The Oklahoma football team got after it in one of most intense practices of spring practice so far under sunny skies and cool temperatures.
The Sooners started off the first half of practice working on their individual position drills, fundamentals, skelly drills and special team drills.
For the last half of practice Oklahoma laced ëem up for a little scrimmage action and on this day, it was the offense that took control from the opening snap.
Although Tommie Harris played little against OUís first team offense in the scrimmage, the Soonersí first team o-line lined up and shoved the ball down the throat of the first team defense for the most part.
OUís starters on the o-line were Vince Carter (C), Kelvin Chaisson (LG), Mike Skinner (RG), Jammal Brown (RT) and Wes Sims (LT).
Nate Hybl took over for Jason White (who practiced but did not scrimmage) on the first team and along with the OL moved the ball down the field on the first team defense of Jonathan Jackson (DE), Juan Prishker (DL), Kory Klein (DL), Jimmy Wilkerson (DE), Lance Mitchell (LB), Teddy Lehman (LB), Antonio Perkins (CB), Andre Woolfolk (CB), Eric Bassey (D), Matt McCoy (FS) and Brandon Everage (SS).
Behind the strong effort of the OL, Quentin Griffin and the first OU offense ran up and down the field. Griffin was juking and jiving defenders on his way to runs of 16, 14, 13 and 12 yards. Griffin looked like the ìQî of two years ago during his sophomore season. He was ultra quick and put a couple of ankle-breaking moves on Jimmy Wilkerson.
ìI am really pleased with the scrimmage today,î said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops. ìIím pleased that the offense ran the football like they wanted to run it. We were physical, we took charge, we were aggressive and these guys got after it. You can tell they like what weíre running.î
One of the things OU offensive line coach Kevin Wilson and Stoops want to bring to the table this year is toughness. And the offensive line showed that today by taking it to a pretty good defense.
ìOne thing I liked about todayís scrimmage is how physical we were. We are going to be a physical football team on both sides of the ball. Iím telling you, teams are going to be surprised about how physical we are up front on offense. We have some guys still learning some positions on defense, but it was still a great scrimmage for the offense.î
Oklahomaís physical play on offense didnít stop with the first team. OUís second unit, led by Brent Rawls, came out and opened some holes for Renaldo Works and Jerad Estus.
OUís top three backs of Griffin, Works and Estus have all had outstanding scrimmages in the new two-back set. Griffin has the moves, Works the power and Estus the speed to give OU a different look with each player.
Works was strong today running the ball and broke off runs of 9, 6, 3 and 11-yards. Works showed his toughness running inside on one play picking up 9-yards on a third-and-one situation.
Hybl and Rawls got most of the snaps in the scrimmage with White sitting out and looked very good at times. The Sooners used a lot of two-back sets and Works, Estus and Griffin all had success running the ball in that formation.
Rawls seemed to get better as the scrimmage progressed and hit redshirt freshmen Chris Chester for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Hybl threw a couple of nice passes over the middle for big plays and hooked up with Curtis Fagan for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Both of OUís quarterbacks found Trent Smith and the Sooner tight ends a bunch over the middle. Chester continues to impress and is making a bid for playing time. The big frosh from California caught four passes for 40 yards.
Oklahomaís punt unit seemed to struggle today protecting the punter. The special team punt drills at the beginning of practice had to be stopped early when Blake Ferguson had his ankle banged up after having a punt blocked.
Brandon Jones, Curtis Fagan and Mark Clayton all rotated returning punts. Jones has the ability to be a gamebreaker, but continues to struggle catching the ball dropping two punts today. OU wants a punt returner that they can rely on to catch the ball and if Jones cannot show he can catch the ball the job will go to Fagan or Clayton. Fagan is very reliable catching the ball and as we saw last year can be very solid returning it.
Fagan is also slated among the Soonersí top two kick returners along with Antwone Savage. Antonio Perkins and Eric Bassey are running second team.
Itís always fun to watch the big boys line up and go one-on-one in the ìinside drillsî, and boy did they go at it today.
When OU lines up for the inside drill you know itís time for Tommie Harris to dominate. OUís sophomore-to-be defensive lineman usually goes virtually untouched when he battles OUís o-line and today was no different then any other with the exception of one player. Harris dominated for the most part, but ran into some trouble going up against Vince Carter. Carter is a bigger, faster and stronger center this spring and is clearly developing into a big-time center. And that is no more evident then when you watch him hold his own against one of the nationís best DLís in Harris.
When Harris and Tennessee transfer Lynn McGruder line up next to each other you get the feeling youíre at a Dallas Cowboys practice rather then Oklahomaís spring practice. McGruder was very tough to handle today during the inside drill.
Redshirt freshmen Kelvin Chaisson lost his left guard spot yesterday to Brad Davis, but was back on the first team and was very impressive in OUís inside drills. Chaisson and McGruder had some great battles today with Chaisson holding his own.
Sophomore Jerod Fields also looked good today in inside drills and is really starting to come into his own under the direction of Wilson.
Jason White was impressive again during skelly drills before the scrimmage. White is slowly putting an end to the thought he doesnít have the strongest arm on the team by throwing several bullet out-routes to Sooner receivers. White was on the money once to Clayton on the left side for an 18-yard gain and then hooked up with Fagan on the right side for 15- and 20-yard completions on out routes. White, who is known as more of a running quarterback, is showing this spring he can really wing it. And the fact that he can throw the out-route with great success gives Oklahoma another option on offense they didn't have last year.
Defensive back Michael Thompson is well on the road to recovery and looks better every day. Thompson is not quite at full speed yet, but is OUís best defensive back when it comes to instincts. Thompson is in a battle for playing time in the secondary and if he continues to improve will make an impact next year.
ìItís coming,î said Thompson, who showed his great instincts on one play when he broke up a curl route intended for Dante Hickson. ìI just have to get a little speed back.î
The Sooners will take off tomorrow and return to practice on Friday in preparation for Saturdayís scrimmage.
Spring Football: OL impresses Stoops in scrimmage
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