They’ve been the subject of criticism and controversy through most of last season and through the first part of 2012. But, for the past two weeks, the Oklahoma defensive line has anchored a pair of very impressive defensive performances which propelled the Sooners to big wins over Texas Tech and most recently Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
OU's Casey Walker is playing his best football since coming to Oklahoma
“Oh yeah, it always comes down to proving everybody wrong,” said Senior Defensive Tackle Casey Walker. “You don't want anybody talking bad about you, especially when you know that's not who you are. That's our big deal. Me and Jamarkus, David (King), R.J. (Washington), we're not that big of a name but we will show you what comes with it."
For the most part, the interior of the defensive line has just been Walker and Jamarkus McFarland. David King will slide over from end to DT is certain situations, Stacy McGee has been on indefinite suspension and younger players, such as Jordan Phillips, have seen very little playing time if any.
Walker missed the first two games of the season because of personal issues. But since his return, Walker believes he’s playing the best football of his career.
"Most definitely. It's a new me, a new year, new mindset,” said Walker. “I'm healthy. My ears are pinned back and it’s time to go."
Whether it was on the radio, the internet or just around the office water cooler, there has been a lot of talk about the defensive line, everything from underachieving to lacking in talent. Walker says he has no idea what the talk has been about.
"I don't listen to that stuff,” said Walker. “I don't let it get to me. I'm all about proving my point. If I do hear it or is somebody tells it to me then I want to prove them wrong. I always just go out there and play my game."
For the last two weeks, the defensive line has done just that. They have proved a lot of people wrong. Walker says it’s always easy to get up for Texas. But, there was a bit of bulletin board material to add to the flame last week.
"The coaches posted a couple of pieces of paper in the locker room talking about how Texas quarterback Ash said he goes against the best "D" line at practice,” said Walker. “So that kind of added some fuel to the fire. But, other than that it was all about just going and playing our game."
It’s possible that the Sooners could start a stretch run that may become known as Red October Part Deux. The Sooners will host Notre Dame in a couple of weeks that looks to be developing as a huge national game. But first, Oklahoma must put away a scrappy Kansas team when the Jayhawks visit this weekend.
"I think they are a real good team,” said Walker. “They're a good team like everybody else in the Big 12. The Big 12 has good school and good teams. So for us, we just have to go out there and play our heart out every Saturday."
It’s back to the lights for the Sooners and Jayhawks. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening on Owen Field.