OUInsider Weekend Wrapup (9/18)

An inside look back at the week's events in Oklahoma football.

A Shocking Conclusion to a Great Career

"It was just too much to overcome. Some of it was true, much of it was innuendo and circumstance, but the bottom line was a pattern of behavior that could not be ignored. At this time, the best move for Dusty and the team is to disassociate ourselves from each other. It will be hard on the team, and hard on Dusty, but perhaps it can help him get his life flowing in a positive direction. Dusty is a smart young man, a leader, and obviously a phenomenal athlete, but that does not absolve him of his responsibilities as a citizen."

So ended the candid statement of one person associated with the OU football team tonight after it was announced that Dusty Dvoracek would no longer play football for Oklahoma.

The decision was made this evening (Friday) by head coach Bob Stoops who concluded that it would be in the best interests of all parties if Dusty Dvoracek were no longer associated with the team.

We all agree that DD is a great player. A near 4.0 student, but also one that has had his share of circumstantial troubles. Dvoracek was the driver of the ill fated pick up that bounced Brent Rawls out of a chance to play quarterback. It was Dvoracek who allegedly was involved in several altercations over the past two years. Each time there appeared to be a plausible excuse for the incident. But after a while a pattern develops, and the head coach has to make a painful choice - for the good of the player, and ultimately, for the good of the team.

Obviously our concerns are with Dusty and the well being of a life long family friend that was injured in a silly accident last Saturday night. It appears that both will eventually be OK.

Current DT Options

The team will miss Dusty the leader, and Dusty the player. Who will fill his spot? Perhaps Lynn McGruder, maybe junior Remi Ayodele, or freshman Carl Pendleton. But none will play like All America candidate Dvoracek.

The move probably opens a huge opportunity for Lawrence Dampeer. Dampeer has made steady improvement as he moves from the doghouse to earn playing time. There is no doubt the Dampeer is now OU's most promising DT. But how will he respond, and will he accept the challenge that he before has ignored? His coaches believe that he can. He has strong support at home, but now it's up to Moe to step up and do something for his team. Dampeer, still not in Sooner shape, is unable to play an entire game. It may be two to three months before he can do so, but if he applies himself it's possible.

The bottom line is now OU's chances at National Championship number eight rest squarely on the shoulders of a talented player that has yet to be motivated to reach his potential.

Is the defensive line adequate without Moe or Dusty? Yes. But it would be dominate with both and very good with one. And right now the only choice left is ‘very good.'

We asked defensive line coach Jackie Shipp to outline his DT candidates Wednesday before the Dvoracek announcement became official. It's no secret that coach Shipp prefers four steady players rotating at DT. Besides senior Lynn McGruder, Shipp has redshirt freshman Carl Pendleton, who actually started for the first time against Houston, junior Remi Ayodele, who saw his first extensive action last week and played very well, and RS freshman Steven Coleman who probably did not play as well Saturday as his counterparts. And of course, dog house resident, but potential star, Mo Dampeer.

"We're playing more and more guys because the younger guys are showing improvement and they are starting to understand the technique. We are very big on technique here at Oklahoma, because there is no room for a mistake playing that close to the football.

"Look at a guy like Carl Pendleton, who was in basically the same kind of situation that Kory Klein was a few years back. Carl has made great strides and improvement since the first day he stepped on campus. He is hard working guy, who works hard mentally as well as physically, and who wants to be a good football player. Because of that, he made good strides and that is why he is playing more. And he has been productive when he has been in there.

"Steve Coleman is another good young man, who is learning, who works hard on his technique. He is just now mentally beginning to understand blocking angles. As he gets physically stronger, he is going to be a lot better football player. Mo Dampeer has made great strides as he is losing weight and he is getting the technique down, and we all know what kind of athlete that he is. He has been doing very well in practice.

"Cory Bennett, a true freshman, is learning. In the last two scrimmages, all of a sudden he is not looking in the backfield. He's taking the right steps and he's understanding the technique better. With more reps he is going to get it. The bottom line, for everyone of them, is learning technique."

"Like Remi was thinking when he first got here, "I'm just going to run over this guy and I don't need any technique — it's not true. To play the position you must have some kind of technique to be successful, especially when you are playing against guys who are just as big and just as good an athlete as you are. You have to play with leverage and you have to have a good first step, good with your hands and good with your eyes. That teaches me how to play the game of football and to be a good defensive tackle."

"Carl is only 19 years old, not quite 20 yet. Right now he weighs 275 pounds. Eventually, Carl Pendleton is going to be a 295-pound guy and is going to look like a brick house. That is going to come with maturity and he is going to get that every year. It is good weight that he has now and we don't want to put bad weight on him. Coach (Jerry ) Schmidt does a good job with him, and eventually Carl is going to be 6-4 and he is going to be able to carry 295 pounds."

What about Dampeer?

"Mo is doing a good job thus far. He is loosing weight, working hard in practice and he has gotten better at practice. His technique has gotten better. I am happy with Mo. He is taking care of his business in the classroom and taking care of the things that he should do. He has become a better student, a better football player and he is making progress. If Big Mo keeps it up, the sky's the limit."

The future at defensive tackle?

Shipp continued; "Do I think we have some good football players? Yes. Will recruiting make us better? Yes. We are getting better and we are recruiting to make the position better, which will eventually make this group of defensive tackles the best in the country, and who will help this team win."

The bottom line is that the Sooners have a huge opportunity for a couple of young tackles to start rather quickly along the defensive front. And, as we have stated here before, Oklahoma is in on the very best defensive tackles in the country, including #1 ranked Callahan Bright, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania (6-2/315/4.90); #2 ranked DeMarcus Granger, Dallas Kimball, (6-2.5/325/5.20); #4 ranked Vince Oghobaase, Alief Hastings, Texas, (6-6/300/5.20); #5 ranked Ekom Udofia, Scottsadle Chaparral (AZ), (6-1/290/5.00); #8 Kade Weston, Red Bank, NJ (6-5/300/5.00); #9 James McKinney, Louisville Central, (6-3/263/4.90); as well as McKinner Dixon, of Lufkin, Texas.

If paying time is an important factor with any of these prospects, the Sooners should have a solid shot after deflecting the negative recruiting angles piled high by opponents. Of course, the Sooners already have a commitment from Roy Miller, Kileen, Texas (6-2/295/4.97), who visited Norman last week and reconfirmed his solid commitment to OU.

Another possibility along the D–line is Walker Ashley, (6'4, 281, 4.84), from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Ashley has been a standout for three years, and he has developed into one of the best defensive tackle prospects in the country. Last season, Ashely finished with 74 tackles, 35 solos, 10 sacks, four caused fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

"My top five is, not in any particular order," said Ashley. "I like Ohio State, USC, Penn State, Minnesota and Oklahoma. I don't have a favorite and I am looking forward to my visits at each school. Oklahoma just started to recruit me and they just recently offered me. I never even heard from Oklahoma until about a week ago when I received a phone call from them. They called and said that they were very impressed with my film and that Coach (Bob) Stoops wanted to offer me a scholarship. I thought that was pretty cool that they would react that quickly. I was very flattered by that. Other than that, all I know about them is that they have a great tradition and they have a great football program. They are always playing for National Championships it seems and they have a real good defense."

And keep on eye on Dallas Carter star Vincent Williams, (6-4, 275. 4/78), who committed to Texas A&M back in April, but things could be changing for him. Williams has fielded many phone calls this month and admits that he is open and listening to a lot of schools right now. "I am firm with A&M but I am not closing my options," said Williams. "I am open to other schools right now."

Recruiting Changes:

California's top linebacker, Rey Maualuga, (Eureka, CA) was scheduled to visit Oklahoma for Oregon but had to reschedule due to conflicts. But top TE prospect Martellis Bennett,(6-6, 240. 4.8), who earlier had committed to Miami, will be in Norman for the Duck hunt. Bennett, who also plays basketball on a D1 level, is likely the most complete tight end in the country, and is ranked #2 right behind fellow Houston TE DajLeon Farr, Houston North Shore, (6-5, 240, 4.62).

Give Farr a slight edge in speed and Bennett the nod in power blocking. Credit current OU players for getting Bennett to look this way, and it may go down to a three way OU-Texas-Miami battle for Bennett's' signature. Farr is also looking at the Sooners, and OU would love to get either. If not, North Carolina TE Jonathan Hannah (#5 nationally), has booked passage to Norman for the Nebraska game, and would be an easy choice for Oklahoma to say yes to.

Demetri Stewart (6'4, 215, 4.6) Oakland Park Northeast, Florida is a late entry to visit this weekend. Stewart is considered a lean to Miami, but is visiting OU this weekend and will visit LSU, Ohio State and Notre Dame.

Duck Season Opens September 18

The OU coaches have a lot of respect for Oregon, who have the best record in the Pac-10 over the last decade. Oregon was upset last weekend at home against Indiana, 30-24, when they turned the ball over seven times. However, the Ducks almost overcame all the mistakes and finished with 500 yards of total offense, while holding Indiana to under 200 yards.

Brent Venables gave us a peek at the Sooner plans: "We would love to see them turn it over, and we are going to do everything that we can to go after the football. They put the ball on the ground a bunch last week and put it into the other teams' hands. However, that is not really indicative of the style of play that they had through the course of last year. I am sure that it is an area that they emphasized and worked on during the course of a week."

Venables expects fireworks from the Oregon offense; "They chuck it around and they have proven that against quality team's year-in and-year-out. Just looking at their season last year and at their productivity offensively, they have an explosive offense that is difficult to defend. They are very smart at how they attack. It is a pro style offense and it will be somewhat of a different look for us this year. It is kind of a little bit like our offense in some of the formations — the shifts and the motions that you will see pre-snap."

"They have a really good quarterback in Kellen Clemens that is a good athlete and who has a good arm. He can beat you equally with his legs as he can with his arm. Oregon has excellent skill receivers and a great tight end. They do a great job of distributing the ball to all of those guys and in keeping you off balance. They have a 65-35 run-pass, which is probably somewhat surprising to a lot of people. The balance that they seek is a big reason why they have been as productive as they have over the years."

"They will come out here desperate and fight with the attitude that their backs are against the wall. Whenever we have been in a desperate situation we have always responded. The margin for error in their mind is none, and to me they are going to let it all hang out. They are going to come in here excited to play because everybody is telling them they are a bunch of chumps and bums, and everybody is talking about that they are a four touchdown underdog, which is absolutely insane. I would imagine that all of those factors would be used as motivation by their coaching staff.

"You look at Jeff Tedford (California Head Coach) and the success he has had being the former offensive coordinator there under Mike Bellotti's system, and both of those types of offenses are very difficult to defend. They have had a great deal of success against teams throughout the years."

"We are making improvement, but we have to make some big improvement here from the last game to this game and going into Big 12 Conference play. It is a lot of the little things because I think we have the right guys in the right positions. However, now it is a lot of the little things that you know that you come to find out during the course of competition on Saturday's that you miss Derrick Strait and Teddy Lehman, who have the ability to get guys lined up and make all the checks and adjustments. You could give them a lot of little things, tips and reminders, which they could communicate to the players just because they were starters for four years with vast amounts of experience.

"The things that our players are experiencing for the first time are things that we need to step up in the back-end and at linebacker. We need guys to take it by the horns and not just worry about themselves, but to get things squared away on the field because once the hay is in the barn it is up to them to get out there and do those things. As soon as they can get out there and do those things on the field, obviously the more sound you are going to be and a smarter defense will be out there on the field. We feel like we have the right guys, but now they just have to take more responsibility in that regard. It is a little thing, but a big thing. And to me, it will make a difference in us being very solid on defense or really, really good."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories