NORMAN — After middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds left Saturday’s game with torn ligaments in his knee, Oklahoma’s defense collapsed. Texas scored 25 points on its final four possessions and rallied to a 45-35 victory.
This week, OU will try and reassemble its defense without Reynolds, who is lost for the season with a third major knee injury in as many years. The leading candidate is redshirt freshman Austin Box, who beat out Travis Lewis at weak-side linebacker during the preseason, but lost the spot after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in his knee. Box healed, but could never regain the job from Lewis, who had a game-high 19 tackles against Texas and who leads OU in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and interceptions. Despite receiving few practice reps since his return a month ago, Box will be counted on to fill a huge void at middle linebacker. "If somebody can do it, I would say he can,” said defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who will also audition Mike Balogun and Brandon Crow at the position.