Spring Football: 4/9 Practice Report

Stoops plays scout team quarterback; Fagan leads talented receiver group; Coaches get vocal and much, much more...

Oklahoma returned to practice for the first time since Friday's scrimmage with a two-and-a-half hour workout on Owen Field Tuesday afternoon.

Conditions were nearly perfect today as OU took the field under sunny skies, 70-degree temperatures. A slight smell of paint drifted through the air in Memorial Stadium as workers painted the concrete in the South endzone stands.

The Sooners dressed in full pads, but mainly worked on individual position drills and one-on-one drills for most of the practice before going through a rather uneventful scrimmage the last 30 minutes.

After 15-20 minutes of stretching to begin practice, Bob Stoops sent the offense to the South end and the defense to the North end to work on team drills.

Stoops showed he's not afraid to get into the action as he assumed the role of scout team quarterback in skelly drills against OU's linebackers and defensive backs. Sporting black wind pants, a long-sleeve white t-shirt and sunglasses, Stoops slung the ball all over the field while the first and second team defenses worked on coverages.

The former Iowa defensive back had a better arm then expected, especially on one 25-yard laser over the middle that split two defenders. Stoops also wasn't afraid to rip into his receivers - giving backup linebacker Derrick Hurst, who posed as a tight end on the scout team, an earful on one play when he zigged when he should of zagged.

While Stoops wasn't doing his best Josh Heupel imitation against the defense, Chuck Long's offensive unit worked on their no-huddle offense. The Oklahoma offense ran mostly out of the shotgun during the the no-huddle drill, with a couple of one and two-back sets.

After the offensive and defensive skelly drills were completed, the Sooners broke back into their individual positions for one-on-one drills against the opposition.

One of the best drills of the day was watching the Sooner receivers battle the defensive backs. There is no question Curtis Fagan is developing into OU's best all-around receiver and that showed today. Fagan got open on nearly every route he ran and also was OU's most consistent receiver catching the ball. Fagan pulled down several balls that could have gone either way, but he fought for position and made the tough catch.

One receiver who seemed to play well today and draw praise from new Sooner receiver coach Darrell Wyatt was Ataleo Ford. Ford is a physical specimen and fits the mold of a receiver, physically, moreso then any other Sooner. Ford won most of his battles with the OU defensive backs today and beat Antonio Perkins several times on deep routes, curls and fades.

Ford and Will Peoples are trying to work their way into the rotation as the outside receivers and backed up Fagan and Mark Clayton for most of the day.

Antwone Savage returned to practice today after sitting out Friday's scrimmage and lined up as OU's first team slot receiver.

Jason White is still the Sooners' first team quarterback followed by Nate Hybl and Brent Rawls. White even stepped in at quarterback during the non-tackling scrimmage against the first team defense and seemed to move pretty well when flushed out of the pocket.

There is no doubt Rawls is a gunslinger and you usually find that out as soon as he is under center. Rawls likes to make his presence felt by throwing the deep ball early and often. Rawls wasted no time throwing deep today, but missed more deep hurls then he hit, including one pass picked off by Matt McCoy on the sidelines.

OU's offensive line seems to be set with Vince Carter, Mike Skinner, Jammal Brown, Kelvin Chaisson and Wes Sims manning the first unit. Brad Davis, Jerod Fields, Chike Ozumba, Chris Bush and Jarrod Barclay ran with the second team.

Oklahoma's first team o-line had several battles with the Sooners' defensive unit today and seemed to hold their own for the most part.

Each of OU's starting defensive linemen had their moments getting to the quarterback, but also had their moments of getting pushed, shoved and squashed by tackles Jammal Brown and Wes Sims. Brown and Sims have bulked up considerably this spring and drew praise from offensive line coach Kevin Wilson today for their improved technique.

Tommie Harris did not suit up today, but did work out on the sidelines in shorts. If you think the talented sophomore looks imposing in pads, you should see him in shorts and a t-shirt. Harris already has an NFL body and it was amazing to watch some of the drills he was doing on the sidelines today. It's a wonder that a man that big is that agile and that quick.

With Harris and Dusty Dvoracek being held out of drills, Tennessee transfer Lynn McGruder continues to get more snaps, and more attention from defensive line coach Jackie Shipp. Early in practice Shipp, got into McGruder's facemask and gave him the old, 'If you're going to play football...' speech. That seemed to light a fire under McGruder as he was in backfield a good number of times when battling the o-line the remainder of the practice.

Juan Prishker also stood out today. On a one-on-one drill against center Vince Carter, Prishker completely lined up and bull-rushed Carter, pancaking the sophomore on his way to the red tackling dummy.

And that's not a knock against Carter, who more then held his own against OU's defensive tackles for most of the day. Carter is becoming a complete center this spring making the line calls and has bulked up.

Jackie Shipp was pretty vocal today, but he wasn't going to be outdone by Mike Stoops. Remember when your old coach used to tell you, 'The day I stop yelling at you is the day I've given up on you'? Well, Mike Stoops must have big plans for Michael Thompson, Eric Bassey and Avery Shine. Stoops demands perfection out of his defensive backs and he was obviously looking for that today as he was in faces after virtually every snap, especially Thompson, who is learning the safety spot. At one point Stoops shouted, 'Do you think I don't know what I'm talking about?'

OU's first team defense for most of the day consisted of Jimmy Wilkerson and Jonathan Jackson at defensive end, Juan Prishker and Kory Klein at defensive tackle, Lance Mitchell and Teddy Lehman at linebacker, Antonio Perkins and Andre Woolfolk at the cornerback, Eric Bassey at the dime and Michael Thompson and Matt McCoy at safety. Dan Cody, Lynn McGruder, Russell Dennison and Pasha Jackson also worked in with the first team.

Lance Mitchell is still OU's No. 1 middle linebacker and really looked good today. He really asserted himself in the short-yardage situation scrimmage and was in on basically every play.

And the more and more I watch Teddy Lehman, the more and more he's starting to look like Rocky Calmus. Throw in Clint Ingram, Pasha Jackson and Russell Dennison and the Sooner linebackers flat-out physically imposing.

Midway through practice the Sooners worked on special teams with punter Blake Ferguson returning to practice after getting banged up earlier this spring.

Once Ferguson got warmed up and had a clear path to kick, he was impressive booming several punts 50-plus yards.

The first team punt unit had trouble blocking for Ferguson, as the OU punter had to hold back on several plays to save himself from getting his leg taken off by rushing defenders. Kory Klein has now assumed the first team deep snapper position and he struggled today rolling several grounders back to Ferguson. Adam Panter was the second team deep snapper and got a nice chewing from Bob Stoops on one occasion.

Curtis Fagan, Antonio Perkins and Mark Clayton worked as the punt returners. Fagan and Antwone Savage were the first-team kick-off returners.

The Sooners return to the practice field again tomorrow at 3:45 pm.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories