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Sooner Report: Senior Toughness
November 26, 2013

This is What Seniors Do

Want to know why senior cornerback Aaron Colvin was voted a captain by his teammates? Turn on the second-half game film against Kansas State. Despite clearly experiencing pain from an injury suffered at Baylor that kept him out of the Iowa State contest, Colvin gutted it out against Kansas State when his squad needed him the most, finishing the game with five tackles. More importantly, he provided the OU secondary with an emotional lift, as well as a great example for his younger teammates.

“Aaron gives us confidence and he gives us some stability in the secondary,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops observed. “We don’t have a lot of experience back there. When he is back there he seems to settle everyone down and he gives us an outstanding cover guy.”

Despite missing two complete games and a portion of another due to injury, Colvin is still fourth on the OU roster with 47 tackles (37 solo) on the year and is fifth on the team with 5.0 tackles-for-loss. The senior also has added a sack, one interception, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups in 2013.

“It’s just been an uncomfortable season for him,” Stoops continued. “He has really toughed it out and that says a lot about his character and his toughness. It will be the same type of deal two weeks from now. He’s just a fighter and I’m sure he’ll want to play a great game here in a couple weeks.”

As Colvin gets set for the final regular season game of his Sooner career, he admitted that “it hasn’t really hit me as much yet, but I know it’s creeping up on me. I’m cherishing every moment of it.”

Colvin knows how to step up in big-game situations like he did last year against Oklahoma State. Colvin had himself a game against OSU, recording four tackles – including 2.0 sacks – and an interception. With the Sooners down by a touchdown in the second quarter and the Cowboys driving down to the OU 25-yard line, Colvin stepped in front of a pass by quarterback Clint Chelf to stifle the drive. Momentum shifted, and OU subsequently marched the other way down the fielding, scoring on a nine-yard catch by Jalen Saunders to tie the game.

Colvin came up big again on the final play of the third quarter with OSU leading, 38-30, sacking Chelf to bring up a third-and-18 that the Cowboys couldn’t convert. On the ensuing punt, Saunders returned the ball for a 54-yard touchdown that again resulted in a tied game.

Colvin says his key coming into a highly emotional contest like Bedlam is to practice like you want to play. That’s the messages he’s preaching to some of his younger teammates.

“We don’t talk so much about what happened as far as win or losses,” the Owassa, Okla., native said. “We don’t talk about that. We do talk about the preparation that goes into the game. Usually what happens on Saturday is what happens at practice that week. You have to tell those young guys to pick up their stuff sometimes and get a little more serious, but these guys get it. These guys had to mature very quickly this year. There are a lot of guys who had to step up and play this year, so there’s not too much that needs to be said to them.”

No doubt Colvin’s teammates and OU fans appreciate his commitment to helping the squad achieve victory, not to mention his pain threshold. We have the feeling that NFL scouts will take notice, as well.

Will Sooners Ride Knight to Another Victory?

Redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight started the third game of his career and first on the road last Saturday at Kansas State. All three games have finished as wins for the Sooners, with Knight throwing for a combined 376 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 227 yards and a touchdown in those wins.

“He’s a great athlete,” said OU head coach Bob Stoops of Knight. “I think it’s obvious as soon as you see him pull the ball down and run is how fast he is. He has great speed and quickness, and those are some things that allow him to separate from people and make big plays like he’s made. We’ve just got to continue to work the consistency of it all.”

Facing a Kansas State team that entered the game boasting a four-game winning streak, Knight helped OU score 41 points, the highest total the Wildcats have allowed all season, to earn a 41-31 victory. Despite not having started since the West Virginia game on Sept. 7, Knight came in to complete a career-high 14 passes on 20 attempts for a career-high 171 yards and a touchdown while also rushing 14 times for 82 yards and another score.

“He has the ability to pull the ball and make something happen on the edge and it puts more stress on the defensive players in their spacing and where they’re going to defend,” Stoops said of the mobile Knight. “Like I said, they may have a guy there for him, but if there’s enough room it’s a foot race, and a good bit of the time he’s going to win that foot race. It does put pressure on them, and it changes things for the defense. With him in there we go to it more because he’s more effective with it.”

Knight’s ability to run and get the feel for the offense has opened up the Sooners’ entire backfield. Since Knight came in for an injured Blake Bell early against Iowa State, OU has rushed for 672 yards in the team’s last seven quarters of action. The Sooners’ have averaged a tidy 7.6 yards per carry during that time.

Senior running back Brennan Clay has been a main part of the attack, including a 200-yard performance against Kansas State after rushing for 86 yards against the Cyclones.

“There’s a feel to it with the two of them,” said Stoops of Knight and Clay working the read option game. “They did a great job of being responsible with the ball. In a few of them you see Trevor pull it out late and make a play with it, so it’s fair to say there is a little bit of feel to it with guys.”

Big 12 Race Comes Down to the Wire

Oklahoma (6-2) currently sits just one game behind Oklahoma State (7-1) in the Big 12 standings this week. Both teams have just Bedlam on Dec. 7 left to finish conference play. Coach Stoops was reminded earlier in the week that possibility still exists for the Sooners to grab a share of their ninth Big 12 title.

In between OU and OSU are Baylor (6-1) and Texas (6-1). The Longhorns host Texas Tech on Thursday while Baylor will play at TCU on Saturday. Baylor and Texas will then face each either in Waco on Dec. 7, meaning that four teams with identical 7-2 conference records could sit atop the Big 12 Conference standings.

Oklahoma has won eight Big 12 titles, by far the most since the league began in 1996 (Texas is second with three titles). Since 2000, Oklahoma is 93-21 (.816) in Big 12 play, the best mark in the conference.

When asked about the possibility, Stoops echoed a familiar coaching refrain.

“You know you’re just fighting every week the same, so win or lose you’re constantly just trying to win the next one, so that’s what we’ll do this week,” he said.

Thanksgiving Schedule

With an open date this Saturday prior to next weekend’s Bedlam matchup, the Sooners took advantage of some extra practice days this week. Oklahoma practiced inside the Everest Training Facility on Monday and Tuesday afternoon. The squad is set for a midday practice on Wednesday before Coach Stoops gives the squad off for the Thanksgiving break. Players will be back in Norman on Sunday with a normal lifting and practice schedule resuming on Monday, Dec. 2. 

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