Red/White Breakdown, Quotes

Oklahoma receiver Lendy Holmes returned the second-half kickoff 100-yards for a score during the Sooners' annual Red-White game Saturday in Norman. See inside for a position-by-position look at the highlights from Saturday, plus quotes from Bob Stoops, Chuck Long, Paul Thompson, Rhett Bomar and Brent Venables. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

A record Red/White game crowd of 41,400 showed up at Owen Field Saturday hoping to find the answer of who will start at quarterback next season.

But instead of finding that answer they witnessed the defense, who had plenty of questions of their own, dominate the Sooner offense for most of the afternoon.

In fact, it wasn't until the 6:33 mark of the fourth quarter that the offense was able to sustain a scoring drive and punch the ball into the end zone on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Paul Thompson to Travis Wilson against the first team defense.

On the other hand, the defense had a great day picking off four passes, forcing two fumbles and recording 12 sacks while allowing just 10 points.

See below for a position-by-position look at the highlights from Saturday's Spring game.

The stat sheets aren't particularly impressive for the OU quarterbacks, but in their defense the performance suffered because of a lackluster effort by the offensive line and several dropped passes by the receivers.

Paul Thompson threw two interceptions, but should get bonus points on Chuck Long's notepad for leading the only scoring drive of the game.

On the drive, Thompson hit Quentin Chaney for a big gain on a play-action pass and then found Travis Wilson in between several defenders in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown connection. In all, Thompson was 13-for-24 for 131 yards.

Rhett Bomar had his moments completing 9-of-19 for 72 yards, but threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Bomar had his best drive, if you want to call it a drive, stalled after one play. On first down, he hit Bubba Moses for a 30-yard gain that would've had the ball inside the defense's territory. But Moses fumbled the ball as he was being tackled and drive was over just like that for Bomar.

Bomar also showed some agility, while running for his life to get away from several defenders, picking up six and eight yards on a pair of scrambles.

Tommy Grady didn't throw any interceptions, but was never able to get the offense moving. Grady, who completed 5-of-15 passes for just 33 yards, was the quarterback on OU's drive that resulted in a 42-yard field goal. However, the series started on the 36 yard-line and only advanced four yards on the three plays before the field goal.

Running Backs/Fullbacks
Not much to say here other than there wasn't much room to run today for the backs.

Donta Hickson led the way with 21 yards on six carries, while Kejuan Jones carried the ball 11 times for 19 yards.

Jacob Gutierrez finished with 13 yards on six carries and also caught two passes for -5 yards.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Travis Wilson, Quentin Chaney and Jejuan Rankins drew the start, but it was redshirt freshman Lendy Holmes who saved the day and awoke the Owen Field crowd at the beginning of the second half with his 100-yard kick-off return for a touchdown.

Travis Wilson led the receivers with five catches for 32 yards, including the lone offensive touchdown of the day.

Chaney, who stands 6-foot-6, had a great day with three catches for 56 yards. Chaney had one of the bigger plays of the day when he was running wide open deep in the secondary and caught a pass from Thompson that set up Wilson's touchdown.

Tristen Ross caught four bals for 42 yards, but also had five dropped passes. Holmes finished with three catches for 23 yards and even showed some Mark Clayton-like moves on one catch to pick up a first down.

Bubba Moses led the way for the tight ends with three catches for 42 yards. Joe Jon Finley caught two balls for 14 yards.

Offensive Linemen
The offensive line gave up 12 sacks and OU's trio of running backs carried the ball 23 times for 53 yards. Enough said? Let's continue...

Add in the quarterback rushing numbers and the offense finished with 23 yards on 37 carries. Where have you gone Jammal Brown, Wes Sims and Vince Carter?

In all fairness to the offensive line, they were limited in the types of blocks they were allowed to use while. Also, the offense used only 25 percent of their playbook, according to Chuck Long and Bob Stoops.

Defensive Linemen
The question to ask here is who didn't play well because as you've read above, the running game was non-existent.

Dusty Dvoracek, who had worked with the second team to start the two previous scrimmages, drew the start on Saturday and made his presence felt with one sack and one tackle for loss. Although, the stat guy had to have fallen asleep when Dusty was on the field, because I remember him wreaking much more havoc than one tackle and one sack. He was virtually unblockable, until he left the game with an injury to his left arm.

Remi Ayodele started along side Dvoracek and finished with two tackles and one sack. Steven Coleman also recorded two tackles and one sack. Redshirt freshman Cory Bennett led the way for the interior linemen with six tackles.

Nevertheless, I think it's safe to say Jackie Shipp will be able to sleep at night with the rotation he already has on campus.

Alonzo Dotson and Larry Birdine drew the start at defensive end. Birdine led the ends with three tackles, while Dotson led the way with two sacks.

Backup defensive end John Williams also feasted on the offensive line with three tackles and two sacks. Juco C.J. AhYou finished with two sacks.

Straight A's go to this group for the third consecutive scrimmage this spring.

Rufus Alexander was all over the field leading the team with eight tackles, three for a loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Middle linebacker Zach Latimer also stuffed the run well with six tackles and made a great diving interception over the middle.

Clint Ingram continued his tremendous spring effort with six tackles, one sack and one pass breakup.

Even walk-on Ryan McGrath got into the act with four tackles and one interception off of an underthrown Rhett Bomar pass, which he returned for a nice 20-yard gain.

Other than the big pass play from Thompson to Chaney, this group performed better than expected.

Chijioke Onyenegecha looked like everything he was billed to be coming out of junior college. Onyenegecha, who finished with eight tackles, covered his man like a blanket all afternoon, broke up one pass, and had the big hit of the day when he demolished Jacob Gutierrez on a running back screen play. He was only tested deep once, but was running stride for stride with Rankins as the ball was overthrown.

Onyenegecha started at corner along with Eric Bassey, who was third on the team in tackles with seven. Starting at safety and playing most of the day with the first team was Jason Carter and Darrien Williams. Lewis Baker also saw action with the first team as the nickel back.

Speaking of Williams, the corner turned safety was impressive again as he jumped a Rhett Bomar out pass and returned it 35-yards for a touchdown.

Tony Cade and D.J. Wolfe also had a good day with the second team secondary that did not allow a scoring drive all afternoon. Cade picked off one Paul Thompson pass, while Wolfe was great in coverage and was third among the DBs with four tackles.

Special Teams
Garrett Hartley didn't get much action today, but when he did he took advantage of it going 3-for-3 on extra points and hitting a 42-yard field goal.

Cody Freeby struggled punting the ball averaging just 38.2 yards on 15 kicks, but Stoops said after the game he was nursing a bad back this week.

And once again, Lendy Holmes had the play of the day with his 100-yard kick-off return.

Head Coach Bob Stoops:
On the defense outplaying the offense
"Defensively, they're at an advantage. Wednesday our offense moved the ball up and down the field, but that happens. We get to see our offense every single day. They're used to seeing our plays. And we didn't do everything. That's the other part that's hard to judge."

On the quarterback race
"We'll see. They're all still learning. Today was probably an average day overall for them. I think that's fair to stay, but I've seen a lot this spring that's really good. They've made a lot of progress and they'll learn from a lot of these throws. That's just part of the process. They need to keep getting snaps. We'll make some decision as we get here into the summer – Coach Long, the offensive staff and myself — and see where we're at. We're not going to jump into anything here today. As we sit through it, we'll start making some decisions on what direction we feel we need to go."

On the overall spring
"I'm real pleased overall. The guys are working hard at it. We need a lot of snaps, but they're getting it. We've really been free from injury all spring, which is good. I feel positive that we'll make the strides that we need to by gametime next year."

On the play of the secondary
"I was pleased. They were very solid, very consistent, where they should be, made a lot of plays. Of all the scrimmage, it was probably the most pleasing to me to see their play and to see their positioning."

On Chijioke Onyenegecha's play today
"He has a really solid day, and Eric Bassey's had a great spring as well. Those guys have really come on and are playing well. Darrien Williams showed again today. He's been solid all spring. We're getting there. I like the way those guys are playing."

On the dropped passes by the receivers
"Some were stripped out and knocked out and some you'd like to see them still retain. Some of these guys are still learning, they're capable though. They'll correct that. I like the fact that defensively we stripped out some. Those receivers, I feel, are going to be good and learn from this too."

On Cody Freeby
He's nursing a back (injury), which probably pretty obvious. That's why we didn't want to aggravate it any further. He's been dealing with that really the last couple of weeks. We've got to get that calmed down to get the consistency that we need."

On overturning the officials in the scrimmages
"Yeah, that was pretty fun, and without any arguments. It's never that easy on gameday is it. He (Brent Venables) was mad at me, but in these kind of games you can do that."


Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables:
On the spring
"It's been good. Again, there were some plays there in the secondary that concern us. We're not very deep. Having Marcus Walker not out there is an opportunity for a number of guys to develop, improve and see who can do what. Some of the experiments were good. I think all three experiments in the secondary were strong and improved our team.

"Going into the fall, some of the young guys will have to contribute just because of the lack of numbers and because of their talent and ability as well. I think our front seven has a chance to be very good. Again, will we get the same kind of leadership that we had out of our two ends last year? But I really like out linebackers. I think they're going to be really good. Another year of experience with our inside players has been good. C.J. AhYou is what we hoped he would be, and Calvin Thibodeaux is playing his best football prior to his injury.

"I think we've got some good, young players who are ready for it to be their turn. Again, you had a great level of competitiveness going from the beginning of the spring, and just a lot more urgency with our attitude. In their minds, guys are out there fighting for their lives and we need them to attack the workouts in that nature like they have been."

On several young players stepping up this spring
"It's what we needed to have happen, and it looks like it's moving in that direction. We need to continue to improve over the course of the next seven weeks prior to our summer workouts. We need to have a heck of a summer. If there's ever been an important summer since we've been here, this is the summer. A lot of what our guys do on their own, outside of the weight room, continuing to keep their minds fresh, finding what their weaknesses are and attacking those weaknesses. We need to become close, we need to develop leadership."


Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long:
On if he's ready to name a starting quarterback after Saturday's scrimmage
"If I had my druthers I'd like to keep that thing going throughout the summer. It's still early. There's no reason to name anybody at this point."

On the battle going on into the summerv "I think so. I think everybody expected some guy to rise to the surface, but I knew better. They are young, they are still learning. They were in front of a crowd today and it was a different feel for them."

On when he expects to name a starter
"Based on the Nate Hybl-Jason White contest, for two years we usually went into the fall with three scrimmages before we named one. We'll definitely name a guy hopefully 10 days out from the first game. We don't like to name a guy the starter of game week, because now he has to deal with all that attention and have a game to play Saturday. We like to at least do it 10 days out like we did those two years."

On how much progress the quarterbacks can make in the summer
"Quite a bit. They organize the a lot of seven-on-seven sessions, and then they'll do quite a bit of throwing in the summer."

On how the summer workouts help them even though he can evaluate their play in the summer
"No, but it helps them in the fall when they get into two-a-days. You find out where they're at and how much they progressed from the summer."

On if any of the quarterbacks separated themselves this spring
"I really did not anticipate anybody separating themselves at the beginning of spring, and I don't know if they have at this point. I'll look at the tape and grade it. I think we've had three guys that have performed well on different occasions, and at other times you saw some growing pains. Paul has a little bit more experience and that showed a little more today, but the other two have shown promise. They have futures, they're just young and still learning."

On the vanilla offense today
"If you get out here and try to trick them all day long, you don't get a sense of what individual players can do. That's what I wanted to see — what each guy can do. And obviously, we have some good tape now to watch on that."

On how far the offense has come this spring
"We felt really good over 15 practices. We really scaled back today. I think we only showed about 25 percent today. We don't want that tape to end up all over the Big 12. We didn't motion hardly at all today, we didn't use a lot of formations today like we normally do to keep them offense balance. Overall, I thought it's been a good spring. I think we've progressed a lot further than I thought we would as a young offense."

On the advantage of waiting until the fall to name a starting running back
"It keeps it competitive with three guys that need to be competitive. They haven't earned anything yet. It's always good to keep it competitive throughout the summer from that standpoint. It also keeps them hungary and working. To me, it's like I haven't earned yet, so let me earn it. That's the way you have to be."

On if he feels pressure to name a quarterback so they can get better continuity with the offense
"No, we did it with Nate and Jason. We're in no hurry. It worked out well with them. They got better throughout the summer for two years and we ended up having good teams around those guys. And our teams rallied behind those guys, knowing they had two guys that could play. We want it competitive as long as we can."

On who has shown the most leadership qualities
"They have their moments. Leadership comes with time, experience, age and confidence. One of the things at times they kind of lose that leadership at times, but that's where I come in and work at it with them on a daily basis."


Quarterback Rhett Bomar:
On defense getting the best of the offense
"Our defense is really good. They came out a little fired up today because we got them in the scrimmage a little earlier in the week. Overall, I think I had a really good spring."

On if the holding call after his first completed pass of the game
"Yeah, it hurt because it puts you in a first and long and then a second and long. We didn't really get into a rhythm and then we're out after four plays, so it was kind of rough and a little frustrating."

On alternating reps between three different players not allowing the quarterbacks to get into a rhythm
"When you're switching, I was out there one and out one time, it's real hard to get into a rhythm. When you get about 10 plays in a row and start to complete passes and get you flowing and you feel more comfortable. When you're out and get back in you're cold. It's hard to keep yourself warm on the sideline."

On the vanilla offensive gameplan today
"We only ran a quarter of our offense today. We didn't want to show anything, it's on TV. We don't want people to watch at other schools and stuff like that. We didn't run everything we had, it's not even close. This is a really complex offense. We have a bunch of plays, but we didn't really show much today."

On competing for the job
"It's been fun. It's been exciting. I'm a competitor. I like to compete. It's what I expected when I came here to Oklahoma."

On the race continuing into the summer
"We'll start up on Wednesday when start working out and go all the way through this summer, into the fall and right up to the first game, I guess."

On if he's ready for the mental grind of competing into the summer
"Yeah, I'm ready. Of course, you don't know what to expect. They'll talk to us and see what they want us to do in the summer and stuff like that, and then I've just got to go out there and do it."

On if he fee's he's put himself in the mix to be the starting quarterback
"I feel I have. I think I've improved and got more consistent everyday. In the first two scrimmages, I thought I did well. I think that over the course of the spring I put myself in a really good position."


Quarterback Paul Thompson:
On his spring game performance
"It was a little shaky at times, but I think as a team we did progress. It might not have looked like it, but there are a lot of things our offense did well today."

On why the offense was shaky
"Sometimes that's how it is. Sometimes the defense might come out a little shaky, but sometimes both might be solid. We're going against a great defense, and they're well-coached. They just came out on their p's and q's this time."

On the restricted play-calling on offense
"A little bit because there was a lot of cameras out here. We didn't want to show too much, but we should still be able to make plays whether the defense knows or not."

On the scoring drive he directed against the first team defense in the fourth quarter
"That's definitely not only good for me as an individual but as a team. You don't want to end on a bad play or something negative. As an offense going into summer workouts, we can build off that and how we ended the scrimmage."

On preparing for the summer competition
"It's a whole lot to it. It's not really just what you see out here all the time."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories