OU insider: Extra week off a chance for Sooners to get healthy

With a second bye week, Oklahoma can now get players like Tom Wort, Ben Habern and Tony Jefferson extra rest.
By TRAVIS HANEY Published: November 6, 2011

NORMAN — The new Big 12 schedule isn't looking so bad right now for Oklahoma.

Pushing Bedlam back a week, among the other shuffling of the reworked league, created a second bye week in the Sooners' schedule.

And, boy, OU could use it right about now.

Even after a dominant 41-25 win against Texas A&M, the 8-1 Sooners — still sixth in the BCS standings — find themselves unsteady and unhealthy.

How much does this team need a breather? Just after Saturday's game, before interviews with reporters, a loud roar was heard coming from the OU locker room.

What was it? Sooners saw a score they liked? Rousing speech from one of the captains or coaches?

No, Bob Stoops told the team it would get Monday off from practice.

Cheering.

And Friday, too.

More cheers, louder.

It's November. Oklahoma, like every other team in the country, is pretty physically beaten up by now. There's a mental toll, as well.

How will the Sooners respond, in mind and body, now that they know they'll play the final four games without senior captain Ryan Broyles? Broyles has vowed he'll remain vocally active, but his presence on the field is something quarterback Landry Jones acknowledged he would miss quite a bit.

That's natural, considering Broyles was open a lot more plays than he was not during his decorated career. The concept of stepping up was popular among the Sooners in the postgame. Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds have to become givens, week in and week out. Trey Franks and Dejuan Miller have to do more. Kameel Jackson has to play like a sophomore, presuming he's rolled into the regular rotation.

Those receivers will have seven practices, a mini-mini-camp of sorts, until the Nov. 19 game at Baylor.

Beyond Broyles, there's the health of several other Sooners. Linebacker Tom Wort's ankle could use the time to heal. Center Ben Habern can knock off some of the rust, returning from his broken forearm. Time also figures to be beneficial for Tony Jefferson's knee, though that's a curious case.

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