The Oklahoma football team returned to the practice field for their second fall workout on an overcast afternoon in helmets, jerseys and shorts Tuesday in Norman.
And once again, Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops remarked that the Sooners' knowledge of the system coming into the fall workouts will only help their preparation.
"It was a great practice," said Stoops. "I'm just real impressed with how intelligent this team is and how far along they are. They're retaining everything.
"We ran 48 plays of team (drills) today and they didn't miss a beat. That's just so important to our football team — when you can run your offense and you don't have to stop, you don't have to teach, you don't have to break down the play an take five minutes."
Below is a position-by-position look at the highlights from Tuesday's practice.
Jason White went through Monday's workout without wearing a knee on either knee for the first time in several years, but that changed today as he had both braces back on.
Paul Thompson had looked great today as he got to showcase more of his skills both running and passing. Thompson seems to be a better player when the threat of the run is present in the offense.
Thompson and White took most of the reps, which left few opportunities for Rhett Bomar and Tommy Grady to shine. Grady, however, did throw a great deep post route to Travis Wilson.
Day two of the Adrian Peterson watch was a rather uneventful one. Peterson took reps behind KeJuan Jones, Tashard Choice and Donta Hickson, but saw limited action. However, he made his presence known when he got a chance breaking what would've been a big run on a draw play.
Tashard Choice did pull a hamstring midway through practice, which did pave the way for more reps for Peterson and D.J. Wolfe late in the workout. Redshirt freshman Jacob Gutierrez also drew some praise today when he made a nice catch on a wheel route.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The Sooner wide receivers struggled to catch the ball in the one-on-one drills against the Sooner defensive backs, but caught everything in sight once the team drills began.
One player who is looking better than ever thus far is Travis Wilson. Wilson managed to drop some weight and maintain his speed and strength over the summer, and it's paying off so far.
"I hope so, I caught about 1000 balls a day this summer," said Wilson, who stayed late to catch extra passes from the OU QBs after the summer 7-on-7 drills. "I didn't feel that I lost any speed when I was heavier, I just didn't feel real good. Coach Schmidt came up with a plan to reduce my weight so I would feel better about myself. I ran a lot and yet, I'm stronger despite the fact I've lost weight, and I'm much more quicker. I believe that I'm just a little better athlete."
Mark Clayton had another great practice catching balls over the middle and making Sooner defenders miss. Wilson made several great catches, including the deep post from Grady. Brandon Jones and Will Peoples also looked good catching the ball over the middle on crossing routes.
Clayton, Jones and JeJuan Rankins are still running with the first team and are followed by Wilson, Peoples and Mark Bradley, which is quite a group for OU's defensive backs to cover day in and day out.
"I think they're the best wide receivers in the country," said Jowahn Poteat. "If I can cover them, I can cover anybody. They work so hard it forces me to work so hard. You never get a play off because they're trying to score and embarrass you on every play. And our QBs are good, so if you make one mistake you're toast."
James Moses is still the first team tight end. Joe John Finley and Willie Roberts shared reps with the second and third teams.
The first team is set and looking very solid. Vince Carter continues to be the only question mark on the first team because of his knee problems, but he went through every drill once again on Tuesday.
Chris Chester, Chris Bush, John Flynn, Akim Millington and Chris Messner primarily worked with the second team. Cameron Schacht and J.D. Quinn worked as the guards on the third team.
Lynn McGruder is finally in a starting role at defensive tackle alongside Dusty Dvoracek and drew praise today several times from Jackie Shipp. 'That's the way you do it,' said Shipp on several occasions.
Remi Ayodele is the Sooners' third tackle right now, and he is clearly putting in the extra effort to make sure it stays that way as he stayed after practice to get some extra work with Shipp.
The battle for the fourth spot in Shipp's rotation will come down to Steven Coleman, Carl Pendleton and Lawrence Dampeer. Dampeer is still trying to get back into playing shape, which leaves the battle right now to Pendleton and Coleman.
Pendleton has been very impressive since the spring game and still is a factor despite being the smallest of the tackles. If Pendleton ever gets up to around the 300 pound mark, he could be OU's next great tackle.
Zach Latimer continued to show that his instincts are what best suits him for the middle linebacker spot as he hung back and picked off Jason White over the middle on one play. Clint Ingram also had a nice sack on a blitz.
One of the most important positions to resolve this spring is at cornerback, where the Sooners are looking to find a replacement for Derrick Strait.
But while all the attention is on who will replace Strait, Stoops is quick to remind everyone to not forget about Antonio Perkins.
"I'm amazed that people just look at him as a punt returner and they don't talk about him being an elite corner," said Stoops. "He's played great for us over the last couple of years and he has to been one of the elite corners in the country. We certainly think he is."
"I think we're going to be really good there," Stoops said when asked about the other cornerback position. "We've got several good players on the other side. I was really impressed with how Darrien Williams played today. Eric Bassey had another good practice, and Jowahn Poteat had another good practice. Poteat has really improved as a football player.
"Then we've got the two new guys - Marcus Walker and Chijioke. They're beginning to pick it up. They played better today than they played yesterday just because they're beginning to feel a little more comfortable. We have a real good mix going right now."
Poteat, who was the backup to Perkins last season, is excited about his move to the short-side corner spot.
"It was the greatest feeling in the world," said Poteat on when he was told he was being moved to the other corner spot to get a chance to win the job. "But it will be better if I win the job. It did show that I'm coming along as a player, that I'm playing better and that I'm improved as a player."
So why has it taken three years for Poteat to finally make a run at a starting spot?
"It's just matter of confidence. I guess it's also a sense of urgency because I haven't been playing, and I want to play. You can either keep screwing around and not play, or you can pick it up and become a better player. I'm trying to become a better player.
"I finally realized that I can run with some of these guys. You see all these guys with blazing speed. I used to try and do other things to keep up with them, but when in reality I just need to turn and run. I'm a little more instinctive now so I can break a little earlier. But I've realized I have enough athletic ability that I can play. Sometimes it's just a matter of confidence."
One of Poteat's competitors for the corner spot opposite Perkins is Eric Bassey. Bassey isn't the most skilled corner, but he more than makes up for it with his work ethic and athletic ability. Bassey showed just that today when he was beaten on a wheel route by KeJuan Jones, but he quickly recovered, closed on the ball, jumped and made the interception while managing to get one foot down as he fell to the sidelines.
Another player in contention for the the other corner job is juco transfer Chijioke Onyenegecha. Onyenegecha had his best practice as a Sooner today jumping into more drills drills and competing the hardest he has since arriving in Norman.
Brodney Pool and Jason Carter are running with the first group of safeties, but that hasn't stopped Tony Cade and Brett Bowers from getting as many reps as possible, even when they're not on the field. When Cade and Bowers weren't in the drill, they would stand 20-25 yard behind the defense and move with the play as if they were in the game.
We got a chance to take our first look at the Sooners' punters and kickers, and each group was impressive.
Trey DiCarlo didn't miss from while we were watching, and neither did true freshman Garret Hartley. Blake Ferguson was his usual consistent self punting the football. As for Cody Freeby, the redshirt freshman always booms several during each practice but has struggled in the past with miss hits that go 20 yards. But so far this season, Freeby still seems to boom the ball a good 40 yards, even on his worst punts.
Darrien Williams, Brodney Pool, Tony Cade, Rufus Alexander, Zach Latimer, Clint Ingram, James Moses, Russell Dennison and J.D. Runnels worked on the front line of the punt team with Mark Bradley, Chijioke, Travis Wilson, Jowahn Poteat and Marcus Walker working as the gunners.
Brandon Shelby, Demarrio Pleasant, Donte Nicholson, Tony Cade and Darrien Williams worked on the front line of the punt block team. Travis Wilson, Jowahn Poteat and Marcus Walker worked on the outside.
The Sooners will return to the practice field again tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. OU's first full pad workout has been set for Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m.
Tuesday's 8/10 Practice Report
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