NORMAN — There was no way to defend Cory Brandon. Though the same is often said of all-time greats, this was no compliment. "That’s his fault,” said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, of his right tackle after the Sooners 14-13 loss to Brigham Young. "There’s no reason to have that many penalties.” Brandon had five penalties, in fact, including a pair of false starts that derailed the first drive of Oklahoma’s season, back when the Sooners were undefeated and had Sam Bradford still under center. A worse start to a season would have been difficult to imagine. Brandon helped put a surprising early stain on what most thought could be a pristine record for at least the first six weeks of the season, and perhaps longer. And Brandon’s five flags — three false starts and a pair of holding penalties — earned him a free sideline pass until the Sooners’ third conference game. It took a month of scorching preseason camp for Brandon to earn one of those five starting spots. Three hours and 16 minutes after his first play, it was gone. "If you’re a competitive person, you want to battle through things like that,” said offensive line coach James Patton. Brandon’s not sure how, but he has. He made his second consecutive start against Kansas State, beating out Jarvis Jones to regain his right tackle duties. "I don’t feel like you ever earned your spot,” Brandon said. "There’s always competition when there’s good players around. You gotta keep fighting every week.” He’ll have to. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson says both Brandon and Jones have been weighed down by inconsistent play. Nothing’s guaranteed, but Brandon impressed his coaches by limiting the effect of his horrendous start to the confines of Cowboys Stadium. "Cory started out pretty rough, pretty embarrassed,” Patton said. "Cory’s maturing. He does it in practice. His execution has gotten a lot better, he’s more physical.” Brandon’s now doing his part to help Oklahoma’s offensive line erase its early-season failures. They can’t take away the "3” in the loss column, but they can help put a "9” in the win column when the regular season concludes. "If you want it bad enough, you’ll make yourself better, prove your attitude, or do whatever it takes,” Patton said. "I think he’s definitely benefited from that.” Text "SOONER” to 65360 for your chance to win a $100 gift card from O’Connells. OU news text updates from NewsOK sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts.
Cory Brandon→Class: Junior →Height: 6-7 →Weight: 310 →Hometown: Corsicana, Texas →Fast facts: Started season opener but was penalized five times and did not start again until Oct. 24 against Kansas. First-year starter who appeared in nine games as a sophomore.