Stoops has no complaints after first scrimmage

Bob Stoops, Kevin Wilson, Chuck Long, Brandon Jones, JeJuan Rankins, Paul Thompson, Brent Venables and Chijioke Onyenegecha talk about Saturday's scrimmage. Thompson (pictured left) completed 17-of-23 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown against the first team defense, while Shelby returned an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

NORMAN, Okla. — The Oklahoma Football team capped the second weekend of spring practice with a one hour and 30 minute, 95-play scrimmage Saturday in Norman.

And for the first time in a while, the Sooners first team offense, led by Paul Thompson, was able to move the ball on the first team defense for two long scoring drives.

"I was pleased with the progress," said offensive coordinator Chuck Long. "We were bale to sustain some long drives. That's not always an easy thing to do around here."

One of the Sooners' major goals on offense this spring was to find a tight end and running back. And Long had to be pleased with what he saw on Saturday, as KeJuan Jones ran well and two OU's tight ends were two of the top four leading receivers.

"Those are the two spots on our offense we can't give you a depth chart, even though it looks like we have guys emerging. I can say, as a whole, that both of those positions are upgraded from a year ago."

Overall, OU Head Coach Bob Stoops was pleased with what he saw on Saturday.

"Great scrimmage," said Stoops. "I'm really pleased with how hard we competed. I'm most pleased we had no injuries.

"On offense, I think our quarterbacks are having a great spring. They had a great scrimmage. Our receivers are catching the ball and the running backs are running hard.

"On defense, our front line is playing well and our secondary is making plays. I have no complaints."

Also of note, several starters were held out of the scrimmage, including Jason White, Mark Clayton, Dan Cody, Lance Mitchell, Jonathan Jackson and Antonio Perkins.

"We held out some guys who have started for two or three years here," said Stoops. "We know what they can do and it gives the younger guys an opportunity to show what they can do."

Below is a position-by-position look at the highlights from Saturday's scrimmage.

QUARTERBACK
Jason White did not take part in the the scrimmage portion of practice, which once again opened the door for Paul Thompson and Tommy Grady to show their stuff.

Thompson took every snap with the first team offense against the first team defense, while Grady took all the snaps with the second team offense against the second team defense.

Thompson, who led the first team offense to two sustained scoring drives against the first team defense, wasn't flawless, but he was close. Thompson completed 17-of-23 passes for 155 yards, including one 2-yard touchdown pass to J.D. Runnels.

"I thought our quarterbacks threw it well and made good decisions," Long said. "I think both Paul and Tommy played pretty well. However, Paul made a lot better decisions today than Tommy did. I don't think Paul put us in a bad play, and Tommy threw into coverage too much. However, when Tommy found a target he really threw the ball well."

"I think things went pretty well for us," said Thompson. "We were able to sustain some things. I think I'm playing OK trying to keep us out of trouble. I'm trying everything I can to win the No. 1 job. I'm getting an opportunity because I'm getting most of the reps. I'm just trying to put my best foot forward, and I like how things are going so far."

Grady threw three interceptions, but still managed to complete 12-of-19 passes for 115 yards.

RUNNING BACKS
KeJuan Jones got a majority of the reps with the first team along with Donta Hickson. Redshirt freshman Tashard Choice got one series with the first team near the end of the scrimmage and had carries of 9 abd 3 yards.

Jones led the backs with 50 yards on 19 carries. Hickson carried the ball seven times for 39 yards, but his fumble resulted in a recovery for a touchdown by Brandon Shelby.

Both touchdowns today scored by the first team offense were scored by running running backs. Jones carried one of the touchdowns on a short run and fullback J.D. Runnels caught a 2-yard pass out of the backfield from Thompson for the other score.

"Our running backs are running hard, especially Kejuan Jones," Stoops commented after practice. "I think all of you are impressed with all of our guys, including our freshman D.J. Wolfe. D.J. is really running hard trying to make up ground in a hurry. He's doing a good job trying to move the pile, but he can't run over them like he did in high school."

Wolfe, who didn't get any carries in the Sooners mini-scrimmage last Saturday, got several today and made a good impression by picking up one first down with a run on 3rd and eight. Wolfe finished with 26 yards on 11 carries.

Donta Hickson was a key cog in the Sooners' first scoring drive with 24 rushing yards, including runs of 12 and 9 yards to get OU to the three-yard line, where Thompson then found Runnels for a TD pass on the next play.

On OU's second scoring drive, it was the running of KeJuan Jones and the sharp passing of Thompson. Thompson hit Willie Roberts for 9 yards, Brandon Jones for 14 yards, KeJuan Jones for 10, Willie Roberts for 8 and JeJuan Rankins for 19-yard play that set up a KeJuan Jones TD run two plays later.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
OU's deepest position played well again today, with Brandon Jones, JeJuan Rankins standing finishing as the Sooners' top two receivers on Saturday.

"My receivers really played well," said receiver coach Darrell Wyatt. "They caught the ball, ran the routes and competed hard. Brandon Jones is having a great spring. I've always thought he was OK in the spring, but he's really having an exceptional spring this year. And I think that's due to the fact we get him full-time."

"It was real," said Jones, who caught four passes for 36 yards. "Man, I'm just trying to show everybody I'm a playmaker. I'm having a good time competing against our secondary, and they still can't hold me."

"I think JeJuan Rankins is having a good spring, and I really wish we had Mark Bradley out here," said Wyatt. "I think he would've really jumped in his talent if we could've gotten him out there this spring."

As for Rankins, the junior from North Carolina is on a mission this spring after not getting to play in last year's Sugar Bowl.

"I was disappointed in that," said Rankins on not getting to play against LSU. "What I want to do is get to the point that I'm so good that they can never take me off the field. It's up to me to get it going and prove I should never be taken out."

"I had a pretty good scrimmage today," Rankins, who caught four balls for 37 yards. "I'm just trying to do my thing, trying to make some things happen. That's not always easy, but I'm trying to do that."

As for OU's tight ends, James Moses stood out again at tight end with a big day, including one 30-yard catch. Joe John Finley and Willie Roberts also saw some time with the first team and looked good.

Moses led all of OU's receivers with six catches for 71 yards, and Roberts was the Sooners' fourth-best pass catcher on Saturday with four catches for 31 yards. Finley recorded one catch for 10 yards.

"I'm really pleased with the play of our tight ends," said Chuck Long. "I think that was one of our biggest developments today. We had great play out of the tight end position."

Receiver Travis Wilson was held out of the scrimmage with a broken pinky finger.

Moses' 30-yard catch and run from Thompson was a big play in first team offenses' scoring drive. Moses and Roberts each also had key catches on the Sooners' second scoring drive.

Redshirt freshman Tristen Ross was impressive again with three catches for 37 yards.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Offensive line coach and running game coordinator Kevin Wilson had to be pleased with his offensive line's performance today, but he's never going to fully admit it.

"It's good," said Wilson on the line's performance. "We're still not great, but we're good. We're competing better. We've been able to bust more run plays this year against our defense."

You know you have it pretty good when your fourth-team center, who was just moved to the position this spring, is the only complaint after a major scrimmage. Chris Chester took most of the snaps today at center with Vince Carter, Chris Bush and Antonn Reid out.

"We're still struggling at center. Even when the snaps are good, sometimes they're not good," said Wilson. "For the most part, Jammal (Brown) and Wes (Sims) are having great springs. We're breaking a lot of runs over the left side, which means Kelvin (Chaisson) and Wes are doing well. I'm pretty satisfied with how things went."

"I think we are running it better," said Bob Stoops. "I think our offensive line is better, and I think we're developing some better offensive linemen. I know Kevin is trying to do that."

Oklahoma's second team offensive line today consisted of Chris Messner and Akim Millington at the tackles, Chester and John Flynn rotating at center, and David Walker and Brett Rayl at guard.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Dan Cody was held out of today's scrimmage and he was replaced by Calvin Thibodeaux on the first unit, who got one sack.

Dusty Dvoracek started alongside Lynn McGruder at tackle, but redshirt freshmen Lawrence Dampeer and Steven Coleman continued to look strong working their way into Jack Shipp's four-man rotation. Dampeer continued to get a solid push up the middle, one time forcing Tommy Grady out of the pocket. Both Dampeer and Coleman finished with one sack and three tackles.

Redshirt freshman Carl Pendleton did not attend today's practice, instead choosing to go to a national cheerleader completion with the Sooner cheer squad.

The Sooners' redshirt freshman pair of defensive tackles — John Williams and Alonzo Dotson — also looked good with six tackles each.

LINEBACKERS
Middle linebacker Lance Mitchell was held out of today's scrimmage, which opened the door for OU's young guns to get more reps in their battle for playing time.

Gayron Allen took Mitchell's spot at middle linebacker and Clint Ingram started at strongside with Rufus Alexander at the weakside spot. Alexander led all tackles with 11, while Allen added seven and backup strongside linebacker Russell Dennison pitched in six.

But one of the standouts for the Sooners at linebacker was Zach Latimer. Latimer had a great practice on Friday, and followed it up again today with an interception of Tommy Grady, four tackles and one forced fumble.

"I think I've found a position for Zach," said Linebacker Coach and Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables. "He seems to have settled in at the middle linebacker spot. I think he and Clint both have found a position."

Demarrio Pleasant also had a great play stopping D.J. Wolfe for a short game after catching a screen pass.

SECONDARY
Brandon Shelby is one of those players you tend to forgot about, until he makes a big play in a big game. Shelby is only a reserve, but he always seems to find a way to make something happen when he gets on the field.

Today was no different as he picked off two passes, including an out route from Tommy Grady and returned it for a 58-yard touchdown. Shelby also picked up a Donta Hickson fumble and returned it 28-yards for a touchdown.

"Brandon Shelby is having a great spring," said Bob Stoops. "He's always been a great player for us. Sometimes people don't recognize it because of the role he plays. All guys have a role, and his is in the dime and nobody in the country plays it better than Brandon Shelby. And what we're finding is when we line him up at safety, he's pretty good there too."

Senior cornerback Antonio Perkins was another defensive standout held out of the scrimmage. Perkins was replaced by Jowahn Poteat on the first team defense starting alongside Eric Bassey at corner. Darien Williams and Chijioke Onyenegecha got reps with the second team at corner.

Onyenegecha, who is still not 100 percent, still managed to have had a pretty good day knocking away one pass, making four tackles and not giving up a big play.

"I'm just trying to do what I can," said Onyenegecha. "They're throwing a lot of stuff at me. I thought our defenses (SFCC and OU) were similar, but they're really not. It doesn't mean it's hard, it's just tough for me to learn. I'm trying to play through my injury and just compete."

Safety Brodney Pool led the secondary with seven tackles. Jason Carter, who continues to start at safety in OU's nickel package, was right behind Pool with five tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Trey DiCarlo looked fabulous kicking field goals connecting on kicks from 27, 32, 37, 42, 47, 52 and 57 yards out, and only missing once from 42 and twice from 62 yards.

Today's kick-off team consisted of: Jonathan Jackson, Russell Dennison, Clint Ingram, Lewis Baker and James Moses on the front line. Gayron Allen, J.D. Runnels and Joe John Finley on the second line. Tristen Ross and Tashard Choice as the upbacks and Antonio Perkins in the middle as the returner. JeJuan Rankins and Mark Clayton also returned kicks.

Scrimmage Stats
Rushing

K. Jones 14-50
Hickson 7-39
Wolfe 11-26
Tennial 4-20
Choice 5-12
Gutierrez 5-11
Rankins 1-3
Thompson 1-3
Grady 5- (-8 )
Passing
Thompson 17-23, 155 yards, 1 TD
Grady 12-19-2, 115 yards

Receiving
Moses 6-71
Rankins 4-37
B. Jones 4-36
Roberts 4-31
Ross 3-37
Robinson 3-34
Finley 1-10
Greene 1-7
Tennial 1-5
Runnels 1-2
Peoples 1-0

Tackles
Alexander 10
Allen 7
Pool 7
Baker 6
Dennison 6
Dotson 6
J. Williams 6
Carter 5
Pleasant 5
Thibodeaux 5
D. Williams 5
Ingram 4
Latimer 4
Onyenegecha 4
Bassey 3
Coleman 3
Dampeer 3
Dvoracek 2
Nicholson 2
Cade 2
Nixon 2
Shelby 1

Sacks
Coleman 1
Dampeer 1
Thibodeaux 1

Pass Breakups
D. Williams 1
Ingram 1

Fumble Recoveries
Dotson 1
Shelby 1

Fumble Forced
Latimer 1

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