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Big 12 notes: more injuries at WVU, Baylor; Gundy sounds off

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

West Virginia and Baylor, two teams that figure to battle in the middle of the Big 12 standings this season, are struggling to get through practices without disastrous injuries.

The Mountaineers, who last week lost junior free safety Dravon Askew-Henry to a season-ending knee injury, are now down a fourth defensive player from a unit that was already being rebuilt.

Freshman linebacker Brendan Ferns, a four-star recruit who had been impressive thus far, suffered a torn ACL Monday and will be out for the season. Ferns was in the mix to be the backup to Al-Rasheed Benton. Ferns was the 2015 Ohio Division IV Defensive Player of the Year.

The Mountaineers already have lost reserve nose tackle Jaleel Fields to a torn ACL this summer, and freshman cornerback Jake Long is done for the season after shoulder surgery. Reserve defensive end Xavier Pegues underwent off-season shoulder surgery and might not be back until late October.

Baylor backup running back Johnny Jefferson, one of the team’s two returning 1,000-yard rushers, has been sidelined because of a foot injury and acting coach Jim Grobe expects Jefferson to be sidelined for some time. Jefferson was already banged up in a car accident last week.

“Everybody handles pain differently,” Grobe said of Jefferson. “If the trainers and doctors feel like he can handle the pain and can go, we’re pretty apt to try to push him to get back on the field. With the running back, the problem is if your wheels are banged up. A big part of his ability is he’s a physical runner and he’s got great balance, but a big part of him being successful is his foot speed.”

Defensive tackle Byron Bonds, a 6-foot-2, 290-pound senior who was listed as the starter on the depth chart, has been out with a knee injury. Grobe said he’s not sure Bonds will play this season. The Bears’ defensive line has to replace all of last year’s starters. Bonds was one of three returnees who gained action last season.

Gundy outspoken against expansion

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy recently a birthday. And, yes, he’s a man — he’s 49. Plus, he has no qualms about speaking his mind. On Tuesday, he was on Jim Rome’s radio show talking about the Big 12 expansion plans. Gundy is against adding teams.

“Now, I’m not an administrator, and I don’t get the bottom line on statistics and numbers and whatever that may be,” Gundy said. “I said it a year or two ago and even before then that the Longhorn Network created an issue for this league, period.”

Gundy wasn’t done:

“Then secondly, there was a lot of talk about our league with expansion and there were some issues with College Football Playoff. Well we got a team in last year, and two years ago if we would have just said our Big 12 champion is Baylor, in my opinion, we would have marketed them enough to get them in so we would have been two for two with the College Football Playoff. We have nine conference games, the league is not watered down … so I say no.

“I just feel like I have a right to an opinion and whether people like it or not, I can’t determine that.”

Oklahoma keeps Siebert fresh

Austin Siebert had an outstanding freshman season as Oklahoma’s kicker and punter. He made 18 of 23 field goals and averaged 42 yards per kick as the Sooners’ punter. However, Nick Hodgson, who handled kickoffs, has exhausted his eligibility. If Siebert also has to handle kickoffs, there’s concern about leg fatigue.

OU special teams coordinator and running backs coach Jay Boulware is making sure that Siebert isn’t being overworked.

“He doesn’t kick every day,” Boulware said. “He’s on a day, off a day. And I don’t want him to get more than three days in a week. We’re going through camp. I’m really just trying to manage him and make sure that he’s able to go the entire season.”

NDshirtQuick slants

  • The Notre Dame Club of Austin is throwing shade at Longhorns fans. In preparation for the season opener that has the Irish playing at Texas in the season opener on Sept. 4. It will be the 12th meeting between the two iconic programs with the Irish having a 9-2 edge. The Notre Dame Club is selling t-shirts that say “Messin’ with Texas since 1913” on the front with “Not our first rodeo” with the game-by-game scores on the back.
  • Baylor’s thin offensive line received some help this week. Tyrae Simmons, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior from College of the Sequoias has been cleared to play. The Bears were down to seven scholarship offensive linemen before Simmons’ arrival. He won’t start practicing until Baylor receives his final junior-college transcript.
  • Jacob Park, a 6-foot-4, 205-pounder who started his career at Georgia as a four-star recruit, appears to be set as Iowa State’s backup quarterback. Freshman Zeb Noland was competing for spot to backup Joel Lanning but he suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. Park, who has three seasons of eligibility remaining, did not play football in 2015, instead focusing on academics at Trident Technical College in Charleston, South Carolina.

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