The overall thinness of Oklahoma's offensive line has been well-documented throughout the 2012 season, which is why every time any of the current starters gets dinged up, there is great cause for concern among Sooner fans.
Starting left tackle Lane Johnson hurt his ankle late last week against Notre Dame, but he was expected to be healthy enough to start Saturday at Iowa State. But during warm-ups, it became clear that he wouldn't be at full strength; Johnson never played an offensive snap, and sophomore Tyrus Thompson started in his place.
Junior guard Bronson Irwin went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter against Iowa State; it was the second time this season he's had an injury scare. Against Texas on Oct. 13, he was out of the game briefly after falling to the turf.
When Irwin exited the game in Ames, right tackle Daryl Williams slid over to guard and redshirt freshman Derek Farniok took over Williams' spot.
But early in the second quarter, Irwin came back in the game and didn't seem to have any more serious trouble.
“Bronson battled back,” said offensive line coach James Patton. “He just stung that ankle. It's an ongoing process and it will be for the rest of the season. Lane is the same way. Lane warmed up but didn't feel real good.”
Before fall camp started, senior center Ben Habern decided to end his career because of ongoing back and neck issues. Then, just a couple days into preseason workouts, senior guard Tyler Evans tore his ACL.
True freshman tackle John Michael McGee left the team after a few days, deciding football was no longer for him. Redshirt freshman guard Dylan Dismuke was forced to take a medical hardship waiver because of a lingering knee issue.
Then on Oct. 6, reserve guard Nila Kasitati tore his ACL.
FOCUS SHIFTS TO BAYLOR
Oklahoma's defense was embarrassed last season when the Sooners lost 45-38 to Baylor, which was led that night on a last-minute, game-winning touchdown drive by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
It was the first-ever Baylor win in series history, and now, OU senior defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland said, the Sooners can think about it.
“It's on our mind fresh now,” McFarland said. “We turn our minds to a new opponent once we finish one. That's where our focuses shift, too. We'll watch a little tape of last year and reminisce a little bit and use it as momentum.”
The Bears, meanwhile, are down a notch from last season. Baylor opened its season 3-0, but lost four straight games to open Big 12 play. Coach Art Briles' team finally earned a conference win Saturday, topping Kansas 41-14.
“On behalf of the team and the coaching staff, what a relief,” Briles said Saturday after the KU win. “We feel like we have been carrying a burden the last three or four weeks, so it's a relief to go out there and play well.”
Senior quarterback Landry Jones, on moving forward into the final four games of the regular season:
“Our mindset and mentality is the season isn't over yet. We have two losses. Maybe the national championship is out of our grasp, but you never know in college football. You never know what's going to happen. We want to put ourselves in position to have a chance at the end of the year, be in the best position possible for sure.”