3/30 Spring Football Practice Report

Bob Stoops, Chuck Long, Tommy Grady (pictured above), Davin Joseph, Clint Ingram and D.J. Wolfe talk about Wednesday's practice. Plus, a position-by-position look at who did what. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Oklahoma football team returned to the practice fields for the fourth time this spring in full pads.

Like Monday, the Sooners started the workout on the practice fields South of Owen Field before moving into the stadium for some situational scrimmaging.

OU will hold their first full-scale scrimmage Saturday morning at 10 a.m. See below for a position-by-position look at Wednesday's practice.

Wednesday was a great day for Tommy Grady and a good day for Paul Thompson, while Rhett Bomar struggled with two interceptions.

However, Chuck Long says there still hasn't been any separation between the three.

"Absolutely not," said Long when asked if any of the quarterbacks have emerged. "None of the quarterbacks have separated from one another. I just don't see that happening with the three. If one of them does do that, then we will name a starter at the end of Spring. Bu the way things are going now, I can't see that happening. We would like for this thing to go through the summer and see how they lead throughout the summer. That is something we've done in the past."

Back to Grady, the sophomore from California looked very crisp and sharp while connecting for several touchdowns.

"I feel pretty good about how today went," Grady said. "I was taking some shots and we were completing them. I think I'm throwing the ball pretty well."

Grady also talked his mindset regarding the quarterback race.

"I just go out every day and not try to think about it," Grady said. "When I'm practicing, I'm just trying to get better. I don't think about another guy completing a pass, so I have to complete one. I think I'm right in the mix. The coaches will choose who they want and we'll go from there."

In the goal line portion of practice, Grady hit Fred Strong twice for touchdowns. He also showed he's not just a passing quarterback by running an option and making a nice pitch to Jacob Gutierrez, who scored on the play.

Paul Thompson once again looked great in the short passing game, but also has the big play of the day hitting Travis Wilson for a 70-yard touchdown connection on a deep pass. He also hit Bubba Moses on for a touchdown in the goal line drill.

As for Bomar, the redshirt freshman was picked twice and had one botched snap exchange from Kelvin Chaisson, but bounced back late in the practice hitting Travis Wilson for a touchdown in the goal line drill.

"We're not so much concerned about the physical play all the time," said Long when asked about interceptions influencing the quarterback race. "Sure, we don't like to see mistakes, but how does the quarterback handle that kind of adversity? What does he do on the next play in the huddle? What does he do on the sideline? Does he show bad body language to where his team gets let down? If you throw an interception early you still have to go play, so how you go about that goes along with being able to lead a team."

Running Backs/Fullbacks
Kejuan Jones did not attend practice because of class, so that left the door open for Jacob Gutierrez to get more reps, and he didn't waste his opportunity.

Gutierrez looked great and scored several touchdowns in the goal line portion of practice, throwing several juke moves in the process.

Gutierrez scored on a 12-yard touchdown run and two option pitches for 8-yard TD runs. On one option play, Gutierrez juked a defender and then outran Dusty Dvoracek to the end zone. On another, he shaked Zach Latimer out of his shoes on the way to the end zone. Gutierrez also scored on an 8-yard run off tackle, breaking through the line and then making Tony Cade miss on his way to the zone.

Donta Hickson was also impressive, breaking one 25-yard run, but struggled in pass blocking.

At fullback, it's no surprise to anyone that J.D. Runnels looks great and is even getting more work in the situational scrimmages than expected. Runnels, along with Russell Dennison, both looked good catching the ball out of the backfield.

After practice, Stoops was asked about Adrian Peterson missing spring practice this spring recovering from shoulder surgery, and if he thought that would hurt his development.

"If he was in spring practice it would be fair to say that he wouldn't be getting a lot of action in scrimmages, Stoops said. "In the end, it's working out the shoulder and we'll tend to it as best we can. You know, he wasn't in last spring's practices either. It didn't seem to hurt him a whole lot."

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The daily switch of Lendy Holmes and Quentin Chaney as the third starting receiver has appeared to stop, at least for now. On Wednesday, it was Chaney who started with Jejuan Rankins and Travis Wilson for the second consecutive practice.

Stoops was asked after practice if Chaney was beginning to separate himself from the other receivers.

"He's working and doing some good things, but he has a ways to go," Stoops said. "The other guys are also making some plays. I'm pleased with what he's doing and he's making progress. I'm pleased with the other guys, too. They're capable of making some plays. I'm not going to single out any of them. I like all of them really. The guys coming in the fall have great size and ability too."

Fred Strong is another of the redshirt freshmen who continues to emerge, catching at least two touchdown passes that we saw today. Tristen Ross also looked good catching one 25-yard pass from Grady. He is also already emerging as one of the better route runners on the team.

It was also another great day for Travis Wilson, who hooked up with Paul Thompson on for 70-yard touchdown. Wilson had beaten his man deep, but had to come back for the slightly underthrown pass, which he caught and then raced into the end zone where he capped off the play with a little celebration dance.

Offensive Linemen
The Sooners continued to go with the same starting group on the line that they have all spring, but they did tinker some with the center spot.

Kevin Wilson wasted no time mixing and matching at center after a bad snap. Chris Bush also got some snaps at center today, as both Kelvin Chaisson and J.D. Quinn struggled some with the snap.

One player who is adjusting to the new line is Davin Joseph, who has moved from guard to tackle. Joseph talked about the move after practice.

"I think I'm doing pretty well there," Joseph said. "I'm more comfortable there than I was last season. I'm getting more confident playing there. This is where they want me to play, so I'm OK with it.

"To be honest, I would rather be inside against the big guys instead of going against these fast guys," Joseph continued. "I'm a big guy, so I like going against big guys. I'm not a fast guy, and trying to chase those ends and linebackers isn't much fun."

Joseph also talked about the development of the line this spring.

"I think we're beginning to gel a little bit. The main thing is just to play without thinking about it. I know Kelvin is trying to get the snap down and block Dusty, and that's not easy. I've always thought Akim (Millington) is a good player, and he's getting a chance to show it. I think he's playing pretty well. Chris Chester's always been one of the best blockers on the team, he just needs to grow into a guard."

We also talked to the Florida native to get his thoughts on the quarterback race.

"All three are very talented, but all three bring something different to the table. Paul is a really athletic guy and strong leader. Rhett is a very smart guy and strong leader. Tommy has a gun, but he's quieter. He leads more by example."

Defensive Linemen
John Williams and Alonzo Dotson continue to get more reps in an attempt to get ready for playing time this fall, and both looked great again on Wednesday.

One one series, Williams showed his toughness getting pancaked on first down, but coming back to make back-to-back tackles on second and third down. Williams and Dotson also showed great quickness today rushing the quarterback and defending sweep running plays well. C.J. AhYou also got reps with the first team.

At defensive tackle, it seems like everyone is developing nicely.

Remi Ayodele and Carl Pendleton are still starting with the first unit, but Dusty Dvoracek quickly works his way in. Steven Coleman is also really coming on at tackle, and Cory Bennett practiced well with one sack.

One player who is always fun to watch is Pendleton. Carl is still a little undersized for the position, but he more than makes up for that with his quickness and is one of the hardest workers on the team. One one play, he may get overpowered because of his size, but on the next he's right back at it and can make a linemen look silly with his quickness and technique.

As for Dvoracek, the senior had another great day and continues to be in great spirits and working constantly with the younger players.

"Dusty's doing great," said Stoops. "He's a hard worker and a good football player. I don't think Dusty ever had a bad practice. He's certainly not having any this spring."

It was the Clint Ingram show on Wednesday for the linebackers. Ingram, who had struggled in pass coverage in the past, showed today that he is vastly improved in that aspect of his game with two interceptions, both off Rhett Bomar.

"That's something I'm working hard on," Ingram said. "I thought I did OK at that last year, but coach Venables has challenged me to get a lot better. I have good athleticism, and we have good athleticism at linebacker, so we should be able to do well in pass coverage.

Ingram talked about his two interceptions.

"On the first one, I jumped the route. I'm pretty proud because I read it right and he threw it right to me. On the second one, I was just back in coverage and he threw it right to me. The only credit I can give myself on that one is I caught it."

In addition to Ingram, it was also a good day for Rufus Alexander and Zach Latimer. Alexander did a great job of blitzing, and Latimer showed he may not have the size of Lance Mitchell, but he certainly has speed and instincts getting to running plays on the outside.

Tony Cade had a chance to work with the first team at safety, and looked pretty good for the most part.

When the defense went to the nickel, it was Cade and Darrien Williams at safety with Lewis Baker playing the nickel spot. Jason Carter and Brett Bowers started with the second team, but also got some first team reps.

Chijioke Onyenegecha and Eric Bassey are still the starters at corner, and it was another good day for 'Choke' as Bobby Jack Wright calls him.

On one play, Onyenegecha got physical with his receiver, which prompted Wright to say, "Choke, I told you you could be heavyweight." Onyenegecha also picked up one sack off a corner blitz.

It was also another good practice for D.J. Wolfe, who continues to impress us more every day after being moved to corner this spring from running back.

"Right now, I never think about playing running back," Wolfe said. I'm officially a corner. I think like a corner, I act like a corner. This is where I want to play.

"The main thing is working on footwork because that's the toughest thing for me. I'm so used to going downhill as a running back, but now I'm backpedaling all the time. That's been the biggest adjustment."

The Lawton native also commented on the move from running back to defense.

"I had to look at it in positive way. I talked it over with my parents and coaches, because they told me this was the best way to get on the field. I prayed about it, and now I'm glad I made the move."

Special Teams
For the first time this spring, someone other than Cody Freeby worked as the holder for Garrett Hartley. Getting a shot today was Jejuan Rankins, but the receiver was pulled after a botched snap and quickly replaced by Freeby.

As for Hartley, the sophomore kicker looked good, hitting one 45-yard field goal, and then on kick-offs booting the ball into the end zone and to certain spots when not instructed to kick it deep.

Today was the also the first day the Sooners worked on kick-off returns. The first team returners were Travis Wilson and Jejuan Rankins followed by Jacob Gutierrez and Lendy Holmes.

On the front line of the kick return team were: J.D. Runnels, Demarrio Pleasant, Russell Dennison, Clint Ingram and Zach Lattimer. The second line was Joe Jon Finley and Bubba Moses, and the upbacks were Darrien Williams and D.J. Wolfe.

The Sooners will take Thursday off before practicing again on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

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