just continue to roll downhill," said McFarland. "We've got guys that need to step up. It's just like me. There are some things I need to work on like any other guy. We come and tote the load until everyone's here. We're a family."
Florida A&M comes at an opportune time for this team. Last year the Sooners were headed on the road to Tallahassee for their first road game of the season. This year, they welcome the Rattlers, who signed up for a pay day at Owen Field.
For the Sooners, it's a chance to get Phillips and Anderson on the field for the extended snaps. A chance for those two to get up to speed before conference play begins with Kansas State's run heavy offense and Collin Klein.
This is also a chance for King and McFarland to get some help, and to be ready when this team needs them to go from beginning to end once again.