The Oklahoma football team put the shoulder pads on for the first time this fall and the intensity level of the workout went up a notch from the previous two days.
"You can tell there's a major difference when we put the pads on," said senior defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek. "It's just a lot more fun. It's a little bit frustrating that we can't go all out. We're at a big of a disadvantage. We can't go totally 100 percent because we can't tackle anybody. We can go 100 percent until we get there, and then we have to forget about it."
One of the first drills the Sooners worked on early in practice was the inside drill where the offensive line and running backs work against the defensive line, linebackers and safeties.
The Oklahoma defense has heard a lot about the talents of true freshman running back Adrian Peterson, and there was brief moment of excitement among them when the rookie took the huddle for his first carry against them in pads on Wednesday.
Peterson took the ball on his first carry and cut right, but Jonathan Jackson forced him back inside where he then lowered his shoulder and was stopped by senior linebacker Lance Mitchell.
"Hey big boy! Hey big boy!" said Mitchell to Peterson after the play as he tapped his helmet. "Not against us. Not against us."
"I'm really proud of how this football team competes," said Head Coach Bob Stoops. "This team really likes to play. That's why when you get the pads on them the intensity level picks up. I'm impressed with how our offensive and defensive lines are competing. We had good work today."
Below is a position-by-position look at who stood out during Wednesday's practice.
Wednesday was a so-so day for the quarterbacks because it seemed like the defense had the upper hand intercepting passes and batting down several others.
Jason White, for the most part was his usual self, finding Mark Clayton, while Paul Thompson was intercepted and had his first pass batted down.
All eyes continue to be on Adrian Peterson, but don't forget about D.J. Wolfe. Wolfe had another good practice today and is especially skilled at catching the ball out of the backfield.
In fact, one assistant coach was overheard telling a couple others at practice today that had they not recruited Peterson, Wolfe would be getting all the buzz this spring about being OU's next great back.
Tashard Choice missed practice today with a pulled hamstring, and that opened the door for Wolfe and Peterson to get more reps behind KeJuan Jones and Donta Hickson.
Wolfe continued to look good catching screens, and Peterson seems to be impressing with not only his speed, but his hard-nosed style of running. On one run, Peterson probably would've been tackled if the practice was in full pads, but he bounced off a few defenders and ran all the way into the end zone anyway. Bob Stoops, who was standing near the goal line as Peterson darted into the end zone quickly remarked to Peterson, "Get used to that end zone."
But not to be forgotten is KeJuan Jones, who says he's ready to go now that the pads are coming on.
"This is the kind of practice I really like," Jones said. "I think I'm a physical runner anyway, so the fact that I can actually get out, run hard, lower my shoulder and try to make something happen is a big benefit for me.
"I think I'm having my best camp yet. I just feel like I'm running harder and faster. I feel so comfortable with what I'm doing. I just feel like things are falling in place for me."
Also impressive again was redshirt freshmen Jacob Gutierrez. Gutierrez got in late, but made his chance count as he had some moments with a couple nice carries and screen passes. Gutierrez showed good balance and cutting ability, and drew some praise from his teammates for his efforts.
J.D. Runnels was once again dominant blocking in the inside drills, and his backup wasn't too shabby either. With Dan Townsend and Dane Zaslaw out with injuries, converted linebacker Russell Dennison is getting a lot of reps and showed some signs today that his big hitting ability will also pay off blocking.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Brandon Jones caught just about everything in sight, and Mark Bradley made two nice catches coming back to get short passes. Will Peoples and Mark Clayton were also impressive again catching the ball over the middle, but what's new?
The lineups continued to stay pretty much the same again on Wednesday. Center Vince Carter, who came into the fall a question mark because of a banged up knee, went through all of the drills for the third straight practice.
The first day in shoulder pads was a very good day for the defensive line. Lawrence Dampeer bounced back on Wednesday and had his best practice thus far. On one series in the team blitz drills, Dampeer was in on four straight plays.
A lot has been made about Dampeer being out of shape coming into the fall workouts, but what people also don't realize is that he battles a strong case of asthma and even went through the full supply of relief from his inhaler during today's practice.
Dampeer's father, who was at practice today, had a message for Sooner fans about his son.
"Don't give up on Moe. He's going to be there in the end."
Dusty Dvoracek has also noticed Dampeer, as well as the other young defensive tackles.
"They're playing great," said Dvoracek. "Moe has gotten better every day. Remi (Ayodele) is working hard. He's really picking things up. I'm really impressed with Cory Bennet. He's a young guy that I like. And (Carl) Pendleton and (Steven) Coleman — I really like those guys because they work hard. Pendleton is a real fundamentally sound player.
"I just don't see how we cannot be great," Dvoracek said when asked about the overall talent on OU's defensive line. "Our defensive ends are good. At defensive tackle, there aren't many people who are better than us. I just can't see any way we won't be a strength of this team."
"We're playing well," said defensive end coach Bobby Jack Wright on his unit. "We've got great leadership in Cody and Jackson, and Thibodeaux and Birdine know what they're doing. I also like the progress of John Williams, Alonzo Dotson and Laenar Nixon.
Clint Ingram and Gayron Allen are solidifying their starting spots in the first three days of practice. Both had great workouts on Wednesday and were always around the ball.
Ingram, who is now the starter at the strongside linebacker spot after being moved from the middle, is excited about his new home.
"I'm really happy that the coaches have confidence in me," said Ingram on being atop the depth chart to start fall practice. "I've worked hard in the summer. I know it's my opportunity to finally contribute as a starter on this football team, and I'm not going to waste this opportunity.
"This is the spot for me. Coach Venables put me in this position because he thought my skills were better suited for this position. He's the best linebacker coach in the country. If he tells me I'm a better strongside linebacker or offensive guard, then that's where I'm going to go play. I like this position, because the way we are scheming our defense now I get to cover in some passing seams and that's what I like doing. It's giving me an opportunity to do some things that I've always wanted to do.
In the past the Sooners have used a safety as their strongside linebacker or 'Roy' spot. But this year that duty is apparently going to go to Ingram, and he's trying to learn how to play the position from the best.
"In the summer I worked with Schmitty on my feet and my backpedaling. I watched a lot of film on Roy Williams when he was here. If you think about it, he played the position I'm playing because he always came up and played strongside linebacker. I watched how he covered and things he did, and I've picked up a lot. I know he's a defensive back and I'm an linebacker, but he's got some linebacker skills and I've got some safety skills. I learned a lot by watching Roy."
Demarrio Pleasant also had a great practice on Wednesday and is another linebacker who always seems to be around the ball.
The Sooner defensive backs more than held their own against OU's receivers on Wednesday, despite the fact that Antonio Perkins sat out the last portion of practice with leg cramps.
The OU safeties had a great day batting down passes. Jason Carter jumped in front of a route over the middle to pick off Paul Thompson, and Tony Cade, Donte Nicholson and Brodney Pool also knocked down passes.
It was another good day for junior cornerback Chijioke Onyenegecha. Chijioke showed his skills on one play when he jumped on and out route and nearly picked off the pass.
True freshmen Marcus Walker always seems to make a play every practice, and he did so again today knocking down one pass.
Wednesday's 8/11 Practice Report
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