Who Will Man the Middle?

Austin Box

The biggest question surrounding the University of Oklahoma football team is who will be stepping in at middle linebacker for Ryan Reynolds, who suffered a season ending ACL injury in Saturday's loss to Texas?

For a number of reasons middle linebacker was probably the one position on the Oklahoma squad that did not have a clear-cut number two option behind the now injured Ryan Reynolds.

"That was the one position that you really felt that was one that you couldn't afford to lose, because of the youth in the group," OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables informed.

"We already went in without having a great deal of depth and losing guys like (Curtis) Lofton and Mike Reed not working out really caught up to us when you lose Ryan (Reynolds) as well."

As luck (or bad luck) would have it that is now the position that the staff has to come up with an answer for entering in to this weekend's big contest, and there are a number of players in the mix.

As Bob Stoops quickly pointed out this evening the names are all ones that we have heard about and discussed before (Austin Box, Mike Balogun, and Brandon Crow).

"We had a number of guys that did well," Stoops said. "So we will be fine in there we will just work some different guys and get them ready to play."

"We will experiment some. We are not going to be real detailed about it. We will have a middle linebacker."

When looking for answers to the MLB question from the players they had all of the same answers as the coaching staff.

"Nothing is set in stone yet," Austin Box explained. "I know that at the end of the week we will have everything in he right place."

Box has got to be a player that is considered as one of the front-runners to win the job and he feels like he has the physical attributes to man the position.

"As far as being physical goes I don't feel overwhelmed at all in that position," Box answered when asked if he is physical enough to man the middle of the field. "At this point in time it all basically comes down to mental work."

Fans and members of the media have been making a compelling case that Travis Lewis could or should be a name that is in the MLB mix, but he contends that he will be staying outside, but if he is indeed called upon he plans to be ready.

"I will be at ‘will' linebacker making tackles," Lewis informed. "I am getting in to my groove at ‘will" right now and to put me at ‘mike' that would confuse me, so I think I am solid at ‘will' right now."

"If they called my number sure I would (be ready). I would prepare myself as mentally as much as I possibly could before game day. If they did it then yeah, but I would have to prepare for it."

One thing is certain, whoever gets the call is expected to go out and be ready to produce like an Oklahoma linebacker should.

"They are shuffling a few people around right now," Lewis said. "Whoever it is I am sure that I have the utmost confidence in whoever it is to make plays."

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