Shannon steps into the limelight

NORMAN, Okla. — Last weekend was the coming out party for an unexpected member of the Sooner defense.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Frank Shannon, who previously had only three tackles in the first three games, came up with a massive game in OU's 41-20 victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium.

He finished with six tackles, including a sack at one of the biggest points of the game.

With the Red Raiders trailing 24-13 but driving early in the second half, Shannon blasted through and sacked Tech quarterback Seth Doege on a fourth-and-5 play from the OU 36.

Moments later, the Sooners found themselves up 31-13 with all the momentum, a lot of it coming from that fourth down stand.

"I just went into the game thinking that I had to go out there and play hard and make good plays and read my keys and stuff, so it was basically good," said Shannon, who admittedly graded out high with 26 positive points.

Shannon bothered the Red Raiders in defensive coordinator Mike Stoops' blitz packages all day and was sound in pass defense.

All of that points towards more playing time for the youngster out of Skyline (Texas) HS.

"Yeah, I think he'll play more," Stoops said. "I think he'll continue to develop playing time as he moves through the course of the season."

What it also means is linebacker Tom Wort, who has started 25 games in his career and played in 28, could now be splitting playing time with the rising linebacker.

But Stoops insists even though Shannon has worked his way into more playing time, Wort is currently still the No. 1 guy at the Mike position.

"Well, Frank played exceptionally well and continues to earn more playing time, but as of right now Tom's our starter," Stoops said. "We just want to bring Frank along and continue to give him more snaps."

The reasoning for getting the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Shannon more action is fairly simple.

In the Big 12, there is nothing short of a plethora of spread offenses that can fling the ball around.

Shannon appears poised to be a good defender in the passing game, as he showed the other night, while Wort is more effective in games featuring more power run-oriented teams such as Kansas State.

"I would say that's a really accurate statement just because of the spread offenses," Stoops said. "He's built for more downhill. He's a big, physical middle linebacker, but we're going to see a big part of that in this week's preparation, too. I mean Texas comes right at you. They're going to try to wear you down, too. So, again, I think that's right up Tom's alley."

As for Shannon getting more playing time, that's something he's excited about.

However, he said the preparation won't be any different from what it has been for any other game this year.

"Yeah, I'm going to go into this week thinking the same way," Shannon said. "I mean, it's up to the coaches I guess [how much I play]."

What's not up to the coaches is that very preparation.

That's been something which has impressed his teammates, how diligent he's been in the film room and also out on the practice field.

"Mentally, I just go in and watch film every day and study the film sheets and stuff," Shannon said. "I mean in practice in stuff every day I was just working hard and stuff. I just knew that whenever it was my time to get out there on the field I had to make plays and stuff."

That, he did.

Now, he carries a confidence around him having done it.

"Well, me personally I felt like I could always do it, I just hadn't got the chance to yet," Shannon said. "I guess I still feel the same even though I went out there and did good, but I just gotta keep going hard every week."

Hard work will lead to continued success out there, and continued success will lead to more playing time.

More playing time at a winning level, in turn, will lead to continued improvement in a defense that struggled last year but is showing a lot of growth early this season under Stoops.

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