December 31, 2007

OU pulls Granger from Fiesta Bowl after arrest

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Oklahoma defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger will miss the Fiesta Bowl after being sent home from Arizona following an arrest for shoplifting.

Granger, a starter, was arrested Saturday in Tempe after he tried to steal a jacket from the Burlington Coat Factory inside Arizona Mills Mall, Tempe police reported.

"Mr. Granger removed an anti-theft device from a jacket and then concealed the jacket in a bag. He exited the store walking past the cash registers without paying for the jacket," Mike Horn, a spokesman for the Tempe Police Department, said in a statement.

The 21-year-old Granger admitted committing the offense and was booked into the Tempe City Jail on one count of shoplifting, Horn said. He later bonded out of jail.

A 307-pound run stuffer, Granger had recorded 35 tackles to tie for the most among the Sooners' defensive linemen. He also had 3 1/2 sacks among his 8 1/2 tackles for loss this season.

"DeMarcus Granger was sent home yesterday, will not play and we'll deal with the situation when we get back," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Monday during a media day at University of Phoenix Stadium. "If there's anything further, we'll see."

Granger had started 11 of 13 games for this season, but No. 3 Oklahoma (11-2) does have some experienced depth at the position to help fill in against the potent rushing attack of No. 11 West Virginia (10-2) on Wednesday.

"We just go with the other guys. Gerald McCoy, Steven Coleman, Cory Bennett, those guys have all been solid. Adrian Taylor will get more snaps," Stoops said. "All of those guys have played through the season for us, so it doesn't change anything we're doing."

Granger came to Oklahoma as a highly rated recruit from Dallas before redshirting in 2005. He played as a reserve last season, but emerged from fall camp as the starter alongside McCoy.

"It's a big loss. He's a key to stopping things up front," said defensive end Auston English, who led the Big 12 with 9 1/2 sacks this season. "He's a great motivator for us. He makes big plays up the middle. His presence out there, somebody will have to step up and make up for it."

With a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton leading the way, West Virginia has the No. 4 run game in the country with a 293-yard average. Granger could have been a key to slowing the Mountaineers.

"They have a great run game. They're quick, they're fast, but it's nothing that we haven't seen before," McCoy said. "We're just going to go out there, play our game, keep our same game plan.

"Penetration is the key to all the run game, and we've been emphasizing being great tacklers this week because the guys are slippery and they're fast."

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