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Bob Stoops: Casey Walker questionable Saturday, and future past that is unclear

by Jason Kersey Published: August 30, 2012
Senior defensive tackle Casey Walker (53) returned to Oklahoma's practice Monday. OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE PHOTO
Senior defensive tackle Casey Walker (53) returned to Oklahoma's practice Monday. OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE PHOTO
NORMAN — Oklahoma’s string of tough breaks may not be over just yet, with word from coach Bob Stoops on Wednesday that senior defensive tackle Casey Walker is questionable for Saturday’s season opener at UTEP.

Stoops wouldn’t detail what he said was a non-football injury and “personal issue.”

If Walker is unable to play, JaMarkus McFarland and senior David King, who moved inside while Stacy McGee serves his indefinite suspension, will start at the tackle spots, with redshirt freshman Jordan Phillips playing a much larger reserve role than was originally expected.

When asked if Walker’s issue looked like it would be a long-term one, Stoops said, “I don’t know.”

OU certainly can and will survive UTEP and Florida A&M with a thinner-than-it-would-like defensive line. Then, the Sooners have a bye the week of Saturday, Sept. 15, and their final bye of the regular season two weeks later.

I had thought that Oklahoma getting both its byes so early could result in some health issues later in the season, when the Sooners are playing week after week without a break.

In light of recent events, a friend asked if OU fans could wind up seeing these early off weeks as a godsend.

Eh, maybe, although these injuries are obviously happening outside of games. Still, junior-college transfer defensive end Chaz Nelson is recovering from an injury and could be back around the start of October. There’s no way to know if McGee’s suspension will be lifted by then, although it does definitely seem doubtful.

So if Walker and Nelson are each able to return by then, it would add some depth back to a thinning defensive line. And I think OU should be able to get through September 3-0 without them — although, Kansas State and Collin Klein vs. an inexperienced and thin defensive line could prove interesting, especially with OU’s linebackers unproven as well.

If the Sooners make it through the first month unscathed, though, and those guys are back, they are sitting pretty because they’ve gotten Phillips and his fellow freshmen, ends Michael Onuoha and Charles Tapper — plus sophomore linebacker-turned-end Rashod Favors — some solid game experience and two weeks off to learn from all the mistakes they’ll surely make as newcomers.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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