Wednesday's Practice Report (3/22)

See inside for news and notes from Wednesday's practice, inlcuding quotes from Bob Stoops, Bobby Jack Wright, Sherrone Moore and Josh Heupel. Also, sophomore defensive back Reggie Smith (pictured above) talks about his move to cornerback.

Offense

The first unit on the offensive line today was Chad Roark at center, Sherrone Moore at RG, Branndon Braxton at RT Duke Robinson at LG, and Chris Messner at LT. Cameron Schacht alternated inside at guard with Ben Barresi.

Messner does a great job on just about everybody. He doesn't get beat very often. Braxton more than holds his own. If he's up against C.J. Ah You and Larry Birdine, it's a 50-50 proposition. But the offensive guys are at an incredible disadvantage in that drill. Duke Robinson has become a formidable competitor. The best battle today was DeMarcus Granger and Duke inside. Those two guys, they just hammered each other. I don't really know how had the edge. Granger didn't necessarily get to the quarterback, but he got penetration.

For Sherrone Moore, he's having to learn a lot of things in a hurry after coming in from Butler County Community College.

"The biggest adjustment mentally and physically, is especially in the classroom. It's a lot harder. People don't look at that a lot. That is a big adjustment for me and I think for most junior college players. Keep it up in the classroom and you'll be better on the field, because you're not thinking of the classroom. You'll play better. The game itself is at a different speed. Everybody thinks quicker, moves quicker, there are better athletes. It's a much faster pace."

They alternated fullbacks for the most part but Matt Clapp ran with the first unit.

At the wide receiver spots, Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias were the starters and Manuel Johnson came in when they went to the three wide set. Of course, Adrian Peterson and Allen Patrick were at tailback. And, yes, I'm going to throw in my traditional AD looks great.

Iglesias and Kelly ran great patterns on out routes and Rhett Bomar hit them right in the hands. Joey Halzle does a good job for the most part, too.

Quentin Chaney got a lot of playing time at wide receiver today as a backup and continued to look good. Jermaine Hardison, got a lot of work, even getting some time with the first team. He has had a pretty good first two days, and with a new coach out running the offense in Kevin Wilson, everybody's got a clean slate. It was a better day for Eric Huggins, who caught a couple of balls on slants and is a very talented guy.

I can tell that Joe Jon Finley is going to be really good running the seam route. They throw the ball to him a lot on that route. Halzle threw a pretty good seam route today and Rhett just nailed it. I thought it was a good day for him. Rhett overthrew a couple of passes, which is not hard to do when you're throwing a 100 of them. They threw the ball to Brody Eldridge for the first time. He dropped one, made a couple of catches.

New Sooner quarterback coach Josh Heupel talked about Bomar after today's workout.

"I've been really impressed so far. He continues to impress on things and have a sense of urgency. He needs to do a lot better than he did last year and he understands that if we are going to be a championship team."

As far as transfer Joey Halzle, Heupel has been impressed with his attitude coming in.

"He's a guy that picks things up quickly. He has a natural feel for game and is learning all the idiosyncrasies in our offense. He has a great attitude, is constantly working out and is pushing and trying to get better. He came here with the understanding that the best player will play. The best player will get the job and he's here to compete for the job."

Reggie Smith and Lendy Holmes were lined up as the punt returners today and caught ball well, especially Smith.

Defense

On defense, C.J. Ah You and Larry Birdine ran with the first unit. Calvin Thibodeaux was absent today. Alonzo Dotson and Alan Davis were with the second unit. At defensive tackle, Steven Coleman and Cory Bennett worked with the first unit. DeMarcus Granger and Billy Blackard were on the second unit, with Brian Simmons alternating some on that unit. Simmons and Cordero Moore were the third unit. That was a slight change from Monday, when Simmons ran with the second group and Granger sometimes ran with the first unit.

Ryan Reynolds was on the first unit at strongside linebacker along with Curtis Lofton and Rufus Alexander. Ian Pleasant and Demarrio Pleasant got reps with the second team at the strong side. Reggie Smith and D.J. Wolfe were the starting corners, with Brett Bowers and Lendy Holmes as backup corners. Darien Williams and Jason Cater were the first unit safeties, with Nic Harris and Keenan Clayton backing them. Quinton Carter also got reps as a backup at safety after not being noticed on Tuesday.

It was a great day for the secondary. They were very active, with Smith and Wolfe leading the way. They made a number of plays and got their hands on a lot of footballs. Wolfe and Williams had interceptions, along with linebacker Reynolds, and Reggie Smith recorded two or three deflections. Williams' interception came on a deflection after the wide receiver didn't haul in a pass that should have been caught and Williams was there to make the pickoff.

Secondary coach Bobby Jack Wright was pleased with what he saw from his unit today.

"Yeah, we had a very good day today. They were flying around, flying to the football", Wright said. "I like the fact that they are athletic enough to catch the football. You can't get an interception if you don't catch the football."

"Reggie looks like a natural corner. He breaks on the football, breaks towards the ball and makes interceptions. D.J. has improved so much since the first day we moved him over there, it's like night and day. Right now have two really good corners"

"I like what we have going at safety. Jason Carter is not the most athletic guy on our team, but he's intelligent, has knowledge of the defense and that allows him to play strong safety and play it well. Darien Williams continues to improve every day. They know they have talented young guys behind them who are someday going to be great players."

Larry Birdine is having a great camp so far. They never really block him on the edge, it doesn't matter who is on him.

Ryan Reynolds looks like he's going to be a great blitzer. Every time he blitzed today, he got through. They're not allowing them to tackle the quarterback, but he's flying in there. On Reynolds' interception, he looked like a wide receiver. He had to run and reach out to make the catch. It didn't hit him in the chest. He made a wide receiver type catch.

Alonzo Dotson would have had a sack today. Curtis Lofton is battling and looks good in the middle. You can tell he's just absorbed in everything. Curtis was one of the last guys to leave today. So was Duke Robinson and Sherrone Moore. Those guys were there just doing extra work and work and work.

Coach Bob Stoops on practice today:

"It was good. Much better than yesterday. Maybe that's to be expected. It's still not where we want it but for the most part, we're happy with it. Guys are retaining a lot of it and today they were just more comfortable with it."

Stoops on whether coaches are throwing a lot at the players early.

"That's just how we do it here. We believe in throwing everything that we have at them and working on it. We don't believe you go into spring and work on a quarter of the offense or half of the offense or a couple of things, or work on a limited package. We don't believe in that. I'm not saying we're right and they're wrong, or they're right and we're wrong. It's just how we do it. We throw everything at ‘em and tell them to go learn it, tell ‘em to work with it. I think this is the best way for us to get ready for the season."

"We are so multiple on both offense and defense, I just think it's the best way to be multiple here in the spring. Because if we're multiple in the spring, we're going to be multiple in two-a-days and it just keeps carrying over. That way you're always developing your offense and defense."

Stoops on the secondary

"They were very impressive. I think if Reggie and D.J. continue to work, they can be two of the better corners in the country. Now, they have to continue to work but they've got a chance to be great."

Stoops on whether Reggie Smith will stay at corner.

"Well, that all depends. He looks great at corner. He may be so good at corner, that's where he plays. Last year, we played him at safety because we had a need a safety. I think we're in better shape at safety this year, that if we don't have injuries there, we could play him at corner. But we'll see. ‘

Stoops on whether he can tell how good a football team is from spring practice?

"Yeah, I can tell quite a bit about a team in the spring because I'm looking at it differently than maybe you guys are from afar. Not that you don't know what you're looking at. But when I'm looking at a player, I may already know that he's a year away. So while you're looking at him and saying ‘Man, he looks a little rough. He doesn't look like he's ready'. Well, I'm not counting on him for this year anyway. In my mind, I'm looking at him for two years down the road or a year down the road and not for this season. And I'm not disturbed by how he's playing. So when I concentrate on the 11 guys who I think are going to play on offense or defense, or let's say we've got 15 we're considering or whatever, I have a pretty good idea how we're going to play in the fall and I like what I see."

Reggie Smith on playing corner.

"Growing up, my dad used to make me play all positions. I played all the positions I could. A whole bunch of different stuff. When something like this happens, I would be able to play, come in and do what I need to do."

Smith on if he a natural cover guy?

"I guess you could say that. In high school, I was just out there roaming quite a bit, but sometimes I would cover the other team's best receiver, especially if it was a tight situation. Here, we play a lot of man anyway. So I came down from strong safety, taking the slot a lot. It's a different deal out here at corner, but I'm just trying to make it work, trying to make this defense better. Sometimes you think about the great receivers that you cover. You try not to because you've got to compete against them. You've got to play your game and trust your abilities. Just do what you can to make the team better."

Smith on if he likes playing corner

"I played safety all of last year. I played a little corner at the beginning. If it works better this way for the team, if it helps out the team, I won't mind the move. We've got some young safeties coming up. It would be fine with me. As long as I'm on the field, I don't care where I play.

Bobby Jack Wright on the move of Smith to corner

‘What's happened is that Marcus (Walker) is not here in the spring, Brian Jackson is not here, so it limits us numbers wise at the corner position, number one. You get added depth at corner with a good quality player; you should be able to get your four best players on the field. It has turned out to be a pretty logical move. It's a situation where a guy is moving to corner who is a dang good player. It's not like we're moving him from safety to corner and he's not going to be as productive. He's probably going to be as productive or more so. It may be a plus for him position wise and be a plus for us as a team. He may eventually prove to be a better corner than a safety. And like I said, the depth we have at safety allows us the luxury of being able to do that."


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