Thompson, Rankins impress in spring game

Oklahoma quarterback Paul Thompson throws the ball during the annual Red and White intrasquad game Saturday in Norman. Thompson threw two touchdown passes and completed 20-of-31 passes for 311 yard in leading the Red to a 24-3 win over the White. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

NORMAN, Okla. — No Jason White? No problem.

Oklahoma's Heisman Trophy winning quarterback watched the spring game from the sidelines, but Sooners first team offense didn't miss a beat with junior Paul Thompson filling in.

In all, Thompson threw for 311 yards and two touchdown passes to lead the Red (first team offense/second team defense) to a 24-3 win over the White (first team defense/second team offense) in front of 31,000 fans at Owen Field Saturday in Norman.

Thompson, who completed 21 of his 30 pass attempts, also quarterbacked OU's first team offense to two scoring drives against the first team defense and one against a mixture of first and second team players.

Both of Thompson's scoring drives against the first team defense ended in TD passes to JeJuan Rankins.

"Paul had a really good day," said Rankins, who led OU's receivers with five catches for 88 yards. "He is hitting a lot more of his throws and hitting ones that he usually misses. As he is getting older, you know being behind Jason and learning he is learning to make reads faster and he is getting us the ball faster, which gives us the opportunity to make plays."

"I was a little bit rusty after the first two or three drives, but then I felt comfortable," said Thompson. "I am real relaxed in the huddles and it squeezes off to the OL. "The receivers did a good job even when the passes weren't on the money."

As for Rankins, his hard work this offseason has paid off after entering the spring with extra motivation after the coaches elected not to play him against LSU in the Sugar Bowl.

"Rankins has had a great spring," said run game coordinator Kevin Wilson. "He came back off that bowl game and could have been sour grapes, but he worked hard in the weight room and wanted to get back out on the field and have the coaches talk about him."

"I'm going to show up, any time the ball is in the air I'm going to show up," said Rankins on his big day. "Any time I can come out and play I'm looking to have a big day. Any time anybody in our receiving group can come out and have a big day it opens it up for a lot of other guys. Just going out there at our hardest and seeing what we can do."

Trey DiCarlo gave the White team (led by redshirt freshman QB Tommy Grady) a 3-0 lead in the second quarter with a 31-yard field goal.

But Red team quickly responded with a five-play, 70 yard drive that ended when Thompson found Rankins over the middle, and the junior did the rest juking his way into the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown to put the Red up 7-3 with 6:07 left to go in the half.

Thompson then led the Sooners right back down the field on the Red's next series and threw a beautiful fade pass (after bobbling the snap from the shotgun) to a diving Rankins in the corner of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown with 31 seconds to go in the first half.

But it didn't end there for Thompson, who came back in the second half to lead the Red team to two more scoring drives. A 65-yard bomb from Thompson to Brandon Jones (largest play of the scrimmage) set up the Red's first score of the third quarter, which resulted in a 25-yard field goal by Trey DiCarlo.

Redshirt freshman Tashard Choice later capped the last scoring drive of the game with a 1-yard touchdown run to complete a 14-play, 88-yard drive that put the Red up 24-3.

"I like the poise of our qb's today and I like the way we moved the ball," said Kevin Wilson. "I don't know how significant the spring game is, because last year and the year before we didn't score much and we had a pretty good offense. It gives you a lot of confidence."

Back to Thompson, what's even more impressive about the junior from Leander, Texas was that he was considered to be more dangerous with his feet than his arm prior to this spring. That's obviously now not the case after today.

"That is just from watching film and going through my notes. All that just comes together," said Thompson on his Jason White-esque day throwing the football. "I have been forcing myself to staying the pocket and go through my reads."

"Paul's done a great job," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops. "He's improved steadily over the course of the spring and continued to mature into a fine player. He was very accurate today and looked confident. We're really happy with him."

As for his status next season when White returns to take over the offense, Thompson says he still wants to play.

"I am just playing for next year," Thompson said. "The redshirt is not what I am worrying about right now."

Overall, Stoops was pleased with the scrimmage and the fact that several younger players got extra work with some of the starters either being held out or getting limited snaps.

"For the most part, this is for the guys who haven't played a lot," Stoops said. "Jason tried to talk us into letting him play a couple weeks ago. His toe is healed, but knowing him, he would have tried to go all out. There is no need in that. We got some of the younger guys a good amount of reps in a game situation and that's what we needed to do."

"I was real pleased with the way things went. Nobody got hurt and I liked what I saw on both sides of the ball. I think it was pretty obvious to everyone that we kept things fairly simple, not wanting to show too much, but I'm real happy with the way it turned out."

SCORING
First quarter

No scoring

Second quarter
7:48 0-3 White--DiCarlo 31-yard field goal (11 plays, 66 yards)
6:07 7-3 Red -- Rankins 27-yard pass from Thompson (DiCarlo kick) (5 plays, 70 yards)
:31 14-3 Red -- Rankins 12-yard pass from Thompson (DiCarlo kick) (9 plays, 54 yards)

Third quarter
4:30 17-3 Red--DiCarlo 25-yard field goal (5 plays, 80 yards)

Fouth quarter
4:25 24-3 Red--Choice 1-yard run (DiCarlo kick) (14 plays, 88 yards)

Statistics
Team Red White
First downs 12 8
Rushing 25-75 23-12
Passing 21-30-0 18-27-0
Passing Yards 311 180
Penalties 2-20 1-5
Fumbles lost 0 0

Rushing
Red: Hickson 13-57, Choice 6-17, K. Jones 4-(-3), Thompson 2-4. White: Tennial 8-13, Gutierrez 7-4, Wolfe 3-7, Grady 4-(-7), team 1-(-5).

Passing
Red: Thompson 21-30-0, 311 yards, 2 TD. White: Grady 18-27-0, 180 yards.

Receiving
Red: Rankins 5-88, B. Jones 2-82, Moses 3-45, Clayton 4-31, Peoples 2-27, K. Jones 1-25, Finley 1-5, Roberts 1-3, ford 1-3, Townsend 1-2. White: Ross 5-69, Robinson 3-43, Finley 1-14, Ford 1-13, Greene 1-11, Wolfe 2-8, Gutierrez 2-7, Tennial 1-3.

Tackles
Red: D. Williams 7, Pleasant 6, Chambers 5, Dennison 4, Dampeer 4, Pendleton 3, Baker 3, Onyenegecha 2, Coleman 2, Shelby 1, Poteat 1, Stephens 1, Cade 1, Thibodeaux 1, Helvey 1, Nixon 1, Birdine 1, J. Williams 1. White: Mitchell 7, Ingram 7, Carter 6, Latimer 4, Allen 4, Bassey 3, Dvoracek 3, Poteat 3, Jackson 2, Pendleton 2, Coleman 2, Shelby 1, Cade 1, Birdine 1, McGruder 1.

Tackles for Loss
Red: Chambers 1-1, Baker 1-2, Dennison 1-5, D. Williams 1-5, Pendleton 1-1, J. Williams 1-1.

Sacks
Red: Pendleton 1-7, Pleasant 1-6, Dampeer 1-9. White: Ingram 1-2.

Passes Broken Up
Red: D. Williams 1, Nixon 1. White: Carter 1, Bassey 1, Allen 1.

Punting
Red: Ferguson 2-38.0. White: Freeby: 3-55.3.

Field Goals
DiCarlo 22 (missed), 31 (good), 25 (good) .

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