Spring press conference notebook

NORMAN, Okla. — Head coach Bob Stoops met with the media Thursday to preview spring ball, and Sooners Illustrated breaks down the most important conversation.

  • Stoops said offensive guard Nila Kasitati and fullback Aaron Ripkowski will not participate in spring ball. Offensive guards Adam Shead, Bronson Irwin and Tyler Evans, as well as running back Daniel Brooks, will be active this spring, as will tight end Taylor McNamara after spring break.
  • All the freshmen have been cleared to play except for defensive end D.J. Ward. The Sooners are still waiting on the NCAA Clearinghouse with respect to him.
  • Quarterback Drew Allen, as expected, is working out but not with the team. He's finishing up his coursework and transferring after the semester: "Drew is working out and will graduate, and will have the opportunity to play somewhere next year. He's a wonderful guy and he'll do well for someone."
  • He expects a three-way quarterback battle and one that could last into fall camp between Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson. The uniqueness of each of those guys is they all can run and that will be implemented into the offense. To what degree? Stoops would not say: "To a degree it will be different. We'll do our best to not give away exactly how we want to do it, but in the end, there will be a little bit of that for sure."
  • There's been rumors of OU switching to a 3-4 defense, but Stoops said they'll just switch in and out of the 50 front. That's something that's been discussed heavily amongst the coaching staff in the offseason: "Yeah, I know there's been a lot talked about going to a 50 front. That's something that we have done some in the past. It's something we'll do some in the spring. But we won't do it solely. We'll still be in our four-man front as well and we'll work some different guys in the rotation in there inside. But we'll also experiment because I think it's a positive to be able to jump into a 50 and do some of that stuff like we have in the past."
  • Stoops wouldn't go too much into the decision to fire three coaches and hire three new faces since the Cotton Bowl beatdown by Texas A&M, but one has to assume recent recruiting and an attempt to bolster it had a lot to do with the moves. He confirmed that was a factor: "Well, I think you always are in that, you know, that's always part of the equation. But these guys do have strong backgrounds in—strong backgrounds on the field in coaching and in recruiting. And so, you know, that's always a part of it."
  • Undoubtedly, OU snatched up three really good hires in defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and tight ends/special teams coach Jay Boulware: "I do feel fortunate for a strong university that is going to allow us to try and hire the best people we can, and we've had a good tradition of championships and success all around which makes it an attractive place. We hired three really great coaches."
  • A serious lack of depth right now exists at defensive tackle for spring ball, so they'll have to do some shifting with the personnel: "We'll see. That's something we're going to experiment with when we start practicing."
  • As has been reported for quite some time and even Montgomery himself confirmed yesterday with the media, he'll coach the entire defensive line. What does this mean for Bobby Jack Wright? He's moving back to assist Mike Stoops in the secondary with emphasis on corners: "I'm gonna have Coach Wright is gonna work with the corners. Mike's got safeties. You know, in our league we play a lot of five DBs for sure, sometimes six. I think more eyes there will be a positive for us. And Jay Boulware will have tight ends and be the special teams coordinator."
  • Gabe Lynn will take Tony Jefferson's vacant spot at free safety, while Julian Wilson will work at nickel and Quentin Hayes will be the strong safety. That said, Stoops also likes his young talent at defensive back: "Yeah, I'm sure there will be a little bit of experimentation there. Guys like, Julian Wilson, who's played a ton, will get more. Zach Sanchez and different guys will have more opportunities. Kass Everett is another guy who has played some and is ready to play. We'll experiment a little bit in some different spots. Cortez Johnson, a transfer from Arizona, is a big, long guy who can play. Aaron Colvin has consistently been of our best players and is a great leader for us. It will be fun to see these guys out there competing."
  • OU will have a punting competition between JUCO transfer Jed Barnett and Jack Steed. Stoops likes that battle: "Right now, Jed has the most experience. He's been doing it more a couple of years. The guys have gotten better, so, we'll see where it goes."
  • One major question offensively outside of the quarterback battle is how will the Sooners replace the experience and production of Kenny Stills and Justin Brown? But Stoops isn't so concerned considering what he's seen out of the youngsters: "Yeah, the other guy too is, Durron Neal. When he was in the game he did a great job and was a big-play type guy. Derrick Woods was really great all year long and was one of our scout team players of the year. Trey Metoyer I feel is ready to come on and gets it now. I think all of those guys are going to be solid and good for us next year. Dannon Cavil is a really impressive young man. He's all of 6'3, maybe 6'4, and he's already up to 215 pounds. He's really handled all the workouts, and that's how you can tell when a guy is really ready for it."
  • Also, Stoops had a comment about today's release that OU will play at Baylor on a Thursday night (Nov. 7): "Yeah. You know, we have an off week before it. So, it's something that we discussed. You know, in the end with the new television agreement, everybody's gonna have to have their hand in the next couple of years in playing a game on a Thursday night. With our situation with the stadium right on campus, it really isn't conducive for us to host one. So, we're gonna have to go somewhere and play one. I'd rather do it where we have an off week before, don't get trapped where you gotta go do it on a short week, that kind of like. So, I think in surveying it and analyzing it with Joe [Castiglione], we thought this may be the best scenario in that the off week ahead of it and a relatively short trip."

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