In case you haven't noticed, the Red Sky is falling. The sudden turn of post-Big 12 championship events understandibly have the shorts of Oklahoma fans in a collective wad.
The news of the unfortunate loss of running back DeMarco Murray to yet another knee operation and a 5-month hit to offseason work is both a blow and truly not a good thing for a young man faced with yet another long rehabilitation process. And believe me, those are tough things to go through. I wouldn't be surprised to see Murray take next season off rather than struggle through the first half as he did this year.
Next came the belated news that defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger has had back surgery.
Coupled together, those two events have fanned the fan flames of, "Here we go again." Recalling the loss of five starters (four on defense) for various reasons before last season's Fiesta Bowl debacle against West Virginia.
Losing a back of Murray's calibre in a national championship game is significant. At OU, however, it may not be disastrous. Chris Brown gained more yards during the season. Third option Mossis Madu, leading ground gainer in Murray's absence in the title game against Missouri, as we have noted would be first option at most other major programs. OU can utilize Madu--and Brown to an extent--in the passing game as they did Murray.
Granger is a run stuffer, a punishing over-the-center nose tackle. But Gerald McCoy, Adrian Taylor, Corey Bennett and yes, Cordero Moore is a more-than-respectable rotation. All more mobile than Granger. And Moore, whose quickness is a big part of his athletic repertoire, has made strides since the middle of the season.
We may not know until the team gets to game site whether or not middle linebacker Austin Box is full go off his knee sprain. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is optimistic and is going on the premise Box will be ready, though he could not play if the game were this weekend. But the staff loved the look of Travis Lewis in the middle and Nic Harris on the edge against Missouri. Again, a loss if Box isn't able to play; but in unless someone else goes down, not a game-changing situation in a contest based on speed and the ability to keep Florida quarterback Tim Tebow from consistently breaking sizeable runs.
Doubt has been raised again as to the academic eligibility of safety Lendy Holmes, who missed the Fiesta Bowl last season because of he wasn't. A source-based report surfaced last night that he was okay. But grades aren't submitted until 5 p.m. Thursday and won't be out until sometime early next week. So the finger-nail chewing will go on until then.
You don't want to lose a safety with Holmes' experience and big-play capability (4 interceptions). You need all your bullets in a game of this calibre. But even if he doesn't make it, backup Quentin Carter has become a big-time player. And Sam Proctor has re-earned staff trust.
In short, this may be the deepest team Bob Stoops has had. All isn't lost. Yet.--Mike Jones.