When asked about his offensive line injuries, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said the outlook was “better.”
Both right guard Bronson Irwin and left guard Adam Shead suffered sore ankles in the past few games. Left tackle Lane Johnson still isn't seeing a start after sustaining a sprained ankle against Notre Dame.
Then Saturday against Baylor, starting center Gabe Ikard stood on the sideline in street clothes after he was diagnosed with “head issues” and wasn't cleared to play.
“I'm expecting to have Gabe Ikard back (for West Virginia),” Stoops said. “He was very close Thursday but didn't feel that they were ready to clear him.
“Lane Johnson was better, finished the game. Actually, Lane had a nice game when he was in there. Limited snaps, but did well. He'll be improved.
“Bronson was improved. Adam, we believe will be fine with a day or two of rest. So I think we'll have all those guys ready to go.”
The offensive line already lost both Tyler Evans and Nila Kasitati to ACL tears and Ben Habern to a lingering neck issue.
BOB STOOPS WAS NERVOUS ABOUT TY DARLINGTON STARTING AT CENTER
Stoops didn't want to admit it before the game, but he was nervous. He had lost starting center Ben Habern before the season even began. Then he lost Gabe Ikard for the week due to a concussion. That's when he found himself counting on the third-string center, a true freshman, to start the Baylor game, a contest OU lost a year ago.
But OU's coach said he had confidence in freshman Ty Darlington.
“A coach's son, he was ready for the moment,” Stoops said. “He didn't flinch. Even before the game, I was excited to see his demeanor, and he was ready to play.”
The freshman from Apopka, Fla., made his first true start, helped lead Oklahoma to two scoring drives to start the game and had two false starts, which Stoops referred to as “hiccups.”
“There's a guy you feel, as things progress, you can go to and possibly move Gabe around if you need to,” Stoops said. “Just proud of Ty to play like he did.”
JAVON HARRIS A “FIRM BELIEVER IN GOING HARD.”
For the second straight week, an Oklahoma defender was called for a personal foul on the opposing offense's opening drive.
On Nov. 3 at Iowa State, linebacker Corey Nelson grabbed Cyclones quarterback Steele Jantz's facemask on the first play from scrimmage.
Saturday against Baylor — on a third-down play — a pass intended for Antwan Goodley was tipped in the air, and senior safety Javon Harris hit him high, drawing a 15-yard penalty.
“I know I've been susceptible to that rule and trying to find that medium to where I should hit someone,” Harris said Monday. “I've always been a firm believer in going hard. Sometimes they count it as that type of play and sometimes they let it go as a big hit.
“A lot of times, when you are going hard, you don't think too much about what's going on as far as if I should hit this guy in the legs … to me, I'm never going to aim at a guy's face mask. I honestly didn't think that I did on Saturday.”
Harris admitted that it's a tough call for everyone involved, including the officials.
“They have to make a call, but I also have to make a play,” Harris said. “When it comes down to it, you have to look at it and play hard. As long as I continue to play hard, sometimes it will get called, sometimes it won't. You have to find a happy medium.”
Bob Stoops on a video clip he showed his players on targeting “(The play in the video) wasn't excessive to the point of being a suspension or anything, but should have been called but wasn't. It was plain as day and explained and very similar (to Harris' play). He needs to hit him lower.
“Protecting these kids matters. You can still be tough, physical. You can hit him down here where the ball is. ... I thought on that play, the ball was bouncing around up here ... I would have liked to have seen him grab the ball off the top of his head and run in for a score instead of hitting him. You just have to keep educating them.”