Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

September 12, 2018 at 9:19 am.

Kempt’s status uncertain for Oklahoma game

Last year, Kyle Kempt emerged from obscurity to lead the Cyclones to an upset of then-No. 3 Oklahoma. This year, it will likely be someone else’s turn when the same opportunity as he watches from the sidelines.

The sixth-year senior suffered an apparent MCL injury in the 13-3 loss to Iowa last Saturday, leaving the game in the fourth quarter. While the injury appears less serious than originally thought, Kempt was in a brace early in the week.

The Cyclone coaching staff is optimistic it will have Kempt back sooner rather than later, and he hadn’t been ruled out of Saturday’s game as of Matt Campbell’s weekly press conference. Still, given the size of the brace, it would be a surprise to see him running out onto the field with the starting 11 this weekend.

If Kempt can’t go or plays limited snaps, backup Zeb Noland would move into the starting lineup. He entered in the fourth quarter last week and completed four of his 10 pass attempts for 43 yards. Not exactly awe-inspiring numbers, but he did get some of the jitters out and will be more prepared with a full week of practice for the Sooners.

After that, the depth chart gets dicier. Freshman Re-al Mitchell is more athletic, while Brock Purdy is the traditional pocket passer. Both are true freshman, and the Sooners are far from the ideal team to debut against. But both also are unknowns with little game tape to study. Oklahoma knows all too well how costly that can be when playing Iowa State thanks to Kempt’s heroics a year ago.

Oklahoma has no such problems. Kyle Murray may not quite be Baker Mayfield under center, but he’s too close for any defense’s comfort. Like Mayfield, he’s not only dangerous running and passing, he also has an excellent field vision that anticipates when a play is going to break down and reacts accordingly.

Avoiding negative plays will be a focus in practice this week. The Cyclones committed seven penalties and allowed four sacks at Iowa, and the constant backward motion kept the offense from moving the ball forward. Particularly if Kempt isn’t under center, Iowa State can’t afford any mistakes against Oklahoma.