Norman, Okla. — The Oklahoma football team went through their second major scrimmage of the fall on Saturday, and once again all eyes were on the quarterbacks.
Overall, it was an up and down day for redshirt freshman Rhett Bomar and a steady, but not spectacular, performance by junior Paul Thompson.
Bomar led two scoring drives, one with the second team offense against the second team defense, and the other in the red zone drill, but was picked off twice and should've been picked off on three other passes.
Thompson, on the other hand, avoided the big mistake and one led scoring drive, when he directed the first team offense down the field against the first team defense.
In all, Thompson completed 17 of his 28 pass attempts for 192 yards with one touchdown and interceptions, while Bomar finished 16-for-36 for 151 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.
OU head coach Bob Stoops, however, was quick to point out Bomar's interceptions weren't entirely his fault.
"A couple that were intercepted though, the quarterbacks were getting hit on," said Stoops. "One, as he throws the ball, and the other bounces off a receivers' shoulder pads and into the defenders hands. It's not always the quarterbacks."
Bomar's first touchdown pass came on a play-action 4-yard pass to tight end Willie Roberts with the second team offense against the second team defense. His second TD pass was also to Roberts, this time on a 15-yard post route pass in the red zone drill.
Thompson's touchdown was on a nice 2-yard play-action pass to tight end Joe John Finley, which capped a scoring drive against the first team defense.
"I think the scrimmage was more of what the coaches were looking for, as far as production and leadership," said Thompson, who only led one scoring drive, but did not turn the ball over. "I think I was able to step it up from the last scrimmage. The last scrimmage, I was flat, but today I was able to make some plays. That was one of the things I wanted to do — step it up from the two-a-days that we've been going through."
Bomar talked about his performance.
"I don't know, I thought I did alright. It wasn't as solid as the first scrimmage, but we also did more things today. We ran more plays and things like that. I thought I started a little slow and picked it up a bit. We had some mistakes, but overall I think it was alright."
Bomar also talked about his two interceptions and three other passes that were almost picked off.
"Some of them weren't bad reads, but my throw was a little off. I under threw a couple, but I had some big plays also. I was a little up and down, I guess you could say."
Bomar, however, also showed some flashes of brilliance. He carried the ball twice on his first drive picking up first downs on each carry, and also hit Manuel Johnson for a 38-yard gain on third and 15.
"It was third and 15 and we got that deep pass down the sideline to Manuel. I was getting a little excited about that. I was throwing the deep ball alright, but I had another one of those that I under threw."
"We came out wanting to throw today," said OU QB coach and offensive coordinator Chuck Long. "We wanted to establish and throw the ball a little bit for the quarterbacks.
"Granted, we are probably not going to throw the ball as much as we did today, but when we do throw the ball we have to take good care of that. I was not as pleased with that aspect of it, but those are the growing pains with having young, inexperienced quarterbacks. So far in practice, they have taken great care of the ball. The interceptions and missed reads have gone way down. We've made some progress."
After two scrimmages and 10 practices, what appears to be shaping up between Bomar and Thompson is a battle between the steady, more experienced quarterback (Thompson) and a young quarterback with big-play ability but take propensity to take more chances down field (Bomar) yet make more mistakes.
Long talked about that exact description of the race after Saturday's scrimmage.
"You want spectacular, but you don't want 'chancey' either," Long said. "There is a fine line there between spectacular and somebody taking a lot of chances, but they've both been reading things very well.
"With Rhett, I have to go watch the tape. I believe he made some really good reads, but I think physically he just miss-threw some balls, which is going to happen. I'll never get mad at him for physical mistakes. As long as the reads are right mentally, I'll never get mad at him for something he does physically."
Long was also asked if he thought he might be ready to make a decision after today's scrimmage.
"No, we couldn't make it at this point. Like I said, I think that goes back to we weren't ready to make that anyway."
Could both quarterbacks play against TCU?
"You would do that if both played well, practiced well and graded well. If both deserve to play that is a possibility. That will be Coach Stoops' final decision on that. In any race, you have to leave those doors open. You never know."
See below for a position-by-position look at the rest of the highlights from Saturday's scrimmage.
Adrian Peterson was held out for the second straight scrimmage, but OU head coach Bob Stoops said it was for precautionary reasons.
"He could've went, but why take a chance? His leg feels good, but we are going to make sure it is 100 percent before he is out there going."
With Peterson on the sidelines and Kejuan Jones still out with a foot injury, the door was left open for Donta Hickson and Jacob Gutierrez to get more reps, and 'Gute' didn't disappoint.
Gutierrez, who finished with 39 yards on nine carries and caught two passes for 25 yards, provided several highlight-reel runs. On one play after catching a screen on third and long, he juked two defenders with a cut and plowed his way forward to pick up the first down.
"We still have some quality running backs," said Paul Thompson. "I thought 'Gute' had a great scrimmage today. I think a couple of times he broke guys' ankles. And on one play, he had two defenders crashing into one another."
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
All in all, it was a so-so day for the receivers. They made some tremendous plays, but also dropped several passes.
One of the surprises of the scrimmage as true freshman Juaquin Iglesias, who led the team with five catches for 63 yards.
Freshman Manuel Johnson had one of the biggest plays of the day by a receiver when he raced past freshman cornerback Brian Jackson to make a 38-yard catch on third and long.
But the big play of the day came from redshirt freshman Quentin Chaney, who came back to catch a deep sideline route, and then race across the field or 40-yard gain.
Travis Wilson, Jejuan Rankins and Lendy Holmes started with the fist unit. Taking the reps with the second team unit to start the scrimmage was Chaney, David Robinson and Jermaine Hardison. Eric Huggins, Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson ran as the third team receiving corp, but also got reps with the first unit throughout the scrimmage.
True freshman Malcolm Kelly and redshirt freshman Fred Strong did not play in the scrimmage.
And it was another great day for the tight ends, who continue to be more of a factor in the passing game this fall. Willie Roberts caught two touchdown passes, while Joe Jon Finley grabbed one for himself.
It was a solid day for the offensive line, despite the fact the offense clearly wanted to work on the passing game.
Nobody flourished in the running game, but the line held up well giving up only five sacks on 68 passing plays.
"I thought maybe we were not as good because today we tried to work a lot with the pass," said offensive line coach Kevin Wilson. "We had a couple of tailbacks out, but I thought our protection was pretty good. I thought on short-yardage plays, especially without Adrian or Kejuan, we weren't as effective as we are going to be.
"The two's looked pretty good, but again we did a lot of work on the quarterback situation, and we don't have a lot of backs right now," Wilson continued.
"Statistically, that may not make the run game look too good. I think with the quarterback running game and those guys coming back, and the tight end play that we're getting, I think we're going to be pretty good at running the ball."
The starting line today was the same as it has been all spring: Chris Bush at center, Kelvin Chaisson and Chris Chester at guard, and Davin Joseph and Akim Millington at tackle. Chris Messner also got a lot of work at tackle in place of Millington.
For the most part, the defensive line did a great job helping stuff the run. In all, the running backs combined for just 80 yards on 28 carries.
Carl Pendleton, Remi Ayodele, Steven Coleman and Cory Bennett, who recorded one sack, all received a bulk of the work with the first team at defensive tackle.
C.J. Ah You and John Williams started at defensive end and rotated with Calvin Thibodeaux and Alan Davis. Larry Birdine did not participate in the scrimmage.
There are absolutely, positively no worries here. Looking at the stats, the top four tacklers on the day were linebackers.
True freshman Curtis Lofton led the way with nine, followed by Rufus Alexander ( 8 ), Clint Ingram (7) and Zach Latimer with (6). Ryan Reynolds, who also had a great scrimmage, finished with four. And they did it with each playing through minor injuries.
"I kept looking at Coach Stoops waiting for him to call off the dogs," said Venables. There's a happy medium where they need to get their reps, but as a group they are really banged up. I like the way they responded when they were challenged. I thought it was really good for them, and for the most part they went out there and played well."
As for their work in the passing game, Rufus Alexander returned one interception 37 yards for a touchdown, and Curtis Lofton picked off a deflected pass. Clint Ingram was also in position to make two interceptions, but couldn't make the catch on either ocassion.
In our eyes, one of the major stories of the scrimmage was the solid play of the secondary as the first team more than held their ground, giving up only the catch by Quentin Chaney despite tight coverage.
Marcus Walker did not go through the scrimmage, which opened up the door for D.J. Wolfe to start at corner along with Chijioke Onyenegecha. In fact, secondary coach Bobby Jack Wright said after the scrimmage that if the season started today it would be Wolfe and Onyenegecha as the starting corners.
In other news, Oklahoma has decided to move true freshman Reggie Smith from corner to safety full-time.
Bob Stoops was asked after practice if the move had to do with the emergence of D.J. Wolfe at corner.
"No, a lot of it has to do just with the play of Reggie. Reggie gives you a lot of options at safety with his ability to play man and ability to do other things. He gives you a lot of options. It's more because of the diversity Reggie gives you in there."
It is believed that Smith, who will compete with Darien Williams and Tony Cade for the safety spot opposite Lewis Baker, will be given a great shot to win the job over the next three weeks.
Smith and true freshman Nic Harris also worked with the first team in the nickel and dime packages, and Harris showed his big-hitting ability on one play smashing a receiver after making a catch for a first down.
Stoops gave his impression of the secondary's performance on Saturday.
"They were improved. I thought the tackling was better than it was in the first scrimmage, but you expect that. They did have better positioning on routes in this scrimmage. They were in better position today. But there was definitely some balls that were dropped that should've been intercepted. In the end, we did get a few intercepted."
"I think they were aggressive," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables on the secondary. "They made some plays on the ball. We gave up a boundary route, but that was when the two's and three's were in there. I'm sure there are things we can improve on, but I like the way they competed. For the most part, there were no mental mistakes. They were very limited in that regard. Guys were in really good position."
It was another good day for Garrett Hartley kicking field goals. The sophomore was 9-for-15 overall, perfect from inside 47 yards, but also managed to boom kicks of 52 and 57 yards before coming up just short from 62.
Punter Cody Freeby was solid, but not spectacular averaging 41.4 yards on seven kicks. Juco transfer Mike Knall got only four attempts, but ended up with a 41.3 average.
"It was hard for me to evaluate," said Stoops on the scrimmage. "There's always one side making a play and there's always another side competing with it. It's hard for me to have a good, honest assessment. I thought they all competed well and played well for the most part. There were some sloppy penalties that we have to clean up.
"I think it's hard, offensively, without AD because he is involved in so much of what we do. When you have the run game with him. He changes the whole picture."
The Sooners will take Sunday off before returning to the practice field Monday morning.
Willie Roberts 4 yards from Rhett Bomar
Joe Jon Finley 2 yards from Paul Thompson
Willie Roberts 15 yards from Rhett Bomar
J. Guitierrez – 9/39
P. Thompson – 3/12
L. Gibbs – 3/10
D. Hickson – 6/8
R. Bomar – 3/7
J. Snell – 5/-4
P. Thompson: 17-28-192, 1 TD
R. Bomar: 16-36-151, 2 TD, 2 INT
H. McEachern: 3-4-17
J. Iglesias: 5-63
W. Roberts: 5-32 (2 TD)
J. Rankins: 4-39
Q. Chaney: 3-57
T. Wilson: 3-42
J. Hardison: 3-39
J. Gutierrez: 2-25
L. Holmes: 2-4
D. Hickson: 2-1
M. Johnson: 1-38
J. Greene: 1-7
J. Chilcutt: 1-5
R. English: 1-5
M. Clapp: 1-3
J. Finley: 1-2 (TD)
D. Robinson: 1-(-2)
C. Lofton: 9
R. Alexander: 8
C. Ingram: 7
Z. Latimer: 6
J. Carter: 6
D. Wolfe: 5
L. Baker: 4
R. Reynolds: 4
N. Harris: 4
B. Simmons: 4
R. Smith: 3
B. Jackson: 3
E. Bassey: 3
C. Onyenegecha: 3
L. Robinson: 3
D. Williams: 3
C. Ah You: 3
C. Bennett: 3
K. Clayton: 2
T. Cade: 2
I. Pleasant: 2
A. Davis: 2
J. Williams: 2
J. Poteat: 1
A. Patrick: 1
C. Thibodeaux: 1
C. Pendleton: 1
B. Blackard: 1
L. Nixon: 1
B. Eldridge: 1
A. English: 1
C. Lofton: 1, 5 yards
C. Bennett: 1, 5 yards
B. Simmons: 1, 3 yards
J. Williams: 1, 2 yards
TACKLES FOR LOSS
C. Ingram: 1, 4 yards
R. Alexander: 1, 37 yard TD
C. Lofton: 1, 30 yards
C. Onyenegecha: 3
C. Ingram: 3
D. Wolfe: 2
R. Reynolds: 2
B. Jackson: 1
E. Bassey: 1
L. Baker: 1
C. Lofton: 1
Thompson solid in second scrimmage
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