4/4 Spring Football Practice Report

Bob Stoops, Kevin Wilson and Joe Jon Finley talk about Monday's practice. Also, defensive backs coach Bobb Jack Wright talks about the sudden move by sophomore cornerback D.J. Wolfe (pictured above) up the depth chart. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Haderthauer)

Two days after their first major scrimmage of the spring, the Oklahoma football team returned to the practice fields Monday in full pads for a two hour and 15 minute workout.

"About what I thought on Saturday," said OU head coach Bob Stoops when asked about his thoughts on the scrimmage after reviewing the film. "It was good. I liked it on both sides of the ball. We made a lot of good progress. I like where we're at. We're making good progress in all areas."

Below is a position-by-position look at the major news and notes from Monday's workout.

Quarterbacks
In our opinion, Monday belonged to Tommy Grady. Grady did throw two interceptions that were both the result of tipped passes at the line, but other than that he was zipping the ball all over the field.

One of the tipped passes was also during the seven-on-seven drills, where the linebackers are allowed to rush without having to be blocked by the offensive line, and that is exactly what happened when Rufus Alexander tipped a Grady pass that was eventually intercepted.

Other than that, Grady showed his strong arm and even some scrambling ability, rolling out on one play and finding walk-on receiver Justen Chilcoat open 30-yards downfield for a nice game. Grady was also nearly perfect on swing passes, slants and crossing routes. Grady also made several passes splitting defenders over the middle that only he could make with his arm strength.

Rhett Bomar and Paul Thompson has most of their success throwing the ball short for the most part. Bomar did throw one interception when Tony Cade stepped in front of a quick out pass. However, it was a weird play as only the center and Bomar moved after the snap. Bomar still made the throw, a quick out pass, but Cade was ready and made the interception that he would've taken to the house in a game.

Thompson had a better day then he did on Saturday and was very good throwing the ball short. He also kept the ball on a couple of option plays.

Running Backs/Fullbacks
The plays of the day from this spot belonged to Jacob Gutierrez. They were only runs of 11 and 9 yards, but in typical fashion Gutierrez made several people miss in the process.

At fullback, Dane Zaslaw and Russell Dennison continue to get a bunch of reps in the race to win the backup job behind J.D. Runnels. At this point, it looks like Dennison has the edge, but Zaslaw is still adjusting to the position and had a nice 9-yard catch today.

Receivers/Tight Ends
Jejuan Rankins, Travis Wilson, Quentin Chaney and Lendy Holmes continued to get reps with the first team, but Tristen Ross and walk-on David Robinson also had impressive days today.

On one play, the 5-foot-7 Robinson took a quick slant from Thompson, turned upfield, split the safeties and was off the races for a 50-yard gain before being caught from behind by Jowahn Poteat.

The Sooners have also worked a lot on reverses this spring, and today they did so again to Travis Wilson and Fred Strong.

Nobody of note stood out at tight end today, but one who has had a solid spring is Joe John Finley. Finley, who is just in his second year of playing tight end, talked about his progress after practice.

"I had a great offseason," said Finley. "I was able to put on 12 pounds. I'm at 240 and I 'm still running well. I'm finally developing into a tight end. People will have to remember, I played quarterback all through high school."

"I think camp is going really well," Finley continued. "I feel so much more comfortable out here. I understand what's going on and that's really helping me.

Offensive Line
After Saturday's scrimmage, offensive line coach and running game coordinator Kevin Wilson said he wasn't going to tinker with the center position after their nightmarish performance. Well, things have apparently changed.

Chris Bush was moved back to the starting center spot in place of Kelvin Chaisson, who is now starting at guard. Chris Chester started at the other guard spot, but also saw some time as the backup center.

J.D. Quinn, who had the most trouble snapping the ball on Saturday, is the third team center, but also got some reps with the first team at guard on Monday.

"This is not just a snap thing," said Wilson when asked about his decision to move Bush back to center. "Everybody talks about how everybody struggled with the snap, and it's hurt us at practice a little bit, but it's not just a snap thing. Actually, Kelvin has been doing fine at center and hasn't had much of a problem with the snaps. Most of the bad snaps have come with the backup guys.

"I just didn't like how Kelvin was playing at center compared to how well he can play at guard," Wilson continued. "He was doing OK, but he wasn't playing as wide or as big as I need our centers to play. So, I put him back at guard and I can tell he likes it a whole lot better.

"What it does for us is it puts another guy (Chris Bush) back at his natural position. Chris, as it turns out, is our best center and he's played there before. Kelvin has been a starting guard and it puts him back at his best spot. Davin is so good that he looks like a natural at left tackle. What we have to do is establish the other side."

Stay tuned. It appears as if the game of musical chairs on the line has officially began.

Defensive Line
The great news on the defensive line today was the return of defensive end Calvin Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux, who missed last season with a knee injury, returned ahead of schedule but didn't work in the full-contact drills. However, he did see some first team reps during the skelly drills.

Stoops said Thibodeaux could play today if there was a game, but they want to move him along slowly.

"Even though he wants to go, we have to pull him out when we start doing some live action," Stoops said. "I just don't want to push it. He's ready and feels good but it's just getting some snaps and fundamental work. Calvin's done a really good job rehabbing. He's worked very hard. He was having a great year and we believe he'll be back and in good shape to play."

One other note at defensive end, it appears that C.J. AhYou has moved into a solid three-man rotation with Alonzo Dotson and Larry Birdine. And AhYou and Dotson both had great practices today.

AhYou constantly got pressure, while Dotson recorded one sack and batted down two passes at the line, one of which was intercepted by defensive tackle Cory Bennett.

At defensive tackle, it was still Carl Pendleton and Remi Ayodele starting out with the first team. However, Dusty Dvoracek, Steven Coleman and Bennett all rotated in during the practice.

Linebackers
It was another good day for the linebackers, as they teamed with the defensive line to keep the running game in check.

One of Brent Venables focuses this spring has been working with his group on getting back in pass coverage, and Clint Ingram had another great day doing just that. Ingram made one diving pass in the seven-on-seven drills and broke up up two others in coverage.

Zach Latimer, Rufus Alexander and Demarrio Pleasant also had great practices stuffing the run and in pass coverage. Alexander tipped one pass blitzing the quarterback during the seven-on-seven drills that was intercepted.

Secondary
Things got really interesting here on Monday, as sophomore D.J. Wolfe was moved to the first team at cornerback in place of Chijioke Onyenegecha midway through the practice.

Wolfe has been impressive all spring, but his performance in Saturday's scrimmage and the first half of Monday's practice convinced defensive backs coach Bobby Jack Wright to make the move.

"D.J. had a real good scrimmage and that caught my eye," said Wright. "He's only been over there for a few weeks and already he's assignment-sound and aggressive. He's got good speed and he competes.

"As team drills developed today he was having a good day, so I gave him reps with the first unit. There's a great competition with he and 'Choke'.

"He just needs more reps," Wright continued. "Any time you move a guy from a position he's played all his life to a position he's played sparingly, he just needs reps. And he's getting a lot of reps this spring."

At safety, it was Darrien Williams and Lewis Baker still working as the starters. When OU went to the nickel, Baker moved to the 'Roy' spot and Williams played along side Tony Cade at safety.

Wright was asked about his safeties after today's practice, and the first player he mentioned was Williams.

"A guy I really like is Darrien," Wright said. "He brings a lot of ability to the position. He's paying with a lot of aggressiveness and intelligence. I like his attitude right now and I like what he's bringing to the table. Right now, he's one of our best football players."

Williams talked about the adjustment from corner to safety.
"I was wondering too if I was every going to settle on a position, but I looked at it and it's a position that I can have a lot of success at. That is the kind of attitude you have to have as Sooner, and as a teammate.

"I actually played safety in high school, so it's not that difficult for me. I'm not having a difficult time with the assignments. I've got it down pretty well."

The Sooners will take Tuesday off before returning to the practice fields on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.


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