Share “Ryan Reynolds' absence keeps Sooner...”

Ryan Reynolds' absence keeps Sooner defense down

By John Helsley Modified: October 28, 2008 at 8:51 am •  Published: October 28, 2008
NORMAN — It appears only two unlikely scenarios exist for a quick fix to the Oklahoma defense.

A medical miracle in treating ACL tears...

Or a time machine capable of transporting Ryan Reynolds and the Sooners back to the Cotton Bowl, to avoid when Reynolds shredded knee ligaments against Texas, and was lost for the season.

That’s how much the Sooners miss Ryan Reynolds.

The tearful reaction to Reynolds’ knee blowout — his third at Oklahoma — was due to the overwhelming respect he’s earned from teammates and coaches through his trials and comebacks.

And maybe just a bit out of fear for what was about to come.

Check it out. Since losing Reynolds, the OU defense has deteriorated.

When he went out on the second series of the second half against Texas, OU led 28-20, and seven of the Longhorns’ points came courtesy of a kickoff return. Texas then scored on its next four possessions in a surge to victory.

Through the season’s first four games, OU allowed a total of 69 points.

Opponents scored 84 in the four halves after the latest in Reynolds’ series of unfortunate events.

Could one man mean that much to a defense?

Perhaps when that one man is referred to in multiple glowing terms.

"The glue.”

"The heart.”

"The rock.”

All had been attached to Reynolds, who basically served as the brain stem of the entire defense, making sure guys were in the right places and spaces.

In his absence, the defense appears to be searching for a leader.

It isn’t likely to come at linebacker, where the three starters — Travis Lewis, Austin Box and Keenan Clayton — are all first-year starters. Lewis and Box are redshirt freshmen, and Clayton is a converted safety.

"You’ve got three guys out there together that have never, until this season, started a college football game,” said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "Obviously, him being our most experienced player next to Nic (Harris) in our back end, that’s a big part of your mental ability to manage things.