NORMAN — Following Monday's announcement that sophomore defensive tackle Jordan Phillips will undergo season-ending back surgery, Oklahoma has now lost two critically important defenders on a unit that lacked experience to begin with.
Senior linebacker and team captain Corey Nelson partially tore a pectoral muscle two weeks ago, likely ending his college football career.
“You can see a completely different defense out there without those two,” said junior defensive end Geneo Grissom. “They are great leaders and great football players. We're going to have to bounce back and have some guys step up.”
In Phillips' place, much of that pressure will fall on redshirt freshman Jordan Wade, who has started the last two weeks in Phillips' place against TCU and Texas.
“We didn't want anything to change up front since Jordan (Phillips) left,” Wade said a few days before the Longhorns beat OU 36-20 last weekend.
The defensive front clearly suffered without Phillips, though, and things become even more uncertain on the defensive line with him lost for the season.
In addition to Wade, junior Torrea Peterson will also see an increased role, and the Sooners will likely need junior-college transfer Quincy Russell to learn fast and contribute, as well.
“They played hard, but they need to play better,” Bob Stoops said of Wade and Peterson. “There were some technique issues. They haven't played as much as some of the other guys, so hopefully they'll (keep) improving as we go.”
Wade originally signed with Oklahoma in its recruiting class of 2011 out of Stony Point High in Round Rock, Texas, but failed to qualify academically. He worked on his grades and enrolled in the spring of 2012, then redshirted a year ago.