Noble Makes His Mark on D-Tackle Rotation

Daniel Noble is much farther along than a lot of freshmen defensive tackles that come through the system at OU.

The evidence of it: He recorded a pair of tackles the other day against Air Force as part of a very solid outing.

"He played a heck of a game, yeah," said OU head coach Bob Stoops.

It was a heck of a game that the 6-foot-3, 281 lb. product from Flower Mound's Marcus High School even admitted he didn't fully anticipate having this early in his career given the depth and talent at the position at OU.

"I really when I came in I was just determined to work as hard as I could, become as good as I could and advance as fast as I could," Noble said. "I wasn't really like expecting [to play]. I wasn't going to be disappointed if I didn't play. I just wanted to do the best I could."

That's paid off so far with his talented skill set.

"He's tough," Stoops said. "Well, he's physical. He plays with technique. He's tough. He's got good feet. He understands, you know, so he's going to be a really good player. You know, he already is, but I mean he has a chance to be one of those special ones if he keeps maturing."

Fellow defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland said he's not surprised.

"I knew he for was real when he first got here," McFarland said. "He takes everything seriously, and he learns really quick. And that's one thing that you can control. You can come in, and you don't have to be the biggest, baddest, quickest defensive tackle. But you have to be able to control what you can control."

And that's just what he's done.

"He approaches practice [with great focus]," McFarland said. "He takes coaching very well. He adjust to every scheme we put in, and he learns quick, as quick as some of us guys. He knows where to be, and when he's out there, he gets in the right spot."

Part of that deals with Noble being such a student of the game.

"Like I was saying earlier, I was trying to talk with Adrian Taylor all summer and learn as much as I can as fast as I can because, I mean, most of us coming in here have the skills but like you got to learn, get caught up with the game," Noble said.

For that reason, he said he's not shocked the transition from high school to college has flown so smoothly for him to this point.

"Not really, I've always thought I can learn pretty quick," Noble said. "And I really like to study the game and just get the technique down as fast as possible. It's definitely helped from the older guys and Coach [Jackie] Shipp helping me along so fast."

The last part, Coach Shipp's influence, has been pivotal.

"He's a great motivator," Noble said. "And he knows how to push your buttons. Like he'd say if he knows he needs to get onto me about something or if he knows he needs to reassure you about something else that you're doing, he'll find a way to motivate you and get the best performance out of his players."

While Noble's made the transition look easy, there have still been some tough spots.

"It's a little bit of both [a change mentally and physically]," Noble said. "Mentally it's overwhelming at first, I mean, a full playbook, all the new technique, everything like that. But definitely you got to get that down, so you can handle the physical part of the faster speed of the game, the stronger players and that kind of thing."

He's done well for the most part, though.

That's a big reason he plans on staying in the rotation for the remainder of 2010.

"Yes, I would like to," Noble said. "I'm working hard in practice, getting as many reps as I can, getting all the opportunities I can."

And because of that, the depth at defensive tackle just got that much stronger.

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