Oklahoma will have an extra week to figure out how to move forward without All-American receiver Ryan Broyles.
Already dealing with the loss of starting running back Dominique Whaley to a broken ankle, the No. 7 Sooners (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) took another blow Saturday when Broyles suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third quarter of a 41-25 win against Texas A&M.
Broyles shattered the NCAA record with 349 career receptions and he ranks second all-time with 4,586 receiving yards. Oklahoma will miss him as a reliable receiver who could line up outside or in the slot and wiggle free against any coverage.
"All he has put in and the effort and everything he has done since he has been here, the man he is, we will need him to bring those characteristics to us even with the injury,'' offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said.
"At the same time when someone steps down or someone goes down the next guy steps up and can play at a high level. They can't take someone's role, but they can become a playmaker, take advantage of the opportunity.''
The speedy but undersized Broyles returned for his senior year after recording 1,622 yards on a Bowl Subdivision-best 131 catches last season with 14 touchdowns, hoping to improve his NFL draft stock and maybe get a chance to play for a national championship.
"He knows he has a challenge in front of him, and he'll face it,'' coach Bob Stoops said. "We will have another guy in that position. The offense will continue just as it has been.
"Obviously, he is a big piece that is not there, but there are other guys that will have to step up and make those plays.''
Broyles has been quarterback Landry Jones' security blanket since Jones first stepped in as the replacement for injured Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford two seasons ago. Broyles had twice as many catches as the Sooners' second-leading receiver, Kenny Stills, this season and no one else has ever been as productive.
Oklahoma has gotten increased contributions in recent weeks from Jaz Reynolds, who had a dazzling, one-handed touchdown catch for the second straight game. Trey Franks, whose role has been diminished since a two-game suspension earlier this season, figures to get more chances now that Broyles is hurt.
"He is our impact player,'' defensive end Ronnell Lewis said. "I can't put it into words how it is going to affect the team, but we are going to bounce back.
"There are going to be shoes to fill but we have guys that are playmakers who can step up and fill those shoes.''
Stoops and his coaching staff can figure all that out during practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as Oklahoma has an open week before playing Nov. 19 at Baylor. It's the first of two straight games against opponents the Sooners have dominated for decades, perhaps giving them time to adapt in time for the Dec. 3 Bedlam rivalry showdown against No. 2 Oklahoma State that amounts to a Big 12 title game.
Oklahoma has won all 20 of its games against Baylor and has won 11 in a row against Iowa State in a series that has seen the Sooners go 68-5-2. The Cyclones visit Norman on Nov. 26.
"Losing a team captain always hurts, but this just means that we have to step up our game as receivers and show everyone what we're made of,'' Reynolds said. "Having the rest of us step up and continue playing is just an early showing of what's coming next year.''