NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma returned to the practice fields for the first time after spring break for a two hour and 10 minute workout in full pads.
Senior quarterback Jason White is finally cleared to go through full contact drills and was the first OU quarterback to take snaps with the first team in nearly every drill on Wednesday.
Each of the Sooner quarterbacks got reps with the first team, but White was always the first followed by Paul Thompson, Noah Allen and Brent Rawls. Thompson had a good day throwing the ball and Allen was fair, while Rawls continues to struggle in with his touch passes in the short passing game. Thompson doesn't look like OU's prettiest QB at times, but he completes passes and gets the job done.
"Jason is going through all the drills that he has been," said OU Head Coach Bob Stoops. "He could have payed in the first scrimmage and would have done fine, but our doctors held him out and that is fine with us. He gets enough work in teams drills that we know enough about him. He threw the ball well today, but he has been throwing it well all spring."
White began the practice with just one brace on his right knee, but then put a brace on his left knee before the start of team drills. Stoops pointed out after practice that they require all of their quarterbacks to wear two braces during the team drills.
At running back, senior Renaldo Works seemed to be getting more work (pun intended) with the first team offense than usual. It's obvious that Works produces on gameday and the Sooners are trying to figure out what role he is going to play next season. Works got reps in both the one-back set and two-back set, with J.D. Runells as his fullback.
Another back that seems to be getting a lot of attention from running back coach Cale Gundy is sophomore Donta Hickson. Hickson, has apparently separated himself as OU's third back behind Kejuan Jones and Works, busted some assignments today and got a lot of correcting from Gundy. OU loves the way he runs with the ball it's obvious that they're working hard with him to learn his assignments so that they can trust him during a game. One source told us if he puts it all together... watch out.
Oklahoma's offensive line regained some much needed depth today when redshirt freshmen Chris Messner returned to practice after being cleared from his injury. Messner worked a right tackle, and that helped free up Chris Bush from having to spend backup time at tackle so he can concentrate more on left guard and center.
"We've been waiting for Messner to get healthy so we can have an additional tackle," said OU offensive line coach and running game coordinator Kevin Wilson. "If Messner can go we need to give him all the work he can get along with Brett Rayl at the other tackle. It would give us the opportunity we need to get Bush in at left guard."
"We really think Bush can do a lot of positive things for us in the offensive line," Wilson continued. "He can play two or three different positions, and I think he can be a valuable player for us. But we need somebody else to step up at tackle and we're hoping Messner can do it."
OU's receiving corp continues to look good and deep. Mark Clayton, Brandon Jones and Travis Wilson looked the best on this day.
Wilson seems to be finding his niche in the slot running short routes, while Clayton seems to be developing into the polished receiver the Sooners are looking for to fill the shoes of Antwone Savage. Clayton is always perfect running his routes and has even bulked up considerably in his upper body.
Ataleo Ford had the big play of the day for the receivers when he caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from Rawls, that was more Ford's doing then Rawls as he had to adjust to make the catch in the endzone.
On defense, it was status quo as the Sooners continued to work on the various packages in their nickel and dime defense. In fact, it's amazing how OU's defense hasn't changed much since the Stoops brothers and Brent Venables arrived in Norman.
"I was just thinking this morning, while sitting in a meeting, that we we've been going over the same calls on the same plays that we were going over when I was a freshmen," said junior defensive end Dan Cody. "I guess you could say nothing needs to be changed. We run a great defense and it s somewhat complicated, so we go over it and over it and over it. Because there's so many aspects to it it's something we can do a number of times and the defense can really never catch on."
Cody, who has firmly supplanted himself as a starter at defensive end alongside Jonathan Jackson, talks about his newfound starting role.
"It's a great feeling," said Cody, on being a starter. "I had a similar feeling a couple years ago when I was a starter. Just knowing you're appreciated and the coaches have confidence in you is great."
"I've always known I was hard worker, but I work harder because I don't want to lose my position. I realize there are guys like me behind me who want to start too. It's a great feeling to know that I'm a starter at the University of Oklahoma."
Cody's fellow defensive linemen, Jonathan Jackson and Dusty Dvoracek, continue to impress and had great practices today. Dvoracek sacked Thompson and also had the play of the day when he intercepted Noah Allen and took it in for the score, despite the fact that the ball was nearly stripped from behind by Mark Clayton while he was doing his best ‘Leon Lett' imitation while running into the end zone.
Mark Bradley continues to impress at cornerback as got another interception, this time picking Brent Rawls on a poorly thrown ball. Eric Bassey, who was thought to be out of practice with a bad hamstring, surprised everyone and returned to practice today. Brandon Shelby had another great practice with his ability to blitz and bat down balls.
The Sooners will return to the practice field again on Friday at 3:45 p.m.
PRACTICE REPORT: White cleared for action
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