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- American football coach
So much has happened in the last three weeks that the loss in the Pac-12 championship seems like five years ago.
Oregon enters the Alamo Bowl with an interim head coach in Bryan McClendon and will be missing key personnel as Oklahoma awaits the Ducks.
Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and wide receiver Devon Williams highlight several other Ducks who have either opted out of the bowl game in favor of their future or are too injured to play.
“We’re having to dig into some depth at some different spots. But most of it is all bumps and bruises associated with play,” McClendon said. “I think what we have to do is make sure that the guys are able to step up. It’s given guys some opportunities to be able to do that.”
The Sooners, however, are far from 100 percent as they will also be missing starters on both sides of the ball including linebacker Nik Bonitto, defensive end Isaiah Thomas and quarterback Spencer Rattler.
Oklahoma interim coach Bob Stoops will be dealing with the same situation as Oregon and while they will be missing some offensive players, most of their opt-outs are on defense.
“You’re not going to play with nine, 10 guys. We’re going to have 11 guys out there. These young guys want an opportunity and they’re good players,” he said. I’ve loved the energy, the way they’ve been playing on defense and practicing. I think Coach Odom has done an awesome job with those guys.
“Most of those guys are all up front. But we have some depth up there. These young guys that are going to get more snaps have to step up and play. But they’re capable of playing well. It will be a challenge.”
The opt outs will give other players the chance to shine who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have that much time on the field.
One guy Oklahoma will definitely be paying attention to will be tailback Travis Dye. Even though he rotated in and out with CJ Verdell before he got hurt, Dye was never the main guy in the backfield. When he got the chance, Dye made the most of it with is 1,118 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns.
“It was nice that guys looked at me to step up after CJ (Verdell) went down, and it was just nice to put in the work and the results come out like the way you want them to, like any running back wants it to,” Dye said. “But like you said, all I care about is winning, and the rest of the stuff will come.”
Dye and the rest of the Ducks will have one more chance to get in the win column in 2021. A victory would give Oregon an 11-win season and a nice jumping-off point for the Dan Lanning Era in 2022.
The Alamo Bowl is scheduled for a 6:20 kickoff and will be televised on ESPN.