Oklahoma's first scrimmage during preseason workouts supplied only one touchdown for the offense, but there was enough excitement and talent on both sides of the ball to give hope that the Sooners can make another run at a national title.
For the most part the running backs stole the show as Quentin Griffin, Renaldo Works and true freshman Kejuan Jones made several spectacular runs. However, all eyes were on quarterbacks Nate Hybl and Jason White, and again neither quarterback really separated himself as the starter.
"I really felt pretty good about all of our quarterbacks," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops. "What is fun to watch is that they all avoided the bad plays and you didn't seed the bad throws or bad plays that would lead to big mistakes and turnovers. They took care of the ball for the most part and Hunter Wall and Brent Rawls got in there and they looked good. So, it is a good situation that will continue to evolve and work it's way out."
Hybl and White both received several opportunities with the first unit with White directing the only touchdown drive of the scrimmage. However, a Renaldo Works 53-yard touchdown on a shuttle pass was called back because of a holding penalty with Hybl under center.
White showed outstanding mobility in the pocket and the ability to throw on the run. Hybl was able to dump the ball off and showed poise in the pocket and just missed on several deep throws.
Hybl finished the day 21-of-35 for 151 yards, while White was 13-of-19 for 61 yards and one touchdown. That was accomplished despite the fact the defense practically knows what is coming and the Sooner defense put on such a rush that six passes were batted down by the defensive line.
"Scrimmages are a little difficult for our offense to work against our defense, because our defense sees them every single day," said Stoops. "They are really schooled in what our offense does and our offense is at a disadvantage that way. We understand that, but it is alright that it is the most difficult of circumstances. We were still able to get some good work in."
White and Hybl may be similar talents, but they are different types of people. They react to situations in different ways.
"I need to look at the film before I can really tell you how I played," said Hybl. "I know we can't continue to make penalties like that and put ourselves in bad situations. I missed a few throws that I know I can make and will make in the future. For a first scrimmage I feel pretty good about things, but again I need to look at the film."
"I felt the offensive line did a great job blocking up front," said White. "I had plenty of time to look over the defense. The receivers caught the ball, so it was a pretty good afternoon."
While the Sooners feel they have two very good quarterbacks they probably feel they have four outstanding running backs as well. ‘Q", Works and Jones all had their moments and on their ability alone they were able to make spectacular plays. "Q" finished with 29 yards on seven carries and he scored the one touchdown. Plus, he hauled in eight passes for 46 yards. Works was sensational running in traffic and running through tackles finishing with 15 yards on three carries, while catching four passes for 17 yards.
However, Jones may have stole the show in his first real action for the Sooners. Showing tremendous quickness. Jones proved that he could make defenders miss leading all ball carriers with 35 yards on four carries.
"We have some very talented running backs here at Oklahoma," said Sooner Offensive Coordinator Mark Mangino. "Quentin has proven how valuable to us he is over the past couple of seasons and he is a better player this season. Renaldo had some outstanding runs and proved that he is a better player than he was a year ago. Then Kejuan excited the fans with some of his ability. We knew when we recruited him that he had a chance to be a great player and he certainly showed that tonight. Jerad Estus is also a talented running back, but didn't get a chance to show it tonight. We are pretty confident that we can run the ball and we were able to tonight."
The Sooners first team offensive line of Frank Romero (LT), Howard Duncan (LG), Josh Smith (OC), Mike Skinner (RG) and Wes Sims (RT) did a good job for the most part. At times, they didn't pass block as well as they need to, but they did much better in the run game than most people expected.
On defense, Tommie Harris worked with the first unit and had a solid game up front. Harris has been the Sooners best defensive tackle thus far in camp and it is not a reach to say that he could very well be a starter against North Carolina. Kory Klein was the other starter at defensive tackle, while Jammal Brown and Bary Holleyman worked with the second unit. Juan Prishker was held out of practice with a lower back problem.
Brown knocked down two passes and had his best practice this summer, and gave hope that he may finally be growing into his vast potential.
"I am just now feeling comfortable with what I am doing here at OU," said Brown. "I am having to learn so much technique, because it is so different from that I was doing in high school. I had been doing everything wrong for so long that it's been tough for me to learn the right way. I am glad that I redshirted last year. There are five things that I need to remember and when I do those things right then everything will be fine."
Jimmy Wilkerson was held out of the scrimmage due to a sore shoulder, thus Brandon Moore, Teddy Lehman and Rocky Calmus started at linebacker when the Sooners were in the their basic set. However, OU worked out the nickel package a great deal.
Russell Dennison worked a lot with the second unit at strongside linebacker and showed good athletic ability, but it's evident that he still has a lot to learn. In the secondary, Andre Woolfolk started at corner and played both ways. Derrick Strait was the other corner and had a super scrimmage. Antonio Perkins was run over once, but he was always around the ball and covered well. Roy Williams was outstanding and Terrance Simms and Darren Stephens were solid. Starting free safety Brandon Everage missed the scrimmage due to a sore ankle.
Behind Griffin, Will Peoples led all receivers with four catches for 38 yards with Josh Norman next with four catches for 37 yards. Trent Smith pulled down two passes for 25 yards and Donley had one catch for 12 yards. However, it must be noted that starting wide receivers Antwone Savage and Curtis Fagan were not a big factor on this day in the receiving game.
Jeff Ferguson hit booming punts and just avoided injury on a punt rush drill. Ferguson had a punt blocked and he was knocked to the ground by Larry Pinson. Ferguson screamed in pain, but eventually walked off the field under his own power. Coach Stoops said Ferguson was not seriously injured.
Tim Duncan was a little inconsistent kicking field goals, missing three on the night, but he has been kicking the ball well all spring.
In all, the Sooners the scrimmage will give the Sooner coaches something to build on, and they have to be encouraged as well. The Sooners have a talented football team and that was certainly evident on this night.
Stoops pleased with opening scrimmage
Sooners Illustrated Top Stories
OU spring photo gallery: First practiceSooners Illustrated's photo gallery from the first day of OU spring practice.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 11:15 AM
OU coach Bob Stoops favors Big 12 CCGIt's a guaranteed rematch, but OU coach Bob Stoops is in favor of the Big 12 having a conference championship game once again.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 10:03 AM
Video: Baker Mayfield addresses arrestOU quarterback Baker Mayfield addresses his off-season arrest in Arkansas, says moment won't define him.
Sooners IllustratedTuesday at 4:28 PM
OU coach Bob Stoops feels like an OkieOU coach Bob Stoops isn't thinking about leaving the Sooners anytime soon and is more of an Okie than ever before.
Sooners IllustratedTuesday at 8:06 AM
OU 17-for-2017: Is this Obo's defense?The OU 17-for-spring 2017 continues wondering if Obo can be the man for Sooners this year?
Sooners IllustratedTuesday at 7:40 AM