Linebacker Jamie Irving missed a second consecutive day of practice as he was seeing a doctor for back spasms and now appears unlikely to play against OU. That means A.J. Ropati, a junior college transfer who redshirted last year, will probably start in his first UTEP appearance.
On the plus side, he took at least half the first-team reps this fall with Irving in and out of the lineup.
"It's a lot of pressure, I have big shoes to fill for Jamie, but he's been helping me out and all the linebackers have been phenominal," Ropati said. Playing with the first team this fall "has helped me a lot. It's been making me better as a player and as a teammate."
Of the eight junior college players UTEP brought in in the 2011 recruiting class, five (quarterback Nick Lamaison, receiver Mike Edwards, Ropati, cornerback Darren Woodard and linebacker Josh Fely) should start against Oklahoma.