It didn’t feel like much. It was just another random play by Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield where he extends the action and makes something happen.
It wasn’t a huge gain to sophomore Mark Andrews in the first quarter against Texas Tech, but it did turn out to be a season-changing play.
Andrews was driven into the turf in Lubbock and suffered an AC sprain, something he finally revealed last week. The word around the watercooler was Andrews wasn’t 100 percent, but nobody had any real idea of just how bad it was.
“It’s been tough,” offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “The position he plays is such a physical position. When you’re injured like that, you’re either practicing and you get it re-injured and you get banged up and it never heals or you don’t practice and you’re not as ready to play. It’s a double-edged sword. We’ve tried to walk the fine line on it.
“We’ve had weeks where we thought it was going good and then it was re-injured in practice and he wasn’t able to do much. We have had weeks where we didn’t work him as much and weren’t comfortable playing him as much.
For the season, Andrews has 28 catches for 416 yards and six touchdowns. But you can break it down to pre-AC sprain and after-AC sprain to get a real feel of what Andrews has done during his redshirt sophomore season.
Andrews in the first six games and the one quarter in Lubbock had 18 catches for 305 yards and four touchdowns. In the final five games, just 10 receptions for 116 yards and two scores.
Bowl preparation allows for players to get healthy, and Andrews is certainly hoping that will indeed be the case when he gets to New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl vs. Auburn.
“It’s huge,” Andrews said. “I’ve had a little bit of an injury and it was just kind of a nagging thing and it didn’t feel too good. Just getting some rest is huge for me. It’s an injury that with time is going to heal and not having that contact, so this rest is really going to help me move along with that.”
Andrews’ injury didn’t hamper the offense. OU likes to say it’s too deep and it’s next man up and this time around it was Geno Lewis who came up big. Struggling to find his role in the first half of the season, Lewis played a key role, especially on third downs.
So the goal is not to reverse it back where Lewis goes away Jan. 2 and Andrews emerges, but Andrews is hoping he can go back to the type of production it seemed like he was headed for after the first six games.
“It got frustrating at times. I thought I got plenty of reps,” Andrews said. “It wasn’t like they were sitting me or anything like that. I think everyone has stepped up and made plays. My injury may have showed a little bit, but I just need to continue to get better and move on from that.”