Rocky Who? Roy Who?
If Saturday's scrimmage is any indication of what is to come from the Oklahoma defense in 2002, then Sooner fans will quickly forget about departed All-Americans Rocky Calmus and Roy Williams.br>
The Sooners' first team defense picked up where they left off last year in the Cotton Bowl, shutting out the first team offense in the White's 28-0 win over the Red Saturday in Norman.
The White team consisted of the first team defense and the second team offense, while the red OU's first team offense and second team defense.
The Sooners' defensive performance is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that starters Tommie Harris, Derrick Strait and Brandon Everage did not even play against the revamped Sooner offense.
"We have the talent to be just as good, if not better than last year's defense," said junior linebacker Teddy Lehman, who had nine tackles, two pass break-ups against the Red team.
"We have the capability of being quicker, stronger and faster. The main goal is just to get even stronger this summer so we can become a great defense."
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops, who said he expected the defense to be ahead of the offense at this stage because they see them every day in practice, was impressed with Lehman's play this spring.
"I think Teddy Lehman will have no problem moving into Rocky Calmus' position," said Stoops. "He has the speed and quickness for it."
Another defensive player who is expected to pick up the slack left by Calmus is junior college transfer Lance Mitchell. Mitchell was perhaps the star of the game defensively for the Sooners, finishing with a game-high 12 tackles along with one tackle-for-loss and one pass break-up.
Redshirt freshmen Eric Bassey is slotted to replace Roy Williams in the defensive backfield and had his best scrimmage this spring with six tackles and two sacks.
"We are going to be awfully good this year," said Stoops on the Sooners' defense. "When everyone is back and healthy we'll be strong."
"I'm excited about our defensive line. With Jimmy Wilkerson (on the end) and Jonathan Jackson (on the inside) we'll be strong. I think that Kory Klein may be one of the toughest guys on the team and we'll have Dan Cody back as well. This group of guys will only strengthen our team. I think that Andre Woolfolk is one of the best cornerbacks I have ever seen."
Woolfolk and fellow cornerback Antonio Perkins both picked off passes and teamed together on the first team defenses' secondary to hold OU's starting wideouts - Curtis Fagan and Mark Clayton - to just one catch. Fagan caught one pass for six yards, while Clayton was shut out.
One receiver who was not shut out was sophomore Brandon Jones. Jones, who hit a homerun for the Oklahoma baseball team last night against Oral Roberts, was the offensive star of the scrimmage as he abused OU's second team secondary with seven catches for 77 yards.
Jones has quickly developed into the favorite target of redshirt freshmen Brent Rawls, and the duo hooked up twice today for scores.
"We always seem to connect during practice and scrimmages," said Brent Rawls. "He is a great athlete and has nice size and speed to make a good target."
Rawls and Jones paired up for the opening score of the game on the second team offenses' first drive for a 9-yard touchdown pass on a slant at the 9:17 mark of the first quarter. The two found each other again in the third quarter for a beautiful 24-yard strike to give the White a 28-0 lead.
Rawls and senior quarterback Nate Hybl were both impressive in their work against the second team defense, but struggled against the first team offense failing to direct them on a scoring drive while each throwing an interception.
Rawls was 17-of-27 for 210 yards with three touchdown passes and one interception, while Hybl was 22-of-37 for 203 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception. Hybl connected with sophomore Will Peoples for a 42-yard touchdown pass against the second team defense in the second quarter.
"I was pleased with my performance and I feel I have improved over the spring," Rawls continued. "However, there is always room for improvement and I plan to get better this summer."
"It's pretty tough being the guy going against our (No. 1) defense," said Stoops when asked about Hybl and Rawls' inability to lead the first team offense on a scoring drive against the first team defense."
"Both Nate Hybl and Brent Rawls have had a good spring. Jason White is making great progress. He is probably 100 percent right now if we wanted to take the chance of putting him in there."
Oklahoma's first team defense locked up OU's first team running backs for the most part. Renaldo Works was the Red teams' leading rusher with 43 yards on six carries.
Kejuan Jones was the star for the White team on the ground with 91 yards on 10 carries. Jones also took a swing pass from Rawls, juked several defenders and raced to 49-yard gain on his only pass reception. The only thing that stopped the redshirt freshmen on this day was his stomach."
"If Kejuan Jones pushes himself to improve he can be a guy that goes in there and makes a difference," said Stoops Jones, who was only stopped by an apparent spree of vomiting on the 40-yard line after one big run. "He needs to work on his dependability and reliability, but he has an opportunity to be a strong factor."
"I think we had a good, solid spring season. I feel great about the way we have developed this spring," continued Stoops. "It is tough to watch the scrimmages because the guys are ready to go, and when the season rolls around, only 11 can play at one time. I think we have more guys that are ready to play and we have a deeper team than in year's past."
Hybl 22-37, 203 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT Rawls 17-27, 210 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
K. Jones 10-91 Works 6-43 Estus 6-17 Griffin 5-17 Hickson 9-15 Hybl 8-11 Odom 2-7 Rawls 8-(-21).
B. Jones 7-77 (2 TD) Ford 5-31 Peoples 4-82 (1 TD) Hickson 4-48 Savage 3-31 Smith 3-19 Connor 2-22 (1 TD) Griffin 2-13 Donley 2-12 K. Jones 1-49 Fagan 1-6 Chester 1-5 Staley 1-1 Estus 1-(-2).
Mitchell 12 (1 sack, 1 PBU, 1 TFL), Lehman 9 (2 PBU, 1 TFL), Ingram 8, Hilaire 6, Shelby 6, Bassey 6 (2 sacks), Thompson 5, Hager 5 (1 PBU), Stephens 5, Klinck 4, Klein 4 (1 sack, 1 TFL), Poteat 4, Dennison 4, Allen 4, Hammer 4, Perkins 3 (2 PBU, 1 INT, 13-yard return), Woolfolk 3 (1 INT), McGruder 3 (2 TFL), Prisker 3 (1 sack), Pryor 3, Jackson 2, Williams 2, Sublet 2, Wilson 1, Allen 1, Jackson 1, Richardson 1, Hurst 1, Chidi 1, Clayborne 1, Sublet 1.
B. Jones 9-yard reception from Rawls (Ferguson kick).
Connor 17-yard reception from Rawls (Ferguson kick).
Peoples 42-yard reception from Hybl (Ferguson kick).
B. Jones 24-yard reception from Rawls (Ferguson kick).
Defense dominates Red/White game
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