“But it doesn’t mean I can’t hustle to the football and hit. I can still play football. ... It was good to get that game in, and kind of feel like the old Tom.”
He also said then that he got along “great” with both Stoops and first-year linebackers coach Tim Kish. Wort was then asked if his struggles were less about bickering with new coaches, and more about missing Venables.
“A lot of stuff goes into it,” Wort responded. “You can sum it up like that.”
Over the final stretch of the regular season, when Oklahoma came up against the spread offenses of Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, Stoops often put defenses on the field with one — and sometimes zero — linebackers, choosing instead to play six or seven defensive backs.
Also, Wort lost playing time to freshman Frank Shannon, who started two games and often outperformed Wort in pass defense. Shannon now becomes Oklahoma’s probable 2013 starter at middle linebacker.
Kish indicated a few days before the Cotton Bowl that adjustments were being made for the future that would shift some things back toward linebackers.
“We go in every week knowing that we want to stop the run, but you see these diverse pass offenses, these four-wides and five-wides,” Kish said. “We tried to come up with some wrinkles this year. Again, it was what we thought was best at the time.
“We learned from it, and we’ve kind of come into a happy mix where we’re at today. I think it will evolve a little more toward the linebackers this year.”
Wort’s departure adds another surprising layer to Oklahoma’s linebacker situation moving forward. The Sooners lost their best 2013 linebacker commitment Sunday, when Dallas Jesuit’s Jordan Mastrogiovanni flipped his pledge to Texas A&M.
Mastrogiovanni’s flip came just two days after Texas A&M routed Oklahoma 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl, and left Oklahoma with only two linebackers in its 2013 recruiting class — Tulsa Washington’s Dominique Alexander and Norman North’s Jordan Evans — and both could wind up in different positions at the college level.