Practice Report: Stoops says Sooners on schedule

News, notes and quotes from the Sooners practice Monday at the Superdome in New Orleans. Pictured Left: Jason White hands the ball off to Donta Hickson during Monday's workout.

NEW ORLEANS, La. — The Oklahoma football team worked out for well over two hours inside the Superdome on Monday in their third workout since arriving in New Orleans on Saturday.

It's a good thing the Sooners will work indoors for the remainder of their practices leading up to Sunday's game, because it has done nothing but rain in the Crescent City since the Sooners arrived.

The Sooners scrimmaged for a good part of Monday's workout, and Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops was pleased his teams' performance.

"I couldn't be more happy," said Stoops. "Everything is going according to plan. We're right on schedule."

"It was a great practice today," Stoops continued. "We were very physical, but that's always our standard when we come to bowl game. When you give the players time off you've got to come back and work hard."

Stoops, who has taken over for brother Mike as the secondary coach, had more of an interest in the battle between OU's receivers and the secondary during today's scrimmage.

"I'm kinda pulling for the secondary," chuckled Stoops. "I give them the edge. Don't tell Coach (Chuck) Long that."

Heisman Hangover?
Heisman Trophy Winner Jason White showed no signs of a 'Heisman Hangover' in his third day back on the practice field since his whirlwind tour around New York City ended last week.

"I think we look great, but we have more to learn and more to work on," said White, who seemed to be having more fun on the practice field then ever before. "The gameplan is in, we just need to refine it."

After practice, White was asked by a member of the media if he would trade his Heisman Trophy for a national title. His answer was obvious, and what many of us have come to expect from White.

"Wining the national championship is more important," said White. "I'd trade the Heisman Trophy if you guaranteed me we could win the title.

"I am a team guy, so it's more important that we come out and win the game. We are playing a great football team in LSU. It's going to be hard to win the game. We'll need one of our best efforts."

White was also asked how his life has changed since winning the trophy now that he's back with the team.

"It's harder to go the mall now," White joked. "But here (at practice), this isn't any different. I'm hanging out with my teammates. I'm just another guy on this team."

From talking to Oklahoma's coaches and insiders there is no question that the Sooners respect LSU possibly moreso than any team they've faced over the last few years.

One of the major factors that OU coaches point out is LSU's team speed. LSU Head Coach Nick Saban has stated that he feels his Tigers have just as much team speed as the Sooners, and after watching film the Sooners are beginning to think that just might be true.

The media in Louisiana is trying to pit the Sugar Bowl matchup as a 'Stoops vs. Saban' battle, but Stoops wants no part of it. Stoops and Saban go back to the days when their passes crossed in Youngstown, Ohio. But Stoops has given nothing but respect to his counterpart this week in New Orleans.

"They're a well-coached, fundamentally sound football team," said Stoops. "They're as good as you'd expect a team to be with 12 wins."

"Defensively, it's a very sound, fundamental defense. They have a lot of strength. They come after you and are very aggressive. They're big and strong up front. The big key offensively is that we have to really block them on Sunday."

Hold that line
Speaking of blocking and the running game ... one of the more noticeable points of emphasis on the offensive side of the ball in OU's practices the last three days has been on the running game.

Oklahoma's running game fell below par toward the end of the season and OU line coach Kevin Wilson was trying to pump up the offensive line and urge them to be more physical during Monday's practice. Wilson points out Kelvin Chaisson and Jammal Brown as two players who need to step up their performance and more physical run blockers.

Wilson is also hoping for a bigger game out of guard Davin Joseph. The OU coaches were expecting a big year from Joseph, but minor injuries have slowed Joseph from being the dominating run blocking force they thought he could be before the season started. But with the month off, Joseph is now healthy and could be a key component to OU's offensive rushing attack against a stingy LSU defensive line.

Also, don't count out the fact that junior defensive tackle Tommie Harris could be used at the tight end spot in short-yardage situations. Sources tell us that Harris at tight end could be back in the gameplan.

Return of Renaldo
Senior running back Renaldo Works is back and 100 percent healthy, and you can expect to see him integrated back into the running game more along with Kejuan Jones.

Works was clearly OU's best running back in the coaches' eyes before midseason injuries slowed him down, and rumor has it the OU coaches would like to see Works 'go out with a bang'. So, expect to see more of him in the lineup on Sunday.

Defensive Notes
Oklahoma has a lot of respect for LSU's defense, but the Tigers' offense may provide more of a different test than the Sooners have faced this season.

OU coaches say that the play of safety Donte Nicholson could be the key in stopping LSU's balanced attack. Also, expect to see the Sooners play more in their base 4-3 defense, which would mean more playing time for Pasha Jackson at strongside linebacker. This also puts more pressure on OU's corners, who would see a lot more man coverage than they are used to playing.

Of the true freshmen in bowl practices, none have looked better than the Sooners' defensive end combo of John Williams and Alonzo Dotson. OU defensive end coach Bobby Jack Wright talked about his young players after practice.

"We thought they were going to be good, and they are," said Wright. "We don't have a bad player among our freshmen class. Their future is bright."

Juicy Tidbits
The speculation among many of the insiders traveling with the Oklahoma camp is that Tommie Harris will go pro. The Sooner coaches have learned that Harris will definitely be a first round draft choice, but that he may not go as high as is being reported by the draft experts in the media. They also feel that another year in Norman working on his game could boost him into a definite top five pick. Harris says he's still 50-50 on his decision ... While we're on the topic of players leaving early, the same sources who are speculating that Harris will go pro think that junior defensive end Dan Cody will return for his senior season ... Monday night will be the last night that the Sooners can roam Bourbon Street together or with their families. OU's curfew has been set for midnight each of the last two nights, and the team is expected to be doing more team functions in the evening leading up to the game ... While the OU players will be roaming the town Monday night, the Sooner coaches and other staff members will get a night out on the town Monday night on Athletic Director Joe Castiglione ... The Sooners will return to the practice field on Tuesday morning at the Superdome at 11 a.m. OU is scheduled to practice until 1 p.m. Tuesday's workout is closed to the public, but will be there to provide complete coverage of Tuesday's practice with quotes from OU players and coaches late Tuesday afternoon. Stay tuned...

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