Star OSU safety Tre Sterling was flagged in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s game vs. Missouri State for targeting. The ruling on the field was confirmed through video replay and he was ejected for the remainder of the game.
Sterling’s penalty came as Missouri State crossed the paydirt with 3:06 remaining in the game to cut the deficit to 23-15 (they made the ensuing PAT). Because the penalty occurred in the second half he will also miss the first half of next week’s game vs. Tulsa.
OSU has an experienced defense that should — should! — be able to withstand his absence next week. The unit played well on the whole against Missouri State, allowing only one touchdown on the night. But losing him even for a brief moment isn’t ideal, to be sure, even with Kolby Harvell-Peel and Tanner McCalister still holding down the back half of the secondary.
In his absence we could get an extended look at redshirt junior Sean Michael Flanagan, No. 2 behind Sterling on the depth chart. He played in all 11 games last season, primarily on special teams, but was a highly-touted recruit who could be ready to impress with his new opportunity.
Even knowing Sterling’s absence won’t be long, the bad news coming away from Saturday night is that isn’t the case for several key defenders. Mike Gundy said Saturday after the game that star DE Trace Ford is going to be out awhile as defensive tackle Collin Clay.
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