With the defense presenting a much better challenge, junior Nate Hybl and sophomore Jason White continued to wage their battle for the coveted Sooner starting quarterback job.
While quarterback isn't the only position worth watching, you can't help but always notice what one or the other is doing. Knowing that the race is close you get the feeling that who wins the job could depend on any single play.
"That is the good thing about it, both of us competing against each other know that every play counts and that every snap counts," said Hybl. "Every little rep in practice counts and I think that has been good for both of us. I think both of us are better players for it."
"I think the competition has been fun and I certainly have become a better player for it," said White. "On every play we are trying get better, so why shouldn't we be evaluated on every play?"
Bob Stoops would not tip his hand on who will be the starting quarterback, stating that in a couple of days he might announce a starter. However, the general consensus among the media is that Hybl had his best scrimmage of the spring Wednesday night and sewed up the starting job with his all around play.
Hybl was the first quarterback on the field with the first unit and was the first quarterback on the field during the two-minute drill at the end of practice. In between, both Hybl and White had equal reps running the Sooners' offense with the first and second unit.
"I thought all of our quarterbacks look good, really, all four of them did," said Head Coach Bob Stoops. "Nate and Jason played very well and the best thing about them is that they didn't make any mistakes and protected the ball. I think we will name a starter within the next couple of days, after we sit down as a staff and really look at the film of this scrimmage. At that point we should know who our starter is."
Hybl completed 24-of-29 passes for 179 yards and one touchdown on a perfect 35-yard strike to junior wide receiver Antwone Savage. Hybl hit a perfect post route to Curtis Fagan for a 24-yard gain down to the one as well. Somehow, Fagan held onto the ball as true freshman Justin Williams laid the hit of the scrimmage on the junior, but Fagan survived. Hybl also showed outstanding presence in the pocket and threw the ball away when he needed to.
White hit on 11-of-18 passes for 141 yards and had a nice 20-yard touchdown pass to Fagan. Once again it seems Fagan is the playmaker among the wide receivers finishing with eight catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. White showed off his playmaking ability hitting redshirt freshman Mark Clayton on a 35-yard sideline route on 3rd and long to keep one drive alive.
If Hybl does indeed earn the starting job what will probably tip the odds in his favor is his intelligent and heady play. Hybl doesn't beat himself and doesn't hurt his team very often, while White and the other quarterbacks are a little more reckless. White is very close in this area, but when you have a coaching staff that got used to Josh Heupel the past couple of years, they will play with the most consistent quarterback and right now that appears to be Hybl.
Once again, Josh Smith sat out the scrimmage due to a concussion leaving true freshman Vince Carter to get the bulk of the work with the first unit. Carter was solid and appears to be playing his way into a starting position with the Sooners.
It was obvious that Offensive Coordinator/Line coach Mark Mangino wasn't pleased with the offensive line play during the scrimmage. He pulled several players out of the lineup for poor play or because they committed a penalty. All-American candidate Frank Romero wasn't exempt from this as he was pulled at one point in favor of true freshman Kelvin Chaisson because of a mistake. Romero was back in the lineup on the next series, but Mangino's point was made. Nobody, not even Romero, can make mistakes and stay in the lineup.
Starting guard Mike Skinner bruised his knee during the scrimmage forcing Mangino to move some players around. Chike Ozumba played some at right guard along with senior Will Mathis. Mathis also got a few snaps at center. Howard Duncan started at right guard, but also played left tackle, subbing for Wes Sims who played with the first unit most of the night.
Quentin Griffin was outstanding early in the scrimmage and earned the right to sit out at least half of the action. Renaldo Works was outstanding again and continues to prove that he is a much-improved player from a year ago.
Jerad Estus had his second straight strong scrimmage as he and Works both found the end zone.
The quarterbacks threw to the running backs a bunch out of the backfield with the with five different backs combining for 17 catches on the evening.
On defense, it seemed like Kory Klein was playing against air. He was always in the offensive backfield and finished with 2.5 sacks. Klein was also solid against the run and he and true freshman Tommie Harris once again worked as the starting defense tackles with Bary Holleyman and Jacob Hager working the with second unit. Dusty Dvorazcek (heat problems) and Juan Prishker (lower back, leg) both missed the scrimmage, but are expected back on Thursday.
At linebacker it's amazing to watch the starting group work. Rocky Calmus was Rocky, seemingly always around the ball. Young pups Teddy Lehman and Jimmy Wilkerson were flying around the field and proved once again that because of their great speed that they are never out of a play.
Andre Woolfolk started at cornerback and also played on offense. It's obvious that the talented junior is so good that he will play on both sides of the ball and be great on each way. Derrick Strait played well at cornerback, while Roy Williams and Terrance Simms worked at safety. Brandon Everage sat out once again because of his ankle injury.
Antonio Perkinsalso worked with the first unit at corner and was solid in the Sooner nickel packages. Walk-on Brian Hodges continues to impress with the second nickel group and Jarvis Smith continues to improve as a second cornerback.
Tim Duncan continued his impressive camp making field goals from 45, 52, 59, 64, 26, 22, 32, 42 and 52 yards, while not missing a field goal short of 50 yards (52, 71, 62, 62).
Stoops said following the scrimmage that he would not be afraid to let Duncan try a 60-yard field goal with time running out before the first half or with the game on the line in the second half.
Redshirt freshman Mark Clayton appears to be winning the punt return job, but he is still being pushed by Perkins. Savage and Fagan are the top two kickoff return men with Damian Mackey and Clayton backing them.
Gayron Allen is the middleman on the front line of the kick return team. Allen has impressed the Sooner coaches with his intelligence and his ability to make plays. Allen is the type of player that Sooner coaches will find a spot for somewhere on the playing field.
Woolfolk and Strait were the first unit gunners on punt coverage teams. Calmus seems to be on all special teams along with Lehman, Williams, Trent Smith and Wilkerson.
Former Oklahoma State Head Coach Bob Simmons was on the Sooner sideline taking in the scrimmage. Before the start of the scrimmage, Simmons and Coach Stoops chatted briefly. Simmons is touring several college and pro practice camps this summer as he takes a year off before deciding if he wants to get back into coaching or not.
The Sooners continue two-a-days Thursday morning at 8 a.m.
The following are the stats from Wednesday's scrimmage.
Nate Hybl 24-29, 179 yards, 1 TD (35)
Jason White 11-18, 141 yards, 1 TD (20)
Hunter Wall 6-8, 39 yards, 1 INT
Brent Rawls 5-6, 27 yards
Quentin Griffin 6-41 yards
Renaldo Works 8-32 yards, 1 TD (11)
Jerad Estus 8-29 yards, 1 TD (1)
Kejuan Jones 5-18 yards
Donta Hickson 2-20 yards
John Connor 1 (-1)
Quentin Griffin 2-24
Antwone Savage 3-46, 1 TD (35)
Trent Smith 1-6
Mark Clayton -36
Josh Norman 1-10
Lance Donley 2-8
John Connor 1-2
Chris Chester 2-11
Kejuan Jones 2-14
Ataleo Ford 2-16
Donta Hickson 1-1
Adam Creath 1-3
Brandon Jones 3-21
Andre Woolfolk 1-9
Damian Mackey 2-14
Jerad Estus 6-15
Renaldo Works 7-68
Curtis Fagan 8-84, 1 TD (20)
Made -- 45, 52, 59, 64, 26, 22, 32, 42, 52
Missed -- 52, 71, 62, 62
Kory Klein 2.5
Roy Williams 1
Cory Heinecke 1
Jacob Hager 1
Jimmy Wilkerson .5
Hybl stars in final tune-up
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