As we first reported yesterday…..
Stoops told me that suspended defensive tackle Stacy McGee "won't play" against Kansas State a week from Saturday. McGee is on university probation for an unspecified rules violation.
McGee is the best overall defensive tackle. Casey Walker is considered the most "productive" defensive tackle. Walker has been out with an unspecified "personal issue." Losing the two stalwarts up front has caused OU to move defensive end David King to tackle and rely on untested freshmen Jordan Phillips and Marquis Anderson. Former five-star recruit Jamarkus McFarland is a senior and starts alongside King.
McGee is expected to return at some point this season. Fans have been clamoring for his return knowing that his talents will be needed against K-State and Texas—two teams with outstanding run games and a good dose of option sprinkled in.
I suggested to Stoops that depth will be a problem and that the talent level at that position has dropped significantly. His response was, "We'll be fine. McFarland is really playing well. David (King) is really good…and those other guys are really coming along" (Philips and Anderson). While I know that Stoops does indeed feel good about the aforementioned players, his response was predictable: Quick and confident. Tell Stoops the sky is falling and he'll say "great, but there's still time to get in a quick nine."
Phillips is an intriguing prosepect. His upside is almost as big as he is: 6-6, 325 pounds. But the reality is he's not had many reps and has played around 30 college snaps. One insider told me before the season that he will be good but right now "doesn't know how to get lined up." His athleticism is off the charts. The first day he hit the practice field he wowed teammates by doing back flips. In uniform. I suggested to Stoops that his 6-6 frame makes it hard to get leverage and to keep his pads low. He laughed it off saying the NFL plays guys that size all the time.
Bottom line is this. I think OU is going to have trouble with slowing K-State's run game, especially star QB Colin Kline (spell?) on the option. McGee's absence will be felt. But DC Mike Stoops does a great job of scheming around problem areas—in this case, utilizing five and six defensive backs in some sets. He'll also play with a more traditional three linebacker scheme quite a bit against the Wildats and at times move King from being on all-fours to a stand-up DE. I expect that MLB Tom Wort will have success going sideline to sideline and an aggressive Sooner defense will do its part in an OU win.
The Sooners will have another bye week and then travel to Texas Tech before preparing for the big one: Texas. And my somewhat educated guess is that McGee will be back in time to take on the Horns in Big D. Isn't that what it's all about anyway?
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