Norman, Okla. — The Oklahoma football team went through workout No. 4 of fall practice in shoulder pads, shorts and helmets Sunday in the final tune-up before the first major scrimmage on Monday.
"I thought we looked really good," said OU head coach Bob Stoops after practice. "I thought the quarterbacks and receivers made a lot of nice throws and catches. I like the way everyone is working. I continue to be incredibly impressed by the talent of the secondary with the young guys coming in."
Stoops also said after practice that tomorrow's workout would begin at 5:30 p.m. with the major portion of the scrimmage beginning inside the stadium around 6:30 p.m. and at least an hour.
See below for a position-by-position look at the highlights from Sunday's workout.
Yesterday I gave the nod to Paul Thompson, but today I thought Rhett Bomar had the better day of the two quarterbacks.
Thompson threw one interception and made some nice plays, but it was Bomar who seemingly hit every route with extreme precision on Sunday.
In fact, some of Bomar's passes were so good that several of the media members were buzzing about his play.
Overall, both quarterbacks threw it well, but it was Bomar who crisper. Bomar was hitting on everything, from deep routes to Travis Wilson, to flag routes, post patterns, out-routes and curls.
On one play, Bomar even scrambled and found Donta Hickson open on the sideline for a nice gain. The Grand Prairie, Texas native also hit Jejuan Rankins with a bullet deep curl route that if thrown anywhere else would've been intercepted for a touchdown.
If you're scoring at home, based on our opinion through four practices it's 2-2 in the head-to-head battle between Bomar and Thompson.
However, the first major test for Bomar and Thompson comes during Monday's scrimmage, and both are looking forward to the opportunity.
"I am definitely looking forward to it," said Bomar. "Scrimmages are important, but practices are important too. Every rep at this position is important. But the scrimmages are more like a game situation. I think that's what the coaches really like. They can evaluate us better.
"In a game-like atmosphere, the coaches won't be behind us most of the time. You can make plays, but you have to make plays on your own. I know there won't be 85,000 people there, but there will be fans in the stands and I'm looking forward to it.
"I think I really have a good opportunity," Bomar continued. "It looks like we're down to two guys. I don't know what the situation is with Tommy (Grady), but when I get my chance I'm just going to go out there and shine and make plays."
"It's a big opportunity for me," said Thompson. "It's an opportunity for me to showcase my talents in a game-type atmosphere. I have a lot of success under my belt, but I need to keep adding on to it from the past scrimmages and past years. I need to keep building on those and have a successful scrimmage tomorrow.
"Plus, it's our first day in pads, so that will be something we look forward to. Everybody looks forward to the more physical part of practice. It's just time to go full-go. It is a little different because of the atmosphere. People are chomping to get down to it."
As for Tommy Grady, the redshirt sophomore was not in practice, but rather at study hall on Sunday.
"We decided to hold Tommy out today," said Stoops. "We wanted him to spend all day working on his class. His class is a very tough class. It's one that he really needs to sink his teeth into, so we decided to bring him into the football aspect of what he needs to do next week. I think you'll see him out here next week. But he needs to concentrate on that class, that's his priority."
For the second straight day, Adrian Peterson went through the individual drills, but was held out of the contact portion of practice.
Filling in for AD quite nicely was Kejuan Jones and Jacob Gutierrez. Gutierrez was very impressive at times today and made a few nice runs. Donta Hickson also ran well and caught the ball once or twice out of the backfield.
One true freshman making a move for playing time is fullback Matt Clapp. Clapp is now getting reps with the second team at fullback and is also a starter on the kick-off return team. At this point, with the way Clapp is progressing. we would be shocked if he redshirts this season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Once again, it was another great day for Travis Wilson. Wilson caught short passes, passes over the middle as well as a couple of deep balls.
As for the freshmen, it was a great workout for Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson. From all accounts, it looks as if both freshmen may be on the verge of making a move for early playing time.
Iglesias went deep once for a nice grab during the one-on-one drills, and Johnson, who reminds us some of Mark Clayton, is tough to cover and knows how to get open. Eric Huggins also caught three out routes and is a major threat on fades with his size, athleticism and ability to go up and get the football.
Malcolm Kelly has also made several plays this fall, but was hobbled today with a slight injury. Nevertheless, all of the freshmen seem to be living up to the hype and it will be interesting to who from this group plays this season.
Walk-ons David Robinson and Jermaine Hardison also had a nice practice and even earned some reps with the second team.
Redshirt freshman Fred Strong was limited today and spent most of the practice riding the bike.
Kevin Wilson continued his experiment on Sunday with Duke Robinson at tackle and Davin Joseph at guard. It's certainly not a permanent move at this point, but it's something that Wilson is intrigued by.
"The best player we have is Davin," Wilson said. "He's smart enough and strong enough that he can play left tackle and also play guard. Today, I put him in there some at left guard. Akim (Millington) cramped up at the end of practice and then we put Duke at left tackle, and he played pretty well.
"Duke gives me some pretty good flexibility to move Davin inside or to the right side. Akim's been playing very well, and (Chris) Messner, in his fourth year, is doing solid. We're trying to force (Jon) Cooper in there at center. With (Chris) Chester, Chris (Bush) and the two young guys (Cooper and Jesse White), we have four centers who are pretty good."
"I think our talent level is high," Wilson continued. "We have experience and we have youth. And the youth is talented enough to challenge some of that experience and keep those older guys playing hard. Davin Joseph did that to Mike Skinner as a freshman. They split time three years ago and Davin took over. The young guys are good enough to play. They're not ready to play yet, but they're really good and will be ready to play. I like them a lot."
As for Brandon Keith, the junior college transfer was not at practice again on Sunday.
"I don't know," said Wilson when asked about Keith's status. "We had meetings yesterday (before practice). We told him that we were going to start rotating him in with the one's and two's and just get some competition going. We're not going to have a revolving door, but just get some guys competing. Then we had a 3 p.m. meeting and he wasn't there.
"He did text me last night and said he had a family problem he had to deal with. Today, I couldn't get him. Some players said he was going to come by and see me. To be honest, I don't know what the situation is. Again, I think he is awfully good. We need to get him back. I can't tell you what his problem is because I don't know what it is. I got a text, and I'm not a big text guy.
"We've only been here a couple of days and he's missed two out of the first four practices," Wilson continued. "It's early, but with any position, even as good as Adrian was, you have to earn your spot. One of the great stories to me was when some of these great guys struggled. Look at the kid at North Carolina (basketball star Marvin Williams). He doesn't start, yet he's the No. 2 kid in the draft. Some of these new guys have to understand that. I don't know if he has a problem with that. Again, I got a text message that said he had a personal problem."
Freshmen Ben Barresi and Brandonn Braxton also did not practice today because of injuries. Barresi has a knee injury, but his status won't be known until the swelling goes down and doctors examine it further. Braxton has a minor shoulder injury, but is expected back soon.
John Williams and C.J. Ah You continue to run with the first team at defensive end, but it was a great day on Sunday for Calvin Thibodeaux.
Thibodeaux was seemingly all over the field, making at least three sacks, batting down passes at the line and forcing a fumble. Ah You also got into the mix with one sack.
At defensive tackle, it was a tough day for the big cats as the heat got to a couple of them, including DeMarcus Granger and Carl Pendleton. Howvere Remi Ayodele continues to show why he will be a starter this fall as he made several nice plays. Also Steven Coleman has been very solid in workouts.
The starters are pretty much set here, so we took some time to watch the freshmen today.
The two that impressed us the most on Sunday were Ryan Reynolds and Curtis Lofton. Reynolds, especially, had a nice day in the team drills. Reynolds is a physical player with great size, speed and instincts. Lofton, who is also good against the run, got looked good in pass coverage and was receiving lots of instruction today from Brent Venables.
Rufus Alexander had a nice practice for the second day in a row recovering a fumble. And Demarrio Pleasant got reps with the first team at all three positions.
The big question here on Sunday was the status of Marcus Walker. Well, by all accounts he is going to be fine and even suited up for today's workout.
Walker, who had one shoulder operated on during the off-season, banged up the other shoulder during Saturday's practice. But the sophomore isn't worried about it.
"I can go," said Walker, who suited up but didn't participate in the non-contact drills. "I practiced today, I got in lines. We'll just see how it feels and how the coaches feel about it.
"No need to fear. I came right back today. No need to fear. I don't have any problem. I just had a little scare yesterday."
Walker also mentioned that Oklahoma's talent and depth at cornerback is fueling him to get back on the field quicker.
"I made it back to practice because I understand how important it is to practice. We have a lot of great players here at Oklahoma. It is what it is. There's a lot of tough competition. That's why you come to Oklahoma, to play against and with great competition."
And Walker's competition is catching up fast. After the injury yesterday, secondary coach Bobby Jack Wright moved D.J. Wolfe and freshman Reggie Smith from the boundary corner position to Walker's wide-side corner spot, and both impressed.
Despite the buzz created by Smith, and we'll touch more on that later, don't forget about Wolfe. The Lawton, Okla. native was actually ahead of Smith today as the first-team wide-side corner.
Making a splash at corner on Sunday was Chijioke Onyenegecha. Chijioke got a lot of reps with the first team and possibly had his best practice as a Sooner picking off one pass and blanket coverage on several others. Even when Chijioke's man got open for a catch, it wasn't long before the senior smacked him.
Back to Smith, the true freshman from Edmond, Okla. continues to be the buzz of the fall among the coaches and media. The coaches won't say it publicly, but from talking with them you get the feel that they think Smith has a great chance to start somewhere and be the next great defensive back at OU.
One other bit of news at corner was arrival of juco transfer Allen Patrick. Patrick played the first three days at safety, but was given a shot at corner on Sunday and picked off one pass.
Also not to be forgotten is walk-on defensive back Dan Dixon. Dixon will probably never see the field, other than in mop-up time, but we thought we'd point out just how hard Dixon fights, scraps and claws on every play.
At safety, it was Darien Williams and Lewis Baker drawing the start on Sunday. Tony Cade and freshman Nic Harris also got work with the first team today.
Speaking of Baker, he is the only safety to keep his starting spot through the first four days and appears to be improving by leaps and bounds in pass coverage. Redshirt freshman Brett Bowers also caught our eye for the second straight practice with some nice plays in pass coverage.
Another impressive aspect to watch in the secondary is the coaching of Bobby Jack Wright, who leaves no stone unturned. Today, Wright hitting on all the angles, even schooling the defensive backs on how to catch up and break up a pass after they've been beaten.
On punt returns, it was Jejuan Rankins taking the first reps, followed by Lendy Holmes, Reggie Smith and Juaquin Iglesias. Iglesias also got some reps with the first team front line on the punt return unit.
The gunners on the punt team today were Onyenegecha, Jowahn Poteat and Eric Bassey. Marcus Walker will also be a factor here once healthy.
The punting race won't officially heat up until next week, but from what we saw today Cody Freeby was very impressive.
Tomorrow's practice is set to begin at 5:30 with the scrimmage expected to start at 6:30 and run for at least an hour.
Sunday (8/7) Practice Report
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