Monday Morning (8/15) Practice Report

Bob Stoops, Jacob Gutierrez, Chris Chester and Brent Venables talk about Monday morning's practice.

Norman, Okla. — After a much needed day off following Saturday's scrimmage, the Oklahoma football team returned to the practice field in full pads Monday morning.

And while the Sooners' neighbors to the North are canceling workouts and traveling to high school fields to get their practices in because of the lack of indoor facility, OU didn't miss a beat this morning moving their practice indoors to the Everest Training Center because of the wet conditions.

"We do everything just like we were out on the field," said OU head coach Bob Stoops, when asked if having practice indoors is different from practicing outside. "It works out a lot better than slipping and sliding out in the rain on the wet ground. It's safer, I think. It has really helped us. It comes in handy on days when it rains or you have lightning."

Stoops was also asked after practice if he had seen anything on film from the scrimmage that intrigued him.

"Not that I would talk about. Sure, we went through it and I was pleased in a lot of ways. I thought, overall, they competed well. A lot of young guys were out there doing a good job of knowing what to do without coaches having to be in the huddle with them. For the first two scrimmages, we haven't been out there with them much at all. So, it was good."

Sitting out today's practice were: RB Kejuan Jones, WR Malcolm Kelly, WR Fred Strong, LB Demarrio Pleasant and DL Cordero Moore. DE Larry Birdine and DB Marcus Walker returned to practice.

Below is a position-by-position look at the highlights from Monday morning's practice.

If we had to make a call on who was better this morning, we'd give the nod to Rhett Bomar, who was exceptional in the 7-on-7 skelly drills this morning.

If you're scoring at home, and we know you are, Bomar threw one interception this morning while Thompson threw two. Bomar's came on a tipped pass by safety Lewis Baker, while one of Thompson's was off the shoulder pads of a tight end and into the defensive backs hands. Thompson's other interception was picked off by Nic Harris. On Thompson's interception that was deflected, he was forced to throw the ball early to avoid the rush and just as the tight end turned around, the ball was there but he didn't have time to make the catch.

Both quarterbacks were forced to scramble a bunch on Monday because of the good play in the secondary, and in particular we thought Thompson had a nice day on the run, one time taking off up the middle with his receivers running go-routes and picking up close to 20 yards.

Bomar, on the other hand, hit a couple of big plays with 20-plus yard connections to Quentin Chaney, Eric Huggins and Jejuan Rankins.

Running Backs
Adrian Peterson went through every drill today and once again looked great. And with Jones out, Donta Hickson and Jacob Gutierrez continued to get more work with the first team.

Gutierrez, who made several highlight-reel moves during Saturday's scrimmage, talked about his game after Monday's practice.

"Because of my height and my size, you come up with a running style that can be successful for you. I think I'm strong and I think I've got speed, but because of my size I've learned how to make guys miss. When I get the football I'm thinking about juking a defender. I'd rather do that than try to run over him, I'm not going to win those battles. I do try to take advantage of defenders' leverage and which way he's going. I can read that pretty well."

At fullback, there appears to be a battle going on for the back-up spot to J.D. Runnels between Russell Dennison and true freshman Matt Clapp, both of which continue to get second and first team reps. Edmond native Dane Zaslaw also appears to be improving and got a lot of teaching and praise today from Kevin Sumlin.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Lendy Holmes didn't have a great scrimmage on Saturday, but the redshirt freshman bounced back Monday with a great practice.

True freshman Manuel Johnson also had a nice practice, as did Eric Huggins. In the one-on-one drills, Huggins is generally very tough to stop and today he showed why out-jumping Reggie Smith for a ball despite great coverage.

Jejuan Rankins, Quentin Chaney also made several nice catches Monday morning.

The tight ends have been spectacular so far this fall, but had a few lapses this morning. Aaron Cummings had the pass go off his shoulder pads for an interception, and James Moses made one catch over the middle but was stripped and lost the ball.

Offensive Linemen
The first team offensive line unit was the same for the most part with Davin Joseph and Akim Millington at tackle, Chris Chester and Kelvin Chaisson at guard and Chris Bush at center.

Chris Messner appears to be emerging as the first tackle off the bench when Joseph moves to guard. Brett Rayl also got reps with the first team at guard.

The second unit today consisted of: Duke Robinson and Brandonn Braxton at tackle, J.D. Quinn and Jon Cooper at guard and Jesse White at center.

Back to Chester, the converted tight end from California has maintained his starting guard spot, despite talk that he could be the odd man out this fall should someone emerge. Chester talked about his play after practice and the extra work he put in during the off-season to become a better linemen.

"The biggest thing, as the off-seasons go on, is you get more and more accustomed to knowing how to work and what you need to do," said Chester. "When you're a freshman you're trying to figure things out. That in mind, when I got to my final off-season I knew what to do and what Schmitty was going to do to push to make me get better, so I worked hard and helped myself."

Chester, who was reported to have weighed 295 to begin fall practice, talked about reaching his weight and strength goals during the off-season.

"I'm right around there," said Chester, when asked if he still weighed 295. "I have gotten a lot stronger. All my maxes went up and I've been able to maintain my quickness, which was the biggest thing I was worried about because that is my greatest attribute on the o-line. Weight-wise, I've been pretty good. My weight went up, but you're always going to lose a couple pounds in training camp. But I'm satisfied and I think Coach Wilson is too."

Chester also talked about how he sees the o-line is shaping up.

"I think we are coming together. It's a real team atmosphere with our group. We root for each other and help each other. There's a lot of talent in our group, more than we've ever had from the first guy to the last guy."

Defensive Linemen
Remi Ayodele and Carl Pendleton continued to start with the first team at tackle, while John Williams and C.J. Ah You got the first reps at defensive end.

Returning to practice today was Larry Birdine, and defensive coordinator Brent Venables noticed his emergence immediately.

"You saw him out here making some noise, even if he's not playing very well," said Venables. "At least he's making noise and getting the other guys riled up. He came back and it was noticeable. He does creates some disruption out on the edge."

Redshirt freshman Alan Davis possibly had his best practice of the fall getting pressure and recording one sack. Davis ran with the third team of defensive ends, alongside Alonzo Dotson. C.J. Ah You also recorded a sack on Monday.

And on Thompson's interception over the middle off of the tight end's shoulder pads, it was defensive end Calvin Thibodeaux who applied the pressure and forced the QB to release the ball early.

It was another good day Monday for OU's trio of true freshmen linebackers. Curtis Lofton and Ryan Reynolds built off their solid scrimmage, and Lamont Robinson made some noise in the skelly drills tipping a couple of passes.

Clint Ingram also had another great day in coverage getting his hands on several passes and stripping tight end James Moses after a catch and recovering the fumble.

As for Lofton, Oklahoma linebacker coach Brent Venables talked about his play so far this fall.

"He is more than holding is own. It has not necessarily been a surprise, but he is further along than we could've hoped. It gives us a lot of comfort knowing we have two quality players at the middle linebacker position."

Sophomore Marcus Walker returned to practice and reclaimed his starting corner spot along with Chijioke Onyenegecha. Darien Williams and Lewis Baker started at safety.

The back-up secondary on Monday morning consisted of Eric Bassey and D.J. Wolfe at corner and Tony Cade and Jason Carter at safety. Nic Harris and Reggie Smith also got some second team reps at safety.

Harris, Williams and Jowahn Poteat recorded the only interceptions this morning.

Special Teams
Working on the kick-off coverage team today were: Jason Carter, Eric Bassey, Allen Patrick, Zach Latimer, Russell Dennison, Clint Ingram, Lewis Baker, D.J. Wolfe and Tony Cade.

In our opinion, Cody Freeby had the best day punting the ball, but Mike Knall was right behind him and seemed to heat up the more he kicked.

In a bit of a surprise, Lendy Holmes and Reggie Smith returned punts. Jejuan Rankins generally takes the first reps as the punt returner before Holmes and Smith, but did not work with the returners this morning.


Monday night's practice is set to begin at 6 p.m.

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