Norman, Okla. — The Oklahoma football team went through their first scrimmage of the fall, and all eyes were on the quarterbacks for most of the 60-play workout.
"I was pleased with the quarterbacks," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "I thought they were both sharp in the huddle, at the line of scrimmage, and made a lot of nice throws. That part is really exciting for us."
Stoops was also pleased with the overall performance during the workout.
"I loved it. I thought it was more cleaner than I thought it would be. We only had a few busted assignments in all. The communication with the line and in the huddle, I thought, was really good. Overall, I was pleased with it. Nobody got hurt, guys worked hard.
"There were a lot of things you might expect — some tackling needs to be sharper but we've only been out here five days. Everybody has a lot to still work on. I thought there were a lot of positives and good things. Some of the young guys that you're looking to step up are making plays and doing good."
Below is a position-by-position look at the highlights from Monday's scrimmage. See the end of the story for the scrimmage stats.
If you were hoping for one quarterback to separate himself tonight, it didn't happen. Score scrimmage No. 1 a draw.
Both quarterbacks had their good, very good and not so good moments, but overall it was tough to pick one over the other. Rhett Bomar led two scoring drives (one touchdown and one field goal), while Thompson led one scoring drive. However, Bomar threw one interception.
Thompson was the first to lead the No. 1 offense and picked up two first downs before the drive stalled on a great pass break-up by D.J. Wolfe. Thompson then stayed in to lead the No. 2 offense against the No. 2 defense, but couldn't move the sticks.
Bomar then came into the game and immediately led the second team on a 73-yard drive that ended on a third-and-goal pass that hit the upright in the back of the end zone. Bomar was 2-for-2 on the drive, but it was was mainly fueled by the running of Donta Hickson and Jacob Gutierrez.
On Bomar's first drive with the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense, the redshirt freshman hit three straight passes, including a 30-plus yarder to tight end James Moses over the middle, while leading his offense into the end zone on a one-yard touchdown run by Jacob Gutierrez. Later on, a Bomar's arm was slightly hit in the pocket while throwing and the pass was picked off.
Thompson on the other hand, only led one scoring drive but didn't make any big mistakes. He managed to lead the No. 2 offense on a scoring drive against the No. 2 defense, making several nice completions in the process. Thompson did have one fumble in the pocket, but it was a great play by defensive end C.J. Ah You to knock the ball out of Thompson's hands.
"I was pleased with the quarterback play because we didn't turn the ball over," said Long. "We had one turnover, but Rhett got his arm hit. Those you don't get mad about. That's just football, it happens. They did a good job tonight."
Despite the one interception, Bomar was pleased with his performance.
"I think it went well," said Bomar. "I had those two drives. I should've got a touchdown on the first one and we did get in on the second one. I had a couple plays down the field that were needed.
"I was disappointed I didn't connect on the first touchdown drive. I was trying to get it over the defense and I threw it too high. I just have to continue to improve on the overall aspects of the offense."
Thompson was also satisfied with his play.
"I think it went pretty well. The offensive line was giving me time to throw and the receivers were running great routes and making great catches. 'Day-Day' (Jermaine Hardison) made a great catch along the sideline. It's plays like that that they've been doing all through two-a-days that are starting to show up in the scrimmages.
Thompson also was pleased that he avoided the big mistake.
"That's one of the focuses that you want to have. As a quarterback, not making the little mistakes, or little errors, that are going to put you in second and third and long, or the big mistake when you turn the ball over."
As for the quarterback race, let's just say Chuck Long has a tough decision ahead of him.
"I have not been entirely pleased with the quarterbacks through the camp because they've had some turnovers, but the last two days they've been really good," said Long after the scrimmage. "They're starting to hone in and protect the football. That's the big thing you have to learn as a quarterback — don't beat yourself so you can beat the other team. That's what we're learning right now.
Long also commented on his quarterbacks ability to make plays on the run, which was seen a couple of different times on Monday.
"I was pleased overall with their decision-making. Some of the scrambles you live with, some you don't. There are certain things in a scramble you don't want to do. They like to go out and compete and you really don't want to take that much away. It's like the quarterback coach coaching Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. You have to be careful how much you reign them in because they can both run and make plays."
Adrian Peterson was held out of the scrimmage for precautionary measures and Kejuan Jones played sparingly, which opened the door for Donta Hickson and Jacob Gutierrez to show what they can do, and both were impressive.
Hickson had a 30-plus yard run from scrimmage on the first scoring drive, caught a screen pass on third and long and turned it into a first down, and later scored on a tough one-yard touchdown run.
Gutierrez, who also scored on one-yard touchdown run, made several nice runs and showed flashes of being a Quentin Griffin type back.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
It was a so-so day for the receivers, but a great day for the tight ends.
James Moses caught several balls, including one 30-plus yard reception over the middle from Rhett Bomar, and Willie Roberts made a nice leaping catch over the middle and led the Sooner receiving corp with four catches for 77 yards.
Running with the first team at receiver to begin the scrimmage was Travis Wilson and Jejuan Rankins. Lendy Holmes was the first receiver off the bench for the first unit. Quentin Chaney made two nice catches on the second team for 19 yards.
True freshman Malcolm Kelly was held out of the scrimmage while still nursing a minor injury suffered on Sunday, but fellow freshmen Eric Huggins and Manuel Johnson each managed to come up with a catch.
The best catch of the scrimmage was made by walk-on Jermaine Hardison, who out-jumped a Sooner defender making the catch in mid-air and landing on his back for a 20-yard gain.
Even without Adrian Peterson making them look good, it was a nice day for the offensive line. They opened some holes for the running backs, protected well and looked much better than they did in the spring game.
Starting with the first unit was Chris Bush at center, Kelvin Chaisson and Chris Chester at guard, and Davin Joseph and Akim Millington at tackle. Starting on the second unit was Jon Cooper at center, J.D. Quinn and Brett Rayl at guard, and Duke Robinson and Chris Messner at guard.
Robinson, a true freshman from Atlanta, sealed off the left side early in the scrimmage allowing Hickson to break free for a big run.
Brandonn Braxton (shoulder), Ben Baressi (knee) and Brandon Keith (unknown) did not scrimmage. The Sooner coaching staff has still not heard from Keith, but are still leaving the door open for his return. However, that door is beginning to shut.
"We have a lot to improve on, but I think you see a lot of good things happening early, a lot of competition," said OU line coach Kevin Wilson. "Both sides are battling and having some fun.
"We don't go low on most of our tackling and scrimmage situations because we are trying to practice smart and healthy. For us, I understand this is the first day of pads, but we've been popping. We can be a lot better, but that was a decent first go."
The man among boys on the defensive line Monday was junior college transfer C.J. Ah You.
When asked who stood out during Monday's scrimmage, Bob Stoops, who rarely singles out a player, mentioned Ah You.
"C.J. Ah You had a really good day. You know me, I'm really not into bragging on anybody without looking at the tape."
Ah You, who started at defensive end along with John Williams, stuffed the run, rushed the quarterback and even forced one fumble while chasing Paul Thompson in the pocket.
Larry Birdine, Calvin Thibodeaux and Alonzo Dotson backed up Ah You and Williams at defensive end. And Birdine didn't waste any time making his presence known with a run-stuffing smash on his first play, followed by a lot of talking and head-butting.
"I thought it was pretty good," said Birdine on the scrimmage. "I thought we were physical on both sides of the ball. I'm sure we made some mistakes, but I also felt like we did some things well. We just have to go watch film and see what's up."
Birdine also talked about the potential of the defense.
"Our potential is awesome. We expect great things this year. I think today we took a couple of steps in the right direction. I think we'll be alright."
Starting at defensive tackle on Monday was Remi Ayodele and Carl Pendleton. Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman ran with the second team, along with DeMarcus Granger and Brian Simmons. Dusty Dvoracek did not participate in the scrimmage.
Rufus Alexander, Zach Latimer and Clint Ingram started with the first unit, while Demarrio Pleasant and freshmen Curtis Lofton and Ryan Reynolds worked with the second team.
The big plays of the day at linebacker came on Pleasant's interception of Bomar, and Alexander's untouched and perfectly timed blitz up the middle to sack Rhett Bomar a split second after the ball hit his hands after taking the snap from the shotgun.
Reynolds and Lofton also showed tremendous promise and kind of remind us of when Teddy Lehman and Jimmy Wilkerson showed flashes at linebacker as back-ups during their freshman seasons. Reynolds led the scrimmage with six tackles, while Lofton chipped in five.
Neither Marcus Walker or Eric Bassey played in the scrimmage, which gave corners Chijioke Onyenegecha, D.J. Wolfe and Reggie Smith a chance to continue to step up.
Wolfe and Onyenegecha ran with the first team defense, and both were impressive. Smith had his moments making five tackles, but was also beat on a couple of different plays.
"Certainly, I would have to say D.J. Wolfe," said secondary Bobby Jack Wright when asked he stood out during the scrimmage. "He got his hands on a lot of balls today. He made a lot of nice plays and a couple of break-ups and tackles on wide receivers when they did complete them. D.J. stood out the most to me today.
"Chijioke continues to show signs of really being a top-notch corner. If he'll ever just get to where he plays every snap at that level. He has a mindset where he loses it. He's like me; he's a little 'ADD' (laughs). He loses focus every now and then, and he knows that. We have talked about that a lot.
"You can't come out there and be focused four or five plays in a row, then lose your focus and not play as sharply as you should. He's aware of it and is addressing it. I think you saw him today do better at it.
"And Reggie impresses me as a true freshman. I feel good about the progress he is making."
Stoops also pointed out Wolfe's play after the scrimmage.
"D.J. has made great strides," said Stoops. "He is getting more aggressive the more he feels at home. He has the ability to do well there."
At safety, it was Darien Williams and Lewis Baker starting with the first unit followed by Jason Carter and Tony Cade. Freshman Nic Harris also got reps with the second team. Redshirt freshman Brett Bowers did not go through the scrimmage. Cade led the safeties with five tackles.
Overall, Wright was pleased with his unit's effort.
"What have we been in practice — just five days? I thought it was really clean, crisp. I'm really pleased because there were so few busts, coverage busts, assignment busts," said Wright. "Calls got in clean and were communicated, so from that standpoint it was good. The tackling was crisp.
"You're never totally pleased with everything. I wish we could've knocked down every pass and intercepted them. But, of course, you're never going to do that or be pleased from that standpoint. But deep balls, we were in good position. We didn't give up any deep throws.
"We still have a lot of things to work on. We missed a few tackles that you can't have in the secondary. When those guys miss tackles, it's big. We still have to improve on that, but it's the first day we've been out in pads. I did not expect the tackling to be as crisp as it will be, but they did not tower down to anybody.
To put it mildly, Garrett Hartley put on a show in his field-goal kicking performance at the beginning of the scrimmage.
In all, Hartley hit 11 of his 13 attempts, including two from 52 yards and one from 57.
"Garrett was great," said Stoops. "All of that was very smooth, the handling of the ball, the snaps, and Garrett was excellent kicking the football."
Gutierrez 1-yd run (9 plays, 75 yards)
Hickson 1-yd run (8 plays, 75 yards)
K. Jones: 5-11
Hickson: 12-48, 1 Yard TD
Guitierrez: 7-28 , 1 Yard TD
M. Johnson: 1-11
K. Jones: 1-5
R. Smith: 5
I. Pleasant: 4
Ah You: 1
D. Pleasant: 1
PBU (Pass Breakups)
Quarterbacks have their moments in first scrimmage
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