Sophomore offensive tackle Derek Farniok was thrust into action when starter Tyrus Thompson was injured at Kansas State, and then started the Sooners' Bedlam win two weeks later.
“It took some time,” Farniok said of his progress. “I had to get my flexibility a little better and be able to play lower. That's the main thing. With my height I've got to work on playing low.”
Farniok stands at 6-foot-9, which might seem like a big advantage until you consider that playing low against defensive linemen is difficult.
“If you play too high, the shorter guy is gonna be able to come up and stop you right on the line,” Farniok said. “It's important for you to play lower than the defensive guy.”
Farniok is expected to start in Thompson's place when Oklahoma meets Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.
YOUNG PLAYERS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF BOWL PRACTICES
Last December, a buzz began building about freshman quarterback Trevor Knight as he played the role of Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel during Cotton Bowl preparations.
Knight parlayed those performances into earning the starting quarterback job at the beginning of this season.
“Cody (Thomas) … he's doing a great job and throwing it around well,” Knight said last week of the true freshman quarterback. “I'm excited for him to get a bunch of reps and it's an exciting time for him.
“I remember when I was there last year and I can't believe it's only been a year since that happened. It's only been a year ago. It's the starting spot to becoming a real good player.”
COLVIN TALKS REDEMPTION
Last season, Northern Illinois sneaked into the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and earned a bid to one of the elite bowl games, pushing Oklahoma out of a likely Sugar Bowl berth.
This year, though, the Sooners did receive an at-large Sugar Bowl bid, and for the players who felt slighted a year ago, it's especially sweet.
“It feels great to make it to a BCS game,” said senior cornerback Aaron Colvin. “I felt kind of … snubbed last year. It's gonna be a great experience.”
But Colvin also said he's mostly focused on finishing his career strong, and said as a captain and leader, he'll remind his teammates of the Sooners' embarrassing Cotton Bowl defeat last January.
“I'll definitely stay in these guys' ears about that if I see some slacking off or if I see some guys getting complacent just because we made it to a BCS bowl,” Colvin said. “That's not OK, and I don't want to finish anything like we did last year.”
Junior quarterback Blake Bell, on his up-and-down season:
“You've just gotta try to keep cool and keep on that steady plane. … The game of football is weird. You're gonna have times when you're up and times when you're down. You've just gotta figure out a way to have more ups and kinda keep your cool through it all.”