NORMAN, Okla. – No coach is going to make excuses. Injuries are simply a part of the deal, but Oklahoma was dealt with its toughest card yet.
Senior fullback Trey Millard suffered a torn ACL in the fourth quarter of OU’s 38-30 victory against 10th-ranked Texas Tech on Saturday evening.
“I'm just crushed by it,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “I hate it. He's such a strong part of our football team. It will be tough to overcome that loss.
"Just an amazing young man. Hopefully he can recover from it.He will be a guy that will have a bright NFL career.”
The injury came two plays after Millard did what he has done so well during his time at OU, which is make plays. Millard had a 14-yard reception that featured another Millard hurdle of a tackler before OU’s Damien Williams punched it in to make it 35-24 with 11:04 left in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Millard had his leg rolled up and was helped off the field.
“He’s the best player on our football team,” senior center Gabe Ikard said. “He’s the most versatile player on our team. My heart is just broken for him. He’s the heart and soul of this team. We’re going to have to adjust to him not being there.”
It’s not an easy adjustment, but it is a common spot now for this year’s OU club. Millard is the third starter to be lost for the season and the second team captain.
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips is out with a back injury, while senior linebacker captain Corey Nelson is missing the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Other guys are filling in and doing a serviceable job for Phillips and Nelson. It won’t be one guy that fills in for Millard, not with everything he brings to the table.
“He's a great teammate and player so it's going to hurt," senior safety Gabe Lynn said. "But this isn't the first loss. Corey and Trey are probably the best guys I know, but we'll be back.
Millard’s value has always gone beyond the stat book. The Tech game was another example of that. His line doesn’t jump out. One rush for six yards and one reception for 14 yards. But he has always been singled out by Stoops for his ability to block and put the team first.
Stoops was battling mixed emotions following the game. Excited about a hard-fought victory but his heart was also with Millard.
Millard wasn’t the only starter to get injured. Linebacker Frank Shannon was injured during the first quarter, leaving Jordan Evans to play the majority of the game. Evans had eight tackles and a pass breakup. Stoops said he did not know the extent of Shannon’s injury.
OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel summed up losing Millard this way.
"All you can say about Trey is he is the best in the country in doing what he does," Heupel said. "It's been that way for a long time. We're going to miss him."