NORMAN, Okla. — After practicing Saturday at the new indoor facility, the Oklahoma football team returned to the intramural practice fields for their first practice in full pads this season.
And as has been the tradition with OU Head Coach Bob Stoops, the Sooners started out their first practice in full pads with the ‘Oklahoma' drill, which consists of a defender going head to head with a blocker while trying to also tackle a running back within a confined space.
"We have to start with the Oklahoma drill here at Oklahoma," said Stoops on the drill, which was made famous by former OU Head Coach Bud Wilkinson. "We have to start it that way or it wouldn't be right."
"It's what coming to Oklahoma is all about," said junior defensive end Dan Cody. "It's not something that you look forward to, except for those of us who like to put on the pads. It gets the team going and the offense and defense on each others sides. It's one of my favorite drills because it's a very physical drill."
"The guys competed well," Stoops continued. "It was a physical practice, but all our practices are physical. The guys like to compete and know how we like to practice. There was some hard hitting, but there always is."
One player who was very impressive today in the drill for the defense with two great hits was senior linebacker Pasha Jackson. Jackson, who hails from California, said he knew all about the drill before ever stepping foot in Norman.
"We ran the Oklahoma drill in San Francisco," said Jackson. "We know the history with Coach Bud Wilkinson. You can't come to Oklahoma and not know the history. We actually ran it more than in just our first practice like we do here."
Another player who knows about the Oklahoma drill, and was impressive doing it today, is senior defensive tackle Kory Klein.
"I was doing this drill when I was in seventh grade," said Klein. "I understand how this drill goes. This is the drill that makes you a man. Football is a series of one-on-one confrontations, and this is the ultimate one-on-one confrontation. You've got a small area. Either you're a man in this drill or you get whipped. And everybody's watching so you don't want to get whipped."
So who impressed Klein the most today going one-on-one with the offense?
"Davin Joseph is just so massive and large," Klein said. "Even if you get good technique on him he can do enough to make it hard on you.
"Vince Carter is also tough. It's not that he blows you off the ball, but he's a good, technical blocker. You think you've got him but he'll shade you to one direction and the runner will slip through. There's more little things to playing the line than most people know about."
Below is a position-by-position look at who did what during the Sooners' first practice in full pads.
Jason White continued to get most of the reps with the first team and continues to look very good in doing so. White's only miscue was a fumbled exchange with Kejuan Jones in the team drill, but he rebounded to connect on several great shorts passes and a deep pass over the middle to Travis Wilson. Sophomore Paul Thompson is still getting reps as the No. 2 quarterback and it still seems like he's yet to put it together so far this summer or make much happen. Thompson is very good at throwing swing passes but still has the bug of throwing short or behind receivers. Noah Allen received little action with the varsity, while Brent Rawls worked with the scout team against OU's first team defense in the team drill. Rawls, who has to be the best scout team quarterback in America, threw the ball well and really tested the defense working with the third string receivers. It's obvious that Rawls is doing everything in his power to impress the coaches and is taking a lot of chances, and he even pulled out a side arm pass to avoid the rush on play.
The battle is on between Renaldo Works and Kejuan Jones. Both are splitting time with the first team with Works getting the nod in the team drills and Jones in the two minute drills. The OU coaches have wanted Works to work more on his north-south running rather than going for the big play, and he did well today pounding away in short-yardage team drills. Another player who is impressive in the short-yardage situation is Donta Hickson. OU running back Coach Cale Gundy says Hickson is the best of the OU RB's at keeping his balance. Hickson has a knack for running into the pile and spinning off the pile to get extra yardage. True freshmen running back Tashard Choice may have had the best run of the OU RB's on Sunday when he ran over middle linebacker Clint Ingram in the Oklahoma drill. Bob Stoops was asked after practice what he thought about the running back battle, to which he replied, "I don't think running backs are going to be a problem this year." Enough said.
Same song, same verse here for the OU receivers as the usual suspects continue to impress. Mark Clayton had another great day, as did Will Peoples, Brandon Jones and Travis Wilson. Clayton caught a quick screen pass from White over the middle, split the safeties and would've scored, while Wilson burned OU's safeties deep and also caught a great 9-yard curl pass from Thompson that was thrown behind him in traffic. It appears that Mark Clayton and Will Peoples have emerged as the starting wideouts, but when OU goes to a three receiver set Brandon Jones will come in for the tight end and line out wide with Clayton moving inside to the slot. JeJuan Rankins and Travis Wilson also rotated in with the first team at times on Sunday.
It appears the battle for this spot is heating up between Lance Donley and Bubba Moses. Both split time getting reps on the first team, with Moses getting the nod with the first unit during the two minute drill. Junior college tight end Willie Roberts continues to be the wild card of the group, but his status is unknown even though he appears to be getting more and more looks with each practice.
Davin Joseph and Jammal Brown stood out the most for the o-line during the Oklahoma drill. Joseph was rarely defeated and dominant at times, while Brown was burned by Jonathan Jackson, but redeemed himself on the next play when he pancaked freshmen defensive tackle Steven Coleman. The only question with OU's OL right now is who will back up starters Vince Carter, Kelvin Chaisson, Vince Carter, Brown and Joseph. OU experimented with Brett Rayl at guard today and Akim Millington at tackle. OU's second team line consisted of Millington and Chris Messner at the tackles, Chris Bush at center along with walk-on John Flynn and Rayl at the guards.
Once again Tommie Harris went through the entire practice and we didn't see any signs of him being injured. Harris wasn't outstanding in the Oklahoma drill, because he relies more on quickness than power, but played better in the inside and team drills. One player who may be making a move, or at least is getting a shot to show his stuff on the first unit is Lynn McGruder. McGruder lined up alongside Harris most of the day on the first team. Dusty Dvoracek and Kory Klein also took reps with the first team unit. Defensive ends Larry Birdine, Dan Cody and Jonathan Jackson were all outstanding in the Oklahoma drill. Birdine beat Chaisson twice while Cody used his power and Jackson his speed. One freshmen who looked great today is defensive end John Williams. Williams has good size, strength, a great first step and a tremendous motor. Calvin Thibodeaux is still running as one of the two second team defensive ends along with Birdine, but watch out of Williams.
Senior linebacker Pasha Jackson had his best workout so far this summer and was the star of the OU LB corp in the Oklahoma drill. "Yeah...I had a good day. You don't win them all the time, but today I had a good day." OU LB Coach Brent Venables is also starting to take notice. "Pasha is gong to be a better football player this year because he's a year older. Even though he's played at a great juco program, there's still a development stage. He is a very physical football player. People will see that this year." Jackson, Lance Mitchell and Teddy Lehman were backed up by Clint Ingram, Gayron Allen and Russell Dennison today.
Antonio Perkins was nicked up on Saturday and missed today's practice. Filling in for him on the starting defense alongside Derrick Strait was Mark Bradley. Eric Bassey and Darien Williams also got some reps with the first team at corner in Perkins absence. Speaking of Bassey, he had the hit of the day for the defensive backs in the Oklahoma drill when he blew up walk-on receiver David Robinson. OU's secondary continues to be set with Brandon Everage and Donte Nicholson at safety along with Perkins and Strait at the corners. When OU goes to their two linebacker set, Pasha Jackson goes out and is replaced by Brodney Pool at the Roy Williams spot. The second team safeties are still Michael Thompson and Matt McCoy. Jason Carter and Tony Cade also got some work with the second team at safety. Brandon Shelby is the dime back, and he is backed up by Carter.
Sunday was good day for the punters, but a great day for freshmen Cody Freeby. Freeby was consistent for most of the day and even boomed a 65-yarder with a 4.0 hangtime. Blake Ferguson also had a good day, but Freeby's best appeared to beat Ferguson's best. OU also worked on kick-offs and sophomore Trey DiCarlo was impressive. DiCarlo seems to have added more leg strength and was pretty consistent kicking the ball into or near the end zone today with good hang time. "I don't care who does the kicking as long as they kick longer and deeper in the end zone than last year," said Stoops. "DiCarlo looks bigger and stronger, and I think he's got a stronger leg now."
OU will return to the practice fields Monday morning for their first full day of two-a-days beginning at 7:45 a.m.
8/10 Practice Report: Sooners bring out the pads
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