8/20 Morning Practice Report

News and notes from Wednesday morning's practice with quotes from Bob Stoops and Bobby Jack Wright.

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops has a reputation for coaching one of the most prepared teams in the nation.

Stoops always pays attention to every little detail, and that continued today as the Sooners took the intramural practice fields wearing their ‘retro' white helmets and black shoes.

"We've got to have those guys start breaking that stuff in," said Stoops. "Every time you get new helmets and shoes you have to make sure everything fits."

As for the practice itself, the Sooners worked out in full pads against the scout team offense and defense for most of the morning.

Quarterback Jason White was held out of most of the drills and had a bag of ice wrapped around his knee at the beginning of practice.

Paul Thompson stepped in and took most of the reps with the first team offense and had a good day finding Mark Clayton and JeJuan Rankins over the middle during the team blitz drill. Thompson did make one mistake when Brodney Pool jumped on a swing pass to Renaldo Works and took it back for a touchdown.

We've raved out sophomore receiver JeJuan Rankins in our last two reports, and we're going to do it again. Rankins was the Sooners' best receiver again on Wednesday morning as he caught everything in sight.

Renaldo Works and Kejuan Jones continued to split time at running back. Jones and Donta Hickson also split time as the I-back in the Sooners' jumbo formation.

As for the defense, Tommie Harris continues his strong two-a-day showing and was almost unblockable. Harris is looking as quick and as fast as ever.

Harris and Dusty Dvoracek had a good day getting inside in the one-on-one drills against the offensive linemen. Wes Sims and Dan Cody had some classic battles that ended in a draw. Davin Joseph and Kory Klein also had a couple of pretty good battles. Larry Birdine showed his quickness on one play play when he beat Jammal Brown outside, but slipped and fell before getting to the quarterback. True freshmen John Williams was also impressive beating Akim Millington on a great move inside. Walk-on guard John Flynn did a pretty good job of blocking Lawrence Dampeer. Flynn has great technique and was constantly praised by the coaches this morning.

True freshmen defensive tackle Carl Pendleton returned to practice after getting banged up in Saturday's scrimmage. Brandon Everage and Wayne Chambers both suited up but didn't go through any of the contact drills. Rufus Alexander and Zach Latimer were also held out. Clint Ingram left practice early when he twisted the same knee that was previously hurt.

On offense, Courtney Tennial (shoulder), Ataleo Ford (shoulder) and Will Peoples were held out (knee). Center Vince Carter also seemed to be a little banged up and was walking gingerly.

As for the special teams, it appears that things are starting to take shape with the kickers. Blake Ferguson appears to have a solid lead on the punting job and Trey DiCarlo is going to kick-off along with kicking field goals.

DiCarlo credits OU's offseason weight training for his added leg strength.

"I think I am stronger," said DiCarlo. "I've finally gotten into a weight program. I never lifted weights before."

"Most kickers get their leg strength from running and playing soccer. There's technique to it that people don't understand. However, the strength program here can help you. There's no question Coach (Jerry) Schmidt will tailor things for the kickers. I think I'm going to have a good year, at least I'm certainly planning on it."

DiCarlo also plans to have a better year kicking field goals.

"To be honest, kickers have to be perfectionists," DiCarlo said. "I've missed a couple kicks so far. I just have to make sure that doesn't happen in a game. I missed six kicks last year and that's absolutely gross. That should never happen."

Antonio Perkins has returned to practice and is back returning punts. Perkins will also = return kick-offs along with JeJuan Rankins. Mark Clayton and Brandon Jones worked as the backup returners this morning. Mark Bradley, who was labeled as a starter at kick-returner coming out of the spring, also figures to be in the mix.

Bobby Jack Wright said he's pleased with the direction the special teams are headed.

"They're coming along great in my opinion," said Wright. "We're going to be great at covering and returning. We have great athletes. I think Trey (DiCarlo) is kicking the ball better than he ever has. And (Blake) Ferguson has improved."

Overall, Stoops was pleased with Wednesday morning's workout.

"It was a good practice," said Stoops. "I very rarely have been disappointed in the effort of our team while I've been here. Today, the guys gave great effort despite the fact I know they're tired. This has been a long grind. This is where you test your football team. You've got to bust their way through it."

The Sooners will practice again tonight at 6:45 p.m.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories