Oklahoma’s Jordan Parker provided starting experience in a backup role.
The seventh-ranked Sooners no longer have that luxury after OU coach Lincoln Riley announced the sophomore reserve will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Parker was hurt during a punt return in the first quarter of Saturday's game against UTEP.
He started eight games in 2016 as a freshman — making 36 tackles and forcing a fumble — but began this season behind sophomore Parnell Motley on the depth chart. The two competed for the spot in fall camp.
Parker’s absence leaves freshmen Tre Brown and Tre Norwood as OU’s primary cornerback reserves going into Saturday’s game at No. 2 Ohio State (6:30 p.m., ABC). The Buckeyes exposed that position in a 45-24 win in Norman last season.
Both Brown and Norwood gained experience playing against UTEP, recording two solo tackles apiece. Norwood added a pass breakup.
“The way they played the other day. … They came in and didn’t miss a beat. I know the kind of athletes they are, I know their mentality and I know they’ll play very well for us,” Riley said.
This is the second health setback for Parker in the past six months. He suffered a stress fracture in his foot in April, which contributed to Motley entrenching himself as the starter.
Parker tweeted a positive message about his situation Monday.
“Still completely with my team in faith, I have no doubt in my mind that my brothers will continue to handle business,” Parker wrote.
• Learning from Texas A&M collapse: UCLA trailed Texas A&M by
34 points in the third quarter of
Sunday’s game in Pasadena, only to roar back for a 45-44 victory to complete
the second-largest comeback in FBS history.
Riley said he caught the last 5-10 minutes of the game.
“Stuff like that is good for our guys to see because there’s situations you talk about, and you talk about the general mentality of having to finish games, or on the other side never giving up and never thinking you’re out of it, but when they actually see it happen with someone else, it’s more real,” he said.
Every OU player who spoke at Monday’s press conference — safety Steven Parker, quarterback Baker Mayfield, linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and offensive tackle Orlando Brown — was well aware of the game’s result, even if they didn’t watch it.
“It’s one of those things where you’ve got to finish the game, and that’s what A&M didn’t do,” said Parker, who watched the full game. “It basically tells you, don’t let your foot off the gas and don’t ever relax.”
The thriller helped cap the first full weekend of college football. Riley later added he wouldn’t be opposed to playing a Thursday or Friday night game in Week 1, or even playing during Week 0.
“Especially now with camp being like six months long,” he joked, “it’s really smart. Going two days early is even better. You can end camp sooner and then get on to your game prep and have a few days extra for the second game.”
OU’s earliest opener since 2000 was an Aug. 25 home game against North Carolina in 2001.
• No update on Lampkin: Riley wouldn’t address Saturday why defensive tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin and receiver A.D. Miller didn’t play in the opener.
Monday, the coach said no decision on the players’ statuses had been made going into Ohio State.
Freshman Tyreece Lott slid into Lampkin’s spot behind Neville Gallimore and tallied four tackles against UTEP.
• Weber back for Buckeyes: Ohio State’s leading rusher last season, Mike Weber, will play in Saturday’s game against OU after missing last week with a hamstring injury, Buckeye coach Urban Meyer announced.
Weber rushed for 1,096 yards in 2016 and was replaced by freshman J.K. Dobbins in last week’s 49-21 win against Indiana. Dobbins rushed for 181 yards, an Ohio State record for a freshman in a debut.
Riley tried to recruit Dobbins to OU.
“J.K. is a great kid. We had a great relationship with him. Great family. No surprise at all that he’s off to a good start there. We always knew he was gonna be a good player and a talented kid,” Riley said.
• Road warriors: OU has won 11 consecutive true road games, a streak that dates back to 2014, when TCU beat the Sooners 37-33 in Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.
Ohio State will put that streak to the test. The Buckeyes opened as a 7.5-point favorite, according to OddsShark.
“Block out the noise and take the crowd out of the game early,” Parker said. “Those are the biggest keys.”
Okoronkwo believes he thrives in road environments.
“I like going into enemy territory and silencing the crowd,” he said. “Our defense, that’s what we want to make our identity. We can play anywhere, home, away. … It’s something I look forward to.”