Despite rainy, windy and somewhat chilly conditions, the Oklahoma Football team practiced outdoors on Wednesday in full pads for two hours and 30 minutes.
"This is still perfect for Youngstown," joked OU head coach Bob Stoops with reporters in reference to the cold conditions in his hometown in Ohio. "It wasn't too bad once you got moving around.
"I knew we were going to have some contact, inside drills and live action. I don't like to go live with scrimmages on anything that's artificial if at all possible."
Below is a position-by-position look at the highlights from Wednesday's practice.
Of the three quarterbacks, Rhett Bomar and Paul Thompson seemed to stand out more so than Grady, who threw the only interception of the day.
Both Thompson and Grady threw multiple touchdown passes, with Thompson taking advantage of a bust in the secondary to hit Travis Wilson for a 50-yard touchdown. Bomar also connected with Jejuan Rankins deep for what would've been a 50-yard touchdown pass.
And once again, all three quarterbacks worked on running the option game. Paul Thompson ran well in the mini-scrimmage portion of the practice with two scrambles for first downs.
The battle for the backup fullback job is starting to look more and more like it's going Russell Dennison's way.
OU tight end/fullback coach Kevin Sumlin talked about the race to backup J.D. Runnels after today's practice.
"I think we're beginning to find some guys that can play there," Sumlin said. "For the last two practices, Russell Dennison is really beginning to play some good football and has picked it up the past few days.
"What he has to learn is just the fundamentals. Everybody says can't you just get him to run into the line just like he does the wedge on special teams, but it is a different environment here. You just don't run into the line and hit people, there are certain fundamentals involved. But he's beginning to play with more aggression and violence. It looks like he's a guy that can help us at that position."
At running back, it was another great day for Kejuan Jones, who looks much quicker than last season. Jones busted runs of 10, 13 (twice) and 25 yards.
Donta Hickson also has a nice day with a pair of 15-yard runs. Jacob Gutierrez was pretty much contained for the most part of today's practice.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Wednesday was a good day for all three tight ends, as Bubba Moses, Joe Jon Finley and Willie Roberts made several catches in the short passing game.
Tight end coach Kevin Sumlin talked about his group's progress from last season.
"We have a different look this year because they've all played in big games and made plays," Sumlin said. "They've been in the bowl games and championship games. They've been through all these practices, so this is a little different than it was last year.
"I think they're having a good camp and making good strides. All of them have improved in areas they've needed to improve in. I think that they feel like they're going to be a major factor in how we play next year, and I think they're right."
At receiver, the big plays were made by Rankins and Wilson (see above), but it was also a nice day for Fred Strong and Lendy Holmes. Quentin Chaney struggled early with two drops, but bounced back later in the workout with a couple of tough catches. Holmes had two touchdown catches.
Kevin Wilson didn't make any changes on the line today from what he did on Monday.
Today's starters were: Chris Bush at center, Chris Chester and Kelvin Chaisson at guard, and Davin Joseph and Akim Millington at tackle. The second team line consisted of: J.D. Quinn at center, Brett Rayl and Ben Barresi at guard, and Chris Messner and Branndon Braxton at tackle.
One player who seems to be right at home after the switch is Chris Bush. Bush snapped the ball well and was the only linemen who could handle Dusty Dvoracek in the one-on-one drills.
One change on the defensive line on Wednesday had Steven Coleman starting at tackle, along with Carl Pendleton, in place of Remi Ayodele.
Ayodele worked on the second team with Dusty Dvoracek, but both saw time, along with Cory Bennett on the first team.
One player among the defensive tackles that seems to be having a great camp is Carl Pendleton. Pendleton got constant pressure today and looked great in the one-on-one drills against the linemen.
At defensive end, it was still Larry Birdine and Alonzo Dotson getting the first reps with the first team. Calvin Thibodeaux and C.J. AhYou also worked in with the first team.
Speaking of Thibodeaux, he seems to be recovering quite nicely from his knee surgery recording a couple of sacks on his first real day back in full pads.
AhYou, who is beginning to become a fixture at getting reps with the first team, talked about the adjustment from junior college football to Oklahoma football.
"The main thing I've had to adjust to is a new defense, and that was a problem for me very early in camp," said AhYou. "When I first got here, I was lost because it was so much different form what I played at in junior college or BYU. I think it's beginning to come along for me and I've got it figured out. I'm finally playing without thinking, instead of thinking and playing so-so."
AhYou also talked about the talent level at his position.
"There's some very good players here, but it's not something I didn't expect. I knew Oklahoma was going to have good players, but I don't see anything that I can't compete with. Yes, they're very good, but I think I belong here and I think I can play here."
It was another great practice for all four of OU's scholarship linebackers.
Clint Ingram had another great day in coverage with an interception, while Rufus Alexander almost had one himself.
"I'm happy with the progress they're making," said Brent Venables. "I think they're playing with tremendous energy and desire. All those guys want to be good players. They study hard, they look at film, they ask questions.
"I really couldn't be happier with how things are coming along. By no means are they perfect players, but I don't know if I've ever had any perfect players."
One player who has been impressive this spring is middle linebacker Zach Latimer, and Venables talked about his latest MLB project after practice.
"Zach is a great guy to coach. He comes prepared everyday to have a good practice. My biggest thing with Zach is to keep him from being too fast and aggressive, because at MLB if you're too aggressive, you overshoot the play. Sometimes he'll read the play, but because of his aggressiveness he'll overrun the play. We're trying to get him to slow down just a tad. We're telling him to read it and wait because he's getting there so fast."
Monday saw D.J. Wolfe get reps with the first team, but today it was Chijioke Onyenegecha who returned to the first team at corner along with Eric Bassey. And it also appeared that Onyenegecha had a bit of extra fire, as he had great day in coverage nearly picking of two passes and knocking down one other.
At safety, when the defense went to the nickel it was Darrien Williams, Tony Cade and Lewis Baker starting in the secondary with Onyenegecha and Bassey. Brett Bowers and Jason Carter mainly worked with the second team.
The secondary busted a couple of times on Wednesday, which resulted in two long touchdown passes, but overall this spring they've been very solid.
"We've done pretty well at that, but we have to keep it all in context," said Venables on the defense stopping the big play this spring. "The offense is working on situational things. One day they work on the mid-range passing game, the next day it's maybe the long or short game. It's not like our defense is seeing a gameplan that could be anything. Our defense isn't stupid, they can tell when the offense is working on the short passing game.
"We have stressed our guys getting range and getting out on the perimeter. I do think we've been better reacting against the deep ball, and I think we've been in better position. I think we've done a better job this spring. The next part is making more plays on the ball when they are in position. I want to see more knockdowns and interceptions, but I think that will come."
One other note, Adrian Peterson and Marcus Walker both worked out on the sidelines unning through various conditioning drills during practice.
Wednesday's Spring Football Practice Report
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