The general thought after Sunday's 74-play scrimmage is that Oklahoma is set at quarterback for a long, long time.
With junior quarterback Jason White still sidelined and recovering from knee surgery, Nate Hybl and Brent Rawls both rotated with the first and second units and had impressive days while leading the revamped Oklahoma offense against a stout Sooner defense.
Hybl was solid, completing 12-of-18 passes for 200 yards, but it is apparent to anyone who attended Sunday's scrimmage that Rawls is the future.
Rawls drew high praise from several members of the Sooner coaching staff late Sunday afternoon after completing 7-of-15 passes for 120 yards.
For the first time this spring, you get the feeling that the OU coaches get excited when they talk about Rawls. They were impressed with his big-time arm, poise in the pocket and ability to make things happen on the run. With one week to go this spring, Rawls may be finally on his way to tigthening the race and possibly taking over the No. 2 quarterback position from Nate Hybl if he continues to improve.
Rawls numbers didn't match that of Hybl's, but the redshirt freshmen from Shreveport, La. was the only quarterback to lead the Sooners' first team offense on a scoring drive against the first team defense. Rawls led the first team offense on a 75-yard scoring drive in which he finished himself taking an option-keeper 10-yards for the score. The big play in the drive was a beautiful connection on a pump and go route to Curtis Fagan, who beat Andre Woolfolk, for a 35-yard gain.
Rawls' favorite target this spring has been sophomore Brandon Jones. The talented combo hooked up twice for scores in Wednesday's scrimmage and found each other again today. Jones beat walk-on defensive back Larromie Hammmer, caught a slant pass from Rawls, and juked his way into the end zone for a 15-yard score.
Jones has worked mostly with the second team offense this spring, but has shown big-time playmaking ability against the Sooners' second team defense. Jones would find the zone later in the scrimmage once more when Hybl found him streaking past Hammer down the sideline for a 44-yard touchdown pass. Jones had the walk-on defensive back beat by almost seven yards, which was just enough as he had to slow down a step or two to catch the slightly underthrown pass by Hbyl. Both of Jones' ttwo touchdown catches went for a combined 59 yards.
Hybl, who threw two interceptions, also hooked up with Will Peoples for a 49-yard touchdown strike over the middle.
Oklahoma's offense has been stressing a more physicial running game this spring and today's effort was no different gaining 132 yards on 41 carries.
"It was a good day for the running backs," said Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long. "All five of them ran hard. We have a lot of confidence in all of them. Jared Estus continues to have an outstanding spring."
Estus only picked up 13 yards on 3 carries in the scrimmage, but showed his quickness in the short-yardage portion of the scrimmage taking several option tosses from Hybl for big gains around the corner.
Renaldo Works and Donta Hickson led the Sooners with 34 yards rushing while Kejuan Jones and Brian Odom added 23.
Hickson was involved in the "play of the day" when he took a handoff from Hybl, lowered his shoulder and knocked off defensive back Justin Williams' helmet on his way to a 7-yard pickup. Both Hickson and Jones worked in a two-back set on several series.
One Sooner defensive coach commented after the scrimmage that today was the first day he's seen the OU offense fight and attack the defense in their three seasons in Norman.
"Don't be surprised if you see us run it 10 straight plays," said Long. " We have that much confidence in our running game. We feel like we can make yards running the ball."
Vince Carter, Mike Skinner, Wes Sims and Kelvin Chaisson have locked down starting spots on the offensive line, but there is now a battle for the right tackle spot between Jammal Brown and Chike Ozumba. Brown started the spring No. 1 on the depth chart at right tackle, but Ozumba is coming on strong and impressed the OU coaches today while alternating with Brown on the first team.
On defense, the first team unit flexed their muscles for the most part holding the offense to just one scoring drive.
Tommie Harris returned action for the first time in over a week and made his presence felt immediately with two sacks.
Harris' replacement at defensive tackle, Juan Prishker, continues to impress defensive line coach Jackie Shipp. Prishker only made one tackle on Sunday, but drew praise from Shipp for his ability to disrupt things up the middle. Tennessee transfer Lynn McGruder made four tackles and forced one fumble.
The other standout today for Oklahoma's defense was sophomore end Jonathan Jackson. Jackson was a terror rushing off the end and collected two sacks, knocked down one pass and intercepted another. Jackson has six sacks in the last two scrimmages.
Jimmy Wilkerson has locked down the other starting end spot and recorded three tackles and one interception. Dan Cody was held out of today's scrimmage after getting knicked up prior to Wednesday's scrimmage.
Juco transfers Lance Mitchell and Pasha Jackson continue to improve at linebacker and the defensive coaches said they had their best days as Sooners on Sunday.
Mitchell led Oklahoma with five tackles and Jackson added four. Mitchell got a big pat on the back when he stuck an OU tight end over the middle as he attempted to catch the ball. The ball went off the receivers hands and was caught by Jackson for an interception.
The Sooners will practice Monday, Wednesday and Thursday before playing the annual Red/White game next Saturday at 1 p.m.
Nate Hybl 12-18 for 200 yards, (2 TD, 2 INT), Brent Rawls 7-15 for 122 yards, (1 TD, 0 INT).
Renaldo Works 8-34, Donta Hickson 6-34, Kejuan Jones 6-23, Brian Odom 3-23, Jerud Estus 3-13, Quentin Griffin 2-8, Brent Rawls 6-4, Nate Hybl 7-1.
Curtis Fagan 3-47, Lance Donley 3-25, Will Peoples 2-62, Brandon Jones 2-59, Mark Clayton 2-46, Antwone Savage 1-31, Chris Chester 1-10, Brian Odom 1-11, John Connor 1-10, James Moses 1-7, Jerud Estus 1-6, Trent Smith 1-6.
Brandon Shelby 6 (1 sack), Lance Mitchell 5 (1 PBU), Eric Bassey 4, Claude Clayborne 4, Pasha Jackson 4, Lynn McGruder 4 (1 FF), Justin Williams 4 (1 INT), Russell Dennison 3, Tommie Harris 3 (2 sacks), Eric Hilaire 3, Jonathan Jackson 3 (2 sacks, 1 INT), Bobby Klinck 3, Antonio Perkins 3, Michael Thompson 3, Jimmy Wilkerson 3 (1 INT), Clint Ingram 2, Matt McCoy 2, Jowahn Poteat 2, Andre Woolfolk 2, Gayron Allen 1, Richard Allen 1, Kory Klein 1, Juan Prishker 1.
Brandon Jones 15-yard pass from Brent Rawls. (Second team offense vs. Second team defense)
Brandon Jones 44-yard pass from Nate Hybl. (Second team offense vs. Second team defense)
Brent Rawls 10-yard run. (First team offense vs. First team defense)
Will Peoples 49-yard pass from Nate Hybl. (Second team offense vs. Second team defense)
Rawls impressive again in scrimmage
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