Man in the Middle

Austin Box

When OU middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds went down with a season ending injury it was assumed that former Enid High star Austin Box would probably get the nod as his replacement. They would be right, but it would just take one week longer than expected.

Austin Box was the man that many speculated would take over at middle linebacker for Ryan Reynolds, who went down with a season ending ACL injury in the Sooners 45-35 loss to Texas, so it was somewhat of a surprise when safety Nic Harris got the call to fill in for Reynolds in Oklahoma's 45-31 victory over Kansas.

On some levels it also had to be somewhat of a disappointment for Box, who was slotted to be the starting weakside linebacker before suffering a knee injury which required arthroscopic surgery just a couple of weeks prior to the season opener.

Box would only have to bide his time on the sidelines for one more week, as the OU coaching staff decided that he was ready to handle the starting duties against Kansas State, but as luck would have it he would not be the guy to get the start.

On the very first play of the game Box came crashing down in kick coverage and Kansas State linebacker Ulla Pomelle would put a solid lick on him forcing him to the sidelines whincing in pain and forcing him to miss the first couple of plays.

"I thought a shark bit him or something the way he was screaming and running off of the field. He was telling me to put it (shoulder) back in. He must have never had a stinger before. You feel like you are in boiling water. It feels like it is just boiling and it is hot and you can't lift it," OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables said with a laugh as he explained why Box missed the first couple of snaps.

"At first I didn't know what was going on," Austin Box confirmed. "The pain was pretty severe for a minute or so, but I wasn't too worried about it. I knew it wasn't too serious."

"It is football. It will happen. I just got a little shaken up on that play, but I was back out there with-in a couple of snaps."

Box may have been a little foggy for a while after that hit, but he settled in to a groove and ended up finishing second among OU defenders by collecting nine tackles

"I was pleased with how he played," Venables admitted.

Box was excited to get his chance, but he does not feel like he or his team is in any position to celebrate.

"I think so," Box said when asked if he was pleased with his play, especially in the second half.

"But I still wouldn't like to think that I played good just because of the outcome of the game. We gave up almost 500 yards passing and that is just unacceptable to us and our coaching staff."

"That is just not the standard we hold here. That is something that we are going to have to work on and something we are really going to be urgent about during practice."

Box is definitely looking forward to strapping the pads back on and going after Nebraska in front of a capacity hometown crowd.

"Football is what I love to do and I am excited for this week," Box beamed. "I can't wait to get back out there!"

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