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August 18, 2012

Notebook: Wort on Kish, Nelson. Grissom a starter at TE

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When Tim Kish announced Tom Wort was banged up, just as it seemed fall camp had started, a slight panic permeated through the Sooner fanbase.

"He's not 100 percent healthy, but we can't use that as an excuse for him," said Kish of his starting middle linebacker. "He's got all kinds of nicks and that's typical for what you have as a football player. We're trying to balance that and manage that for him.

"He's got a back, he's got an ankle, he's got a shoulder. It's not anything that surgery wise, it's just stuff that's got to heal. And it's tough to heal when you're going through camp. But he's got to play."

SCOOPHD: TOM WORT DISMISSES INJURY RUMORS

Those statements from Kish sent up red flags all over the place. How was OU going to put together a defensive back driven defense without its best linebacker?

SoonerScoop.comTom Wort had questions too. Like what was Tim Kish talking about?

"I found out about injuries I didn't have when I heard that interview," said Wort. "I got calls the next day from my mom, and friends saying, 'Are you banged up? Are you hurt?'

"I was like, nah, I'm fine. What are you talking about?"

It didn't take long for Wort to speak to Kish about his phantom injuries following his comments.

"I confronted coach Kish about it, like what are you talking about? He agreed. He apologized, said it had been blown out of proportion. That was a weird deal.

"I've been fine, full speed all camp. Not limited on any reps, nothing like that - been full speed."

COREY NELSON BACK ON TRACK

Corey Nelson has been a key cog in OU's defense over the last two seasons. As a true freshmen, Brent Venables did everything he could to get Nelson on the field.

Last season, Nelson was one of the bigger playmakers on OU's defense. Nelson actually tied Ronnell Lewis for the second most sacks among defenders (5.5 sacks) and piled up 59 tackles in his sophomore season.

During the spring, it seemed Nelson had basically been replaced by Joseph Ibiloye in the starting lineup. Apparently, for a good reason.

"In the spring, he was a little bit out of whack I thought," said Kish early in fall camp. "Just lot of things going on with his life at that time. Now he seems to be settling down, I think he's more focused this fall, which he needed to be.

"He's providing us with some leadership out there, but he needs to keep improving like everybody else. We're looking for him to be a leader out there."

SoonerScoop.comTom Wort spoke about Nelson's situation Friday, and confirmed he's back on track to be a difference maker in this defense.

"He's played a lot, he needs to step up and be able to play. For him to lose focus a little bit, it's a little unlike him," said Wort. "But he got back on track. He refocused in. He's back there making plays.

"He had a great summer. In camp, he played great, played within the system, wasn't thinking too much. He was just doing his job. He did a great job. I'm looking forward to seeing him improve."

GRISSOM IN POSITION TO START AT TIGHT END

Bob Stoops also cleared up the buzz surrounding comments he made to Sirius XM Radio this week concerning converted defensive end Geneo Grissom.

SoonerScoop.comStoops confirmed Friday he did say Grissom would be his starting tight end heading into game week preparations.

"He's been awesome," said Stoops. "We have really been pleased with him. In the summer when you're not able to coach them it's a little rough. But he's a talented guy.

"He does all of it the best. Meaning, they're all doing well. But with his experience and his athleticism to run... Playing defensive end you've got to be fairly tough, so he's used to running into defensive ends. He really has taken to it and to coaching. It really looks good. Every day it's gotten better. He's about 255, 6-4. He's what you look for. He's catching the ball well. It's been a real positive."

Taylor McNamara and Brannon Green will still be factors at the position. It's likely McNamara will play a larger role when the Sooners need another receiver on the field.

Stoops said Green has been an asset at the position when they need blockers. But it's obvious Grissom has been the best combination of receiver and blocker.

"He's no Brody Eldridge yet," said Stoops. "Brannon Green's pretty good, too. He's a little stronger and bigger. But he's doing a good job. We've been pleased with it."





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