NORMAN, Okla. – It's starting to happen so much that it's simply no longer a big deal. But it really is a big deal as Oklahoma continues to utilize one freshman after another to start the season.
It was never on more display than in a 51-20 victory against visiting Tulsa on Saturday afternoon. Freshman cornerback Stanvon Taylor made his first start. Freshman running back Keith Ford scored his first touchdown.
There are going to be a lot of firsts for OU young guns, and they're going to happen a lot sooner than almost anybody thought possible.
"He's a young, talented back," said OU coach Bob Stoops about Ford. "He ran hard and ran strong."
Ford rushed for 46 yards on seven carries, punctuated by a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. With senior running back Damien Williams serving a one-game suspension because of a violation of team rules, Ford was given more a chance to show what he can do.
He also had a 23-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Defensively it wasn't just Taylor making an impact. But Taylor did fare well in his first start. He had three tackles and broke up two passes before injuring his ankle late in the first half. Stoops said Taylor will not miss any practice time.
Linebacker Dominique Alexander didn't start the game, but he was in a constant rotation with Julian Wilson throughout. When it looked like a running situation, Alexander was in. When it looked like a passing down, Wilson returned. Alexander finished with four tackles.
"I think there's a lot he can grow from," OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.
In the past OU has been criticized for not developing depth when the situation has presented itself. That certainly hasn't been the case this season.
There's a lot of good that comes with that. But Mike Stoops knows there's still a lot of work left to be done.
"I think they played OK," said Stoops about his young guys. "We gave up some things. We extended drives and couldn't get off the field on some drives.
"When you're young, you rush. You're rushing everything, learning how to disguise and moving with the flow of the game. It's hard for young players just because they are so in a hurry to get things done. It's just things they'll get better at."