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OU football notebook: Sooners’ LB depth getting tested, good news for the o-line and more

October 4, 2017

Linebacker depth

getting tested

With Curtis Bolton undergoing season-ending ankle surgery, Oklahoma’s depth at linebacker is quickly getting thin.

Bolton was filling in at multiple linebacker spots and had proven himself as a valuable pass-rusher.

Now, the already-thin linebacking corps will turn to Caleb Kelly to stay on the field even more, likely getting more time at inside linebacker.

“We’ll stick with the guys we’ve got,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said Tuesday. “Caleb becomes more interchangeable in smaller sets. If we lose another one, or if we lose a couple more, then it starts to get a little more dire. But we’ve been training Caleb at a couple positions. He has enough versatility to move around.”

Stoops also mentioned Jon-Michael Terry and Bryan Mead as players who could see more playing time.

O-line returning

to full strength

For as good as it was to hear a reassuring injury report for the OU defense, don’t overlook the health of OU’s offensive line.

Monday, o-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh followed up on coach Lincoln Riley’s update on right guard Cody Ford, who hasn’t played since Ohio State but is expected to suit up Saturday against Iowa state.

“He practiced (Tuesday),” Bedenbaugh said. “Today was the first practice. It’s more walk-through stuff today, it’s not a full-go. I’ll know more tomorrow. But he says he feels fine. I don’t anticipate any problems.”

The Sooners are also waiting for lineman Ben Powers to return to full speed. Powers has been banged up but played even more in Ford’s absence.

“I think he’s closer,” Bedenbaugh said. “He’s not 100 percent, but he is closer.”

Evans blossoming

at right tackle

Last season, right tackle Bobby Evans earned a starting job as a freshman. Evans played well, but he was still learning the ropes.

“He played against, seemed like, everybody’s best player,” Riley said. “He played against the Lawson kid at Auburn, he played against the Willis kid at K-State. It seemed like every week the top d-lineman was on him. And he hung in there well.”

This season, though, Riley says Evans is doing a whole lot more than hanging in there. Opposite left tackle Orlando Brown, Evans is helping fortify a powerful exterior line.

“He’s starting to become a dominant-type player himself,” Riley said. “So been really proud of the progress he’s made.”

Riley impressed

with ISU’s Lanning

Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning had 20 tackles last week against Texas.

Impressive … especially for a former quarterback.

Lanning converted to middle linebacker this offseason after throwing for 1,290 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016. Lanning was 0-for-1 passing but did run for 67 yards last season against OU.

Watching from the outside, Riley is highly complementary of Lanning’s unusual switch.

“Remarkable,” Riley said. “Absolutely. Especially just physically. Mentally, you’re learning the defense, and defense is just as hard as offense, but he obviously has a good mind for it if he was able to play quarterback there. So he gets the game. And just watching the games chronologically, you can just see he’s getting more comfortable as a player in there each week.”

— Cody Stavenhagen, Tulsa World