NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -Oklahoma's Nic Harris had been told before that he looked like a middle linebacker. After getting his first chance to actually be one, the feeling wasn't so great.
``I feel right now that I just want to go home and get in bed,'' Harris said after becoming the new core of the defense for the fourth-ranked Sooners.
With a little deception, Oklahoma decided to move Harris from his strong safety spot into the middle to shore up a gaping hole created when Ryan Reynolds went out with a season-ending knee injury a week earlier. After some growing pains early, the move to what's essentially a base dime defense was mostly effective in keeping Kansas at bay in a 45-31 victory on Saturday.
Harris has played as a nickelback, outside linebacker and most recently at strong safety before taking over Reynolds' position. He joins another converted safety, Keenan Clayton, in Oklahoma's linebacking corps.
the win, and we went out there in the second half and really, really stood our ground.''
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said the Sooners prepared several options, including a sturdier package with linebacker Austin Box involved. But against Kansas' spread offense, he went with Harris' experience and versatility while inserting backup Quinton Carter for his first career start at safety.
``This is my third linebacker position that I've played throughout the course of my tenure here,'' Harris said. ``It's extremely different because this is pretty much the center of where everything happens, and you've got to know exactly what's going on and who's doing what throughout the course of the game.''
A week earlier, Texas had taken advantage of Reynolds' injury to exploit the middle of Oklahoma's defense with receiver Jordan Shipley coming out of the slot and then gashing the Sooners with a big run by Chris Ogbonnaya that all but sealed the Red River Rivalry win.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops and Venables had indicated throughout the week that it'd be Box who'd play the most important role in replacing Reynolds, although rumors of Harris' move slipped out even with all practices closed.
``I didn't feel it was to our advantage just to let them know what we were planning on doing,'' Stoops said.
e ended up leading the Sooners with 10 tackles.
Harris also had to learn all the additional responsibilities of a middle linebacker, reading the offense and adjusting the defense accordingly.
``It is tough. Everyone thinks you just line up in there and go play ball,'' Stoops said. ``Offenses don't allow it to be that simple.''
Lewis believes there are some advantages with the Big 12's high-powered offenses - six teams are in the top 13 in the nation in passing - to having more defensive backs on the field. But that doesn't mean Oklahoma is locked into the smaller, speedier package.
Venables said he'd decide on a week-by-week, or even play-by-play, basis which package to use, depending on personnel. If Kansas State (4-3, 1-2) emphasizes its two-back sets on Saturday, that could mean more involvement for Box - or maybe some more creativity from the Sooners' coaches.
But the debut of the quasi-dime package was at least worth keeping as an option.
``Some parts were good, some parts still need polish. We kind of expected that,'' Stoops said. ``It's good to have the experience in doing it, and everyone will learn from it and make some adjustments from it and get better at it.''

Recent NCAAF Discussions

Public buries sports books on Tue, Jan 2017 by Timmy1961
Pick Wiz Play 1/15 on Mon, Jan 2017 by Michael Cash
2nd half play ne/hou on Mon, Jan 2017 by Strakey
NFL Championship Betting News and Notes on Mon, Jan 2017 by Blade
NFL WKEND SIDES &OV/UN 8-0 on Mon, Jan 2017 by armyranger
Advertisement

NCAAF Headlines

  • MINNEAPOLIS (AP) New Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck has hired nine coaches for his staff, including offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and defensive coordinator Robb Smith.
    The Golden Gophers a...
  • The University of Oregon has suspended football strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde one month without pay after three players were hospitalized following a series of intense workouts las...
  • (STATS) - Furman will open the Clay Hendrix coaching era with a Sept. 2 trip to its oldest rival, Wofford.
    The opener is part of an 11-game schedule announced Tuesday.
    Furman and fellow S...
  • (STATS) - Southeastern Louisiana will seek to build on a successful season in its 11-game 2017 schedule that was announced Tuesday.
    The Lions, under coach Ron Roberts, reversed a 4-7 record in...
  • (STATS) - Wyoming secondary coach Curt Mallory is expected to be named Indiana State's new coach, according to reports.
    Mallory, 47, has never been a head coach. He is the son of former Indian...
Advertisement

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail 2018 National Championship Odds Despite losing to Clemson on Monday night, Alabama has opened as the favorites to win the 2018 College Football National Championship.
Thumbnail Title Game Spread Holding Steady After some initial movement, tonight’s college football playoff national championship point spread is holding steady hours before kickoff.
Thumbnail Clemson vs. Alabama Prediction Will Alabama cover tonight against Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship or will the Tigers pull off the upset?
Thumbnail Watson/Hurts Championship Props Which impact player will step up tonight in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game? Here’s some notable player prop odds for Clemson and...
Thumbnail CFB Championship Injury Report Will No. 1 Alabamaand No. 2 Clemsoncome into tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championshiphealthy? Here is the latest on the injury report.

NCAAF Team Pages