Wort Proves He Belongs

Redshirt freshman linebacker Tom Wort was a marked man a week ago. He was getting heat left and right for missing assignments and tackles in a victory against Cincinnati to the point where his future in the starting lineup was in question.

Now, fast forward a week to the biggest and usually the most important game on the No. 6 Sooners' schedule: the Red River Rivalry. Wort recorded a team-tying high 10 tackles, including two for loss and a sack, and was seldom out of position against the Longhorns on Saturday.

"After that Cincinnati game, I said that I was my own worst critic and I obviously need to play better than that," Wort said. "So I came out this week, you know, with an edge, came out every day in practice just really locking down my technique and my reads in the game film."

But Wort could not make the immediate turnaround on his own, and he does not take all of the credit. He gives the credit to defensive coordinator Brent Venables for getting on him to do the basic fundamentals and junior linebacker Travis Lewis for giving him the right advice like a true team captain would.

"Travis, he talked to me and just said, ‘It's time for us to knuckle down; it's a huge week for us,'" Wort said. "So, me and Travis, we worked hard all week, and it paid off."

Wort's improvement on such a big stage proved to his teammates he can be relied upon, and hopefully this is not just a one-time deal, Lewis said.

"For as big of a game as that was and to perform like he did, that's big time and that goes a lot with your teammates and the coaches," said Lewis, who also led the team with 10 tackles against the Longhorns. "Plus, he bounced back. He didn't have the game he wanted and he bounced back and he had a great game. I'm proud of him. Hopefully he can keep doing it."

Wort does not call his season-best performance a finished product, but he does feel it proved he belongs on the field and will use it as a stepping stone in his progression.

"I'm not going to say that it feels that any pressure has been lifted off, but it just shows that I can perform at this level and I need to do that every week," he said. "I'm going to come out with that same edge every week, and I'm going to work on improving every week.

"I still think I'm nowhere near my potential, and I know coach [Venables] knows that, so I'm just going to come out every week and hopefully I keep getting better."

With junior linebacker Austin Box possibly returning after the bye week, Wort is going to need to continue his progress if he wants to be in the starting rotation against Iowa State and for the rest of the season.

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