The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 31, 2008

Sooners’ Box expected to play against Cincinnati

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer

NORMAN — Enid’s Austin Box, who sat out Oklahoma’s 57-2 rout of Chattanooga Saturday after having knee surgery earlier this month, should play this week against Cincinnati.

“I anticipate he will,’’ said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

Whether Box will return to his starting weakside linebacker spot is uncertain.

Travis Lewis, who started in Box’s place Saturday, led the Sooner defensive charge with four solo and two assisted tackles.

“He’s got to go back there and earn it,’’ Venables said of Box. “We’ll see how it goes.’’

Mike Balogun, a junior college transfer, had been expected to start in Box’s place. Lewis started, Venables said, because he was more consistent in practice.

“There’s a lot of things that go into it,’’ Venables said, “but the most consistent guy is going to be rewarded. Travis played well for us tonight.’’

Who is the most consistent in practice this week will determine if Box or Lewis or Balogun starts.

“Yup, that’s exactly right,’’ Venables said.

The Sooner linebacker corps of Keenan Clayton on the strongside and Ryan Reynolds in the middle played well as a unit with Lewis, Venables said.

“There was great communication out there,’’ Venables said. “They were able to collect information from the sideline before I had to get on them. That’s part of the maturation process. I’m pleased with that.’’

Reynolds had two solo and two assisted tackles in his first start at middle linebacker.

“He’s always around the football,’’ Venables said. “He has a good feel for the game and a good understanding of the game. He has good technique. It didn’t surprise me how well he did.’’

The Football Championship Subdivision Mocs managed only two first downs against the Sooner defense. Chattanooga, with 65 scholarships, was obviously outmatched. The Mocs were 2-9 last season.

Venables said the numbers were still impressive and were a tribute to the Sooners’ preparations.

“Your preparation won’t change every week,’’ he said. “It should be the same. Anytime you ask a lot of your guys in preparation and work and you have success, it leans creditability to what you’re asking them to do. For the most part it was clean and not sloppy. I was pleased.’’

Defensive end Auston English, coming off an appendectomy earlier this month, didn’t show any signs of rust. He was credited with 2.5 sacks for 19 yards in losses.

“He’s explosive and quick,’’ Venables said. “He’s a straight shooter. He’s not being humble.’’

Enid freshman redshirt offensive lineman Kody Cooke got in his first varsity game, according to the OU sports information department.