Like most Oklahoma fans Homerism knows, I just can’t bring myself to watch the video of Adrian Taylor’s horrific leg injury during the Sooners’ 2009 Sun Bowl win against Stanford.
Watching the defensive tackle’s teammates react like Lawrence Taylor after he snapped Joe Theismann’s leg, I think we all knew what a major setback it would be for Taylor’s promising career. With standout defensive lineman Gerald McCoy going pro, 2010 was going to be the year when Taylor would have a chance to fully realize his tantalizing potential.
Now, it appears as though Taylor will be fortunate to even make it onto the field in the upcoming year. The OU coaching staff clearly remains optimistic about his recovery, as Taylor is listed with the first team on the Sooners’ new depth chart. However, even if he does make it back next year, can the big fella regain his previous form? Tall order.
Time for Jamarkus McFarland to step up.
Oklahoma, Texas, LSU and USC put McFarland in the middle of a Times-worthy recruiting battle for a reason: He’s pretty good. Rivals ranked him as the No. 36 prospect in the country in 2009.
Even though the OU coaching has shown a tendency to keep freshman defensive tackles on the sidelines for a redshirt year, McFarland was thrown into the fire right away. He played in seven games last season and rang up 2.5 sacks.
Whether Taylor is healthy or not, the Sooners are entering the 2010 season painfully thin on the interior of the defensive line. OU has eight defensive tackles on the roster, four of whom are true freshmen. Unproven sophomores Casey Walker and Stacy McGee, an undersized ex-defensive end, are listed as the back-ups on the latest depth chart.
A dominant tackle can make an entire defense look better. McCoy, a supreme disruptor and potential No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, had that kind of impact in his three years as a starter for OU.
Expecting McFarland to replicate McCoy’s production and presence right off the bat would be foolish. If he can simply hold down the fort for a year, though, it should help keep the Sooner D from suffering too much of a drop-off from last season.