Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

September 12, 2018 at 9:19 am.

Sooners try to move on without Anderson

When No. 5 Oklahoma practiced Monday to start preparations for Saturday’s game at Iowa State, Rodney Anderson was standing with OU’s other running backs.

But Anderson wasn’t dressed out and won’t be on the field Saturday or for the rest of the year after suffering a knee injury in last week’s win over UCLA.

“It did feel a little strange,” senior running back Marcelias Sutton said. “He was there on the side, but he’s always talking and trying to put his input on things. He might not be there running the route, but he’s still there talking and motivating everybody even though he can’t run.”

For Anderson, it’s his third season-ending injury in the past four seasons. In 2015, Anderson broke his leg on a kick coverage play in the second game of the season. A year later, he broke his neck during preseason camp.

“The injuries that he’s had have been isolated,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said.

“It’s not like the guy’s gone out there and had four or five knee injuries on the same one. The way this kid can rehab and the physical specimen that he is, I don’t think this is gonna have any impact on the rest of his career in football other than it will delay for a few months.”

But that won’t do the Sooners any good this season, as they begin their pursuit of a fourth consecutive Big 12 title against the only team that knocked them off in the regular season a year ago.

The primary beneficiary of Anderson’s injury figures to be sophomore running back Trey Sermon, who for a time last year was Oklahoma’s top running back before Anderson’s emergence near midseason.

Sermon came up with several critical plays in a win at Ohio State and averaged nearly 17 carries and 111 yards per game during a three-game stretch early in the year.

“I just have to take advantage of it and that’s what I’ve been doing,” Sermon said. “Even today, just going hard every play and taking advantage of my reps as well as coach some of the other running backs.”

In addition to Sermon and Sutton, freshman T.J. Pledger also figures to play an expanded role after earning carries late in each of Oklahoma’s first two games.