Trials at tackle

NORMAN, Okla. — Heading into the season few expected the type of load David King and Jamarkus McFarland would have to pull in the opener against UTEP.

But an indefinite suspension to defensive tackle Stacy McGee and undisclosed personal issue with other tackle Casey Walker pushed King inside from the end position and McFarland into a starting spot there as well.

They played the entire evening because of the way the defensive staff operated personnel-wise.

Suffice it to say the two were exhausted and, to a certain extent, are probably still feeling it, although only one of the two said so.

"Sore, a little sore," King said after practice Monday. "But I mean, it comes with the game I think. Anybody who played on this past Saturday is sore. We're all gonna be getting in those cold tubs here all week. So, I mean, I'll be fine by Wednesday."

Said McFarland: "Man, I'm feeling pretty good. To tell you the truth, that surprises me. I'm feeling pretty good."

The bigger concern, though, is not just how they're feeling after this one but rather the situation going forward.

"It's a big factor because, like I said, physically we're fatigued," McFarland said. "Something like that, I mean, we try to do the best we can to not let the fatigue part happen. But if an injury or something, I guess God willing it doesn't happen, but that occurs, like someone has to be out there. We can't move just one."

Certainly, if McGee and Walker remain out of the rotation, that means at some point, especially in Big 12 play, the coaching staff is going to have to rely on some other guys if for nothing else than depth.

"Same guys. Jordan Phillips also and Marquis Anderson," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "So, we never rotate more than four guys, not usually, you know. Those four."

Yet if they're going to have those guys in the rotation it's interesting Stoops didn't even get Phillips in the mix the other night until late. Anderson, a redshirt freshman out of Cibolo Steele HS, saw the field on just a few plays as well, none of them meaningful.

All of this begs the question about their progress.

"Oh, they're getting there," King said. "I mean, they should get in there this weekend. You know, they got in the game and did some good things, but just gotta build off that this weekend, see what they can do in front of the Sooner crowd out here on Saturday."

If, after playing this week, those guys aren't far enough along and able to go in a crucial slate of games ensuing, then the depth could definitely be an issue.

It'll be all about King and McFarland until the other two return, if they do.

"I sure pray so," McFarland said. "But it's an opportunity for us, like I said, to get a feel for the game and to kinda get used to the pace to kinda get in that rhythm. So, at the same time we get a little bit more stats, a little bit more this and that, kinda get used to things. Not get cold, get hot, get cold, get hot. So, it has the positives to it, but negatives as well.

"Of course you want some young guys to be there since Casey was not physically able to go. We have to have somebody there to back us up, so yeah, we feel like we need somebody there to take that spot."

King, meanwhile, said it's not as much of a concern as it may seem.

"We'll be fine," King said. "Like I said, once we get the young guys comfortable with the game, we should be fine. Hopefully we'll get Casey back here in a few weeks and, you know, whenever Coach Stoops lifts Stacy's suspension, I mean, we'll be fine."

But will they get comfortable and will those guys return? That's the question.

And will the interior D-line be able to avoid an injury that could completely devastate them at this point?

"We don't have time to worry about what could go bad and this and that," said defensive end R.J. Washington. "If something happens, we'll adjust. If something else happens, we'll adjust. We get those good guys back, we have to adjust to that even. So good or for bad, I think we'll be alright."

The main thing, Washington said, is that they have a guy in King that's fully equipped for that move inside he's made, and McFarland is a definite strength as well.

"David likes playing three-technique," Washington said. "Like I mean… (pointing to King) look at David's arm. David's going to be all right. He's playing a little high, because he's used to playing defensive end where he can get away with that, but David will be all right. And then we got J Mac and Jordan Phillips is a big guy, too. We'd love to have Stacy and Casey back, yes, we're waiting on it. Hopefully it all works out, but it'll be alright. It'll be okay."

Time will tell on that one.

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