Ben Habern, who has missed the past five games after suffering a broken forearm against Missouri, participated in all of Monday's practice and is expected to play this week. Habern took snaps at center. Gabe Ikard, who was solid filling in at center, probably will return to left guard.
“(Habern) has a forearm cast and snapped it (ball),” said coach Bob Stoops. “At center or guard, we'll see how the week goes.”
The Sooners developed some depth while Habern was sidelined. Adam Shead started at left guard and graded out well. Jarvis Jones, a starter at offensive tackle last season, has played some series at guard after a tedious return from a major knee injury.
Offensive tackle Daryl Williams has been playing a few series behind starters Donald Stephenson and Lane Johnson. Williams, a redshirt freshman, started the season opener at right tackle but was hampered several weeks by a sprained ankle.
FLEMING EXPECTED TO PLAY
Cornerback Jamell Fleming, who suffered a knee injury at Kansas, practiced without issue on Monday and is expected to return for Saturday's game. Fleming underwent arthroscopic surgery just two weeks ago,
“I expect him to be fine all week and play,” Stoops said. “He was close Saturday. He was cleared to go but didn't quite have the confidence (in the knee). I know how that can be.”
It will be a big boost for the secondary, allowing Aaron Colvin to move back to safety. Sam Proctor showed some promise at safety when Colvin was at cornerback.
OFFENSE ISN'T A&M'S PROBLEM
Texas A&M is a balanced offense that will provide a good test for an OU defense that struggled two weeks ago against Texas Tech. The Aggies have a talented running back combo (Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael) and a quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) that can produce big plays.
“They're a great offense,” said OU linebacker Tom Wort. “No one has been able to shut them down. In their losses, it hasn't been because their offense hasn't been scoring. It's going to be a big challenge. We're looking forward to it. That's why you play these games.”
BACK TO RB BY COMMITTEE
Stoops said during two-a-days the Sooners would be running back by committee. That game plan was altered when Dominique Whaley proved he could be productive with 20-plus carries.
Now that Whaley has suffered a season-ending ankle injury, OU will alternate Roy Finch, Brennan Clay and Brandon Williams. Clay has been hampered by a shoulder injury the past month.
“Brennan Clay is more healthy now, and that's helpful,” Stoops said. “We'll get Brandon Williams more opportunities and carries, as well. All of those guys are probably best if each of them plays about 25 snaps. That's their body types. They'll all be better if you split it up that way.”
TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
Players don't follow the constant conference shuffling, but Big 12 players are well aware Texas A&M is leaving for the SEC. Wins over the Aggies are always special, this season even more so according to Ikard.
“It's bittersweet,” Ikard said. “They're a great team. They're a couple of plays away from being undefeated. Obviously, they played us really tough last year. You wish them the best of luck in the SEC...”
SWITZER STATUE TO BE UNVEILED
A statue of former OU coach Barry Switzer will be unveiled Saturday at 12:30 p.m., east of the Barry Switzer Center near the Bennie Owen and Bud Wilkinson statues.
Switzer led the Sooners to three national titles, 12 Big Eight titles and has won more games than any OU football coach (157-29-4, including a 100-11-1 record in conference games).
The sculptor was Jack Nortz, who has done projects that include: President Ronald Reagan, Bear Bryant, sportscasters Jim McKay and Grantland Rice and OU Heisman winner Sam Bradford.