Junior linebacker Frank Shannon was nowhere to be found at Thursday’s open practice for OU students.
Sophomore Jordan Evans, a former Norman North standout, replaced Shannon when he was injured last season, and played with the first-team defense for the entire open portion of practice Thursday.
“He's sick,” said linebackers coach Tim Kish. “Hopefully he'll be back out here on Saturday.”
Shannon has started 25 games over the past two seasons, including all 13 last year, and has recorded 132 career tackles.
AUSTIN BELIEVES HE’S LEADING CB BATTLE
Sophomore Dakota Austin said he was in the thick of a preseason cornerback battle with Zack Sanchez last fall, and that experience has helped him through the spring.
This time, Austin is battling fellow sophomore Stanvon Taylor and junior Cortez Johnson to start opposite Sanchez in 2014.
“I feel like I'm winning, but anything can happen,” Austin said. “You've gotta stay humble in something like this. You can't ever think it's just over because that's when somebody's gonna come get you. I've just gotta stay humble and hungry, which I am, and just keep working hard.”
Austin, a Lancaster, Texas, native, appeared in five games as a true freshman in 2013, recording his first career interception in the Sooners’ 48-10 home win over Iowa State on Nov. 16.
He was also the player OU coaches inserted into the Sugar Bowl when former All-Big 12 performer Aaron Colvin had to leave the game for one play.
Asked what he learned from Colvin, Austin said, “Instincts and just saying poised. Just learning the speed of the game. That's really the main thing, film, and picking up on things that the other team likes to do. He was really heavy on film and I want to adopt that to my game.”
STOOPS LIKES SPRING GAME FORMAT
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops wasn’t in the mood Tuesday to debate the merits of playing a spring game vs. not playing one, but did say he enjoys the annual event.
“I love every time we get to go out and play,” Stoops said. “That's one of them. Necessity or not? No, I'm not getting into that whole debate. That's not for me to say.
“Every team has to operate the way they feel is the best. For us, we're going to go out there and do the best we can to simulate. We're going to have a great atmosphere. We've got a lot of exciting things going on. We'll go out and perform and hopefully get a lot out of the way we play, and have a little bit of fun with the crowd and the way we do it.”
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy opted not to have a regular spring game this year, instead opening up a two-hour practice to fans last Saturday inside Boone Pickens Stadium that included drills and a team period with a scrimmage.
Stoops said that back in his playing days at Iowa, the Hawkeyes would have a spring game each year that drew between 30 and 40,000 fans.
NO POST-SPRING GAME AUTOGRAPHS THIS YEAR
Oklahoma won’t allow fans onto the field Saturday for a post-spring game autograph session like it has in past years.
Senior associate athletics director Kenny Mossman posted the news Thursday to Twitter, saying the growing crowds had become unmanageable.
Mossman engaged fans in Twitter conversation after the initial post, and didn’t rule out bringing the autograph session back in the future.
“We love it when fans can interact with our teams,” Mossman tweeted. “So if we can find a way to do it safely, comfortably, we're all for it.”
Following the spring game, which begins at 2 p.m., OU students are encouraged to join the team on the field for a free one-hour concert, during which autographs won’t be permitted. Other fans are asked to remain in their seats during the concert.
OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, on sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight:
“There’s no one who’s more competitive and prepares harder than he does. We’re starting to see all of his hard work pay off. That’s a dangerous situation for a guy who has that talent. There’s not many guys who can run it and throw it like he does. I haven’t seen many.”