OU spring game: immediate thoughts

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners took to the field Saturday afternoon for their annual Red-White game, and Sooners Illustrated breaks down some key points.

The Sooners took to the field Saturday afternoon for their annual Red-White game, and Sooners Illustrated breaks down some key points.

1. Blake Bell is starting to separate himself as the favorite at quarterback—The junior threw a number of nice balls, including a couple deep passes that wowed the crowd. With that, he tossed two touchdowns on the day. Bell also showed nice movement out of the pocket and was clearly the best decision maker on his way to finishing 14-of-23 for 213 yards. That's not to say Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson didn't do good things, though, as those two each also threw a touchdown. But it at least appears Bell's experience is beginning to pay dividends towards him winning the starting spot.

2. There looks to be a major drop-off in the punting game—This just in: Tress Way might have spoiled Sooner Nation. New punter Jed Barnett's first boot went a measly 13 yards. Granted, it was into the wind, but still that's unacceptable. He picked it up some after that, kicking a 46-yarder with the south wind en route to averaging 36.4 on his five punts. But overall it was quite inconsistent between he and Jack Steed, who finished with three punts and a 38.3 average.

3. The receiving game showed a lot of potency but at times left some to be desired—There's no question the electricity is there with all the many talented options, but there were several dropped passes, most notably by wide receiver Trey Metoyer and tight end Taylor McNamara. Both of those balls, one each thrown by Knight and Bell, hit them in the numbers and fell to the Owen Field grass. All that said, there were also some really nice plays made. Wide receiver Durron Neal acrobatically leaped and snagged a Bell pass down the sideline for a touchdown. Metoyer also came down with a couple beautiful snares. He led all pass-catchers with six receptions for 122 yards. Overall, consistency simply needs to improve.

4. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips emerged as the best performer up front for Mike Stoops' unit—He wreaked some havoc in the backfield and beat his blocker on a consistent basis on his way to recording a sack and three total tackles. There's no question Phillips is going to have to be a big time producer if this defensive line wants to have any chance at major improvement, and he showed by this performance he has that potential. That's great news for the Sooners.

5. Cortez Johnson is taking the lead for the vacant corner position—If his outing in the Red-White game is any indication, Johnson is certainly poised to impact this defense in 2013 after sitting out following his transfer from Arizona. If Stoops' comments are any more indication, he could be emerging as the second starting corner. He had high praise in postgame interviews for Johnson, who displayed nice cover skills and anticipation on the ball with his pass broken up and tackle. Definitely look out for him come August.

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