Spring football is done at Oklahoma. The Sooners were able to get everything they could from 14 practices and the spring game and now the focus goes toward the 2015 season.
So what did we learn? Sooners Illustrated is going to take a position-by-position approach to see what we know now (or what we don’t know) going forward at OU.
The tight end position is probably the biggest victim of Oklahoma’s changing offensive scheme. There isn’t a coach on staff designated to the position, and after a potential-laden freshman season, Dimitri Flowers has been a no-show during much of spring.
There’s no place for an Aaron Ripkowski on this team, although he would still make for a great leader. Instead, Mark Andrews has been turned from a traditional tight end to an inside receiver. Tight ends aren’t block-first options anymore.
The Sooners have clearly made the tight end a mismatch monster waiting to happen.
“He’s definitely not a guy that’s gonna put his hand down on the ground every time,” Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight said of Andrews. “Knowing a little bit about this system they’ve brought in and it’s kind of the perfect system for him.”
It’s in a very different way than last year, but the “tight end” position could have a far greater impact than it did in the past for Oklahoma. Last year, Blake Bell had 16 catches and four touchdowns all season last year.
Andrews had 56 yards on two catches in the spring game and finished fourth in receptions all spring. Andrews and Carson Meier were both in the top three in yards per catch at the inside receiver position – both had more than Sterling Shepard.
There will still be a few cases where Andrews or Meier line up with their hands on the ground. That’s still the biggest change for Andrews, who came to Oklahoma at a four-star receiver.
“It is the biggest transition,” Andrews said. “It’s a little foreign, you know, those guys on the defensive line will hit you a bit.”
Andrews won’t have to block much in new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley’s offense, which has also made the fullback position nearly irrelevant – based on what’s been seen around spring practice.
Andrews is better off making plays in the open field, where he’s almost unguardable by anyone but the most elite defenders. That’s good use of a tight end.