John Hoover

John E. Hoover: Anderson’s injury, possibly long-term, casts pall over Sooners’ big win over UCLA

John E. Hoover: Anderson’s injury, possibly long-term, casts pall over Sooners’ big win over UCLA

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma won on Saturday — won big, actually, 49-21 over UCLA — but it felt a little like a loss.

Star running back Rodney Anderson went down in the first quarter with a knee injury and watched the second half from the sideline in street clothes.

Anderson, who accumulated more than 1,000 yards rushing in the final seven games of 2017 and averaged 20 yards per carry in last week’s season-opener, could be the Sooners’ most important player outside of quarterback Kyler Murray.

“We’ll see on Rodney. Don’t have anything definitive,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “So we’re gonna hope for the best and we’ll get some official word on it and we’ll see where he’s at.”

Afterward, a source close to the team said OU’s medical staff, in performing the usual checks and examining Anderson in the locker room, feels the injury is likely a torn ACL in his right knee, but doctors are hesitant to make it official until seeing results of an MRI.

Anderson, a third-year sophomore, missed his first two seasons at OU with a broken leg and a fractured neck vertebra.

The Sooners’ backfield duties now may belong to sophomore Trey Sermon, who rushed for 744 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman last season, although he had just seven carries for 13 yards against the Bruins. Sophomore Marcelias Sutton (five for 33) and freshman T.J. Pledger (seven for 45) also got action.

Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (2) comes down with a touchdown pass in front of UCLA defensive back Nate Meadors (22), rear, and defensive back Quentin Lake (37) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Oklahoma won 49-21. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

But if Anderson is out for any prolonged amount of time, the Sooners’ leading rusher Saturday — quarterback Kyler Murray, 69 yards on 10 rushing attempts — could see an expanded role in the ground game.

“It’s unfortunate,” Murray said. “That’s all I have.”

Any extended absence also likely would impact the passing game. When Anderson got into the starting lineup last season, he caught 17 passes for 218 yards and five touchdowns.

“We’re lucky. Rodney’s a great player. And like I said, we’re certainly gonna hope for the best,” Riley said. “But we’ve got other great players in there, and honestly, playcalling-wise, design and all that, it’s not gonna change a whole lot. We’ve got confidence in the guys we have there. They all have dynamic skill sets. They can all catch the ball. I got no issue throwing the ball to any of ‘em. And they can all pass protect.

“That’s part of the deal at that position. It’s a physical position, and we understand that’s part of the game. We’ve worked hard to build depth and now it got a chance to show today.”

To read the rest of Sporting News’ OU-UCLA game story, click here:

John Hoover

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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