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Oklahoma football: Young defensive linemen Marquis Anderson, Jordan Phillips need to develop quickly

The redshirt freshmen will need to spell starters Jamarkus McFarland and David King until the Sooners get suspended Stacy McGee back in the lineup.
by Jason Kersey Published: September 3, 2012

So where does that leave the Sooners' defensive front — specifically its interior?

“We'll be fine,” King said. “Once we get these young guys accustomed to the game, we should be fine depth-wise.

“We should get Casey back here in a few weeks, and whenever Coach Stoops lifts Stacy's suspension, we'll be fine.”

But that's the problem. There's still no official word on when either player will return to the team. Until they do, Phillips and Anderson will have to develop enough to give McFarland and King some breaks.

McFarland said he and King knew going into UTEP how much they'd be relied upon, and he hopes they don't have to do it again.

“I sure pray so,” McFarland said.

King said: “We have to get those young guys to step up because (position coach Jackie) Shipp said he doesn't want to have to play me and J-Mac the whole game. So, hopefully those guys will step up this week and be able to give us a break.”

Nathan Jefferey rushed for 177 yards Saturday against Oklahoma's defense, and he left the game late in the third quarter with a hip injury. His last three carries before leaving were for 20, 71 and 12 yards.

Alabama, by comparison, surrendered 69 rushing yards to Michigan's entire team on the same day.

“Little stuff” that can be easily corrected, King said, allowed those big plays.

Bob Stoops said, “All things, we feel pretty confident we'll be able to handle moving forward.”

But adding depth back to the tackle spots, whether it's Anderson and Phillips or McGee and Walker, is just as important as correcting technical errors if Oklahoma is to be considered a serious title contender.

Both redshirt freshmen played in high school All-American games and are full of potential, but they hadn't touched a college-football game field until Saturday's mop-up duty.

“You've just got to get (Anderson and Phillips) playing time,” Mike Stoops said. “I wish that would've happened last week, but it didn't. Hopefully we can get them more reps this week.”