Wednesday's Practice Report (3/29)

Bob Stoops, Rhett Bomar, Joe Jon Finley, Rufus Alexander and Duke Robinson talk about Wednesday's practice.

The first half of Wednesday's practice was indoors and closed to the public and media, but the Sooners went outside for a short scrimmage toward the end of the workout.

"I always like to scrimmage out here because I don't like the fake stuff. I always like to scrimmage on the real grass," said OU head coach Bob Stoops.

"They're getting after it. We had a 20 to 30 play scrimmage and we wanted to get some short-yardage and goal-line done and it worked out well. I always feel fortunate that no one was hurt and guys got at it pretty good."

Once again, practice was closed to the media until the final hour, so below is a more condensed update than usual on the highlights from today's practice.

Quarterback

It was a very good day for juco transfer Joey Halzle. Halzle threw two touchdown passes in the short scrimmage, while Bomar threw one interception.

Halzle hooked up on TD passes to Joe Jon Finley and Matt Clapp. His pass to Finley was on first and 10 in the red zone drill from the 20-yard line, while he hit Clapp out of the backfield on a 2nd and 1 play during the goal-line portion of the scrimmage.

Bomar's interception came during the goal-line, when he rolled out and threw an ill-advised pass when he should've held onto the ball on a 3rd and 5 play.

However, Bomar did connect on a couple of nice plays to Malcolm Kelly for 22 yards and Jermaine Hardison for 13. He also had one nice play when he went through his reads and found Allen Patrick on a flare route for an 8-yard gain.

As for Halzle, Stoops talked about his progress again after practice.

"Joey's doing awesome. I keep saying that. You guys have watched. I don't know if he's had a bad day. In fact, he hasn't. He did really well out here again today.

"He is a guy that just has a great knack and a great feel for the game. As much as anything, he has a talented arm but he has a good feel for the game and what to do with the ball. And he has good poise about him."

However, Halzle did fumble one center exchange and threw one interception on Wednesday.

Running Back/Fullbacks

Adrian Peterson didn't don the blue (non-contact) jersey during today's short scrimmage, but it was Allen Patrick that got most of the tough carries anyway.

On one play during the goal-line drill, Patrick was stuffed running up the middle by safety Quentin Carter on was probably the hit of the day, but he is such a great athlete that even though he got completely knocked back, he was able to spin out and keep running, but the play was blown dead. On the next play, however, Patrick scored on a tough run up the gut.

Peterson did impress when he got the chance, ripping off runs of 8, 6 and 14 on one series. And he would've possibly took one to the house in between the tackle and guard on another play even though he was not allowed to be tackled.

Patrick also made a couple of nice catches out of the backfield, as did fullback Matt Clapp who was the recipient of a touchdown pass from Halzle.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The starting receivers for today's scrimmage were Malcolm Kelly, Paul Thompson and Juaquin Iglesias. They were backed up by Quenton Chaney, Fred Strong and Manuel Johnson. Jermaine Hardison and Eric Huggins also worked in with the second unit.

Catching the ball, it was nice day for Kelly, Hardison, Strong and tight end Joe Jon Finley, who had one touchdown catch and continues to impress.

"He has a chance to be a great weapon," said Stoops. "Joe Jon is already a good receiver. Now he has the maturity and some experience, and we hope that he can be a bigger factor for us in our passing game.

Bomar is also impressed with Finley's game.

"Joe Jon is a great athlete," Bomar said. "You should see him when we're doing our testing. The guy can run and is very quick. He can play. He's up around 250 and everybody says he can't block, but I think he does just fine. I think now from that aspect, he's as big as Bubba (Moses) was last year. He's gotten a lot thicker since he's been here. I'm excited about that because he's a big target at 6-6."

"It helps a lot more. Getting off the line, especially against the DBs and linebackers," said Finley on his added size.

Finley, who also caught a tight end screen pass for a nice gain on Wednesday, says he's worked hard to become a better target in the red zone.

"In the red zone, there's a lot of holes in the middle of the defense," Finley said. "I'm just trying hard to figure out where they are and the different type of coverages that they use. I just need to figure out where I need to be against each coverage on different plays. I'm walking to the line and I'm reading the coverages trying to find where the holes are, and if I need to be in the hole or run a route to create a hole for Malcolm or Juaquin."

Finley is also excited about the fact that he may get more balls thrown his way now that his position coach is calling the plays.

"We're going to get a lot more attention now because coach Wilson is our coach now. He's going to take care of us," Finley said smiling.

Offensive Line

OU's first unit on the line was the same today as it has been, with Chris Messner and Branndon Braxton at tackle, Sherrone Moore and Duke Robinson at guard and Chad Roark at center.

By now, you've all seen the impressive photos of Robinson and his new physique this spring, and the sophomore's newfound look is also helping his confidence in his effort to win a spot on the line.

"There is competition, but I'm going to lock down mine. I'm going to be playing left guard," said an emphatic Robinson after Wednesday's workout. "What we need to do is come together as a line and put the rest of the pieces together.

"But I'm going to be one of the top five guys. I'm in better shape. I don't even feel like the same player. I can watch myself on film and I'm doing things with quickness and speed that I've never done before."

As for their performance in today's scrimmage, it was up and down. The line did give up several sacks, but they also cleared the way for several nice runs. Of note, Messner, Robinson, Braxton and backup Brian Simmons caught our eye today clearing some nice holes for big gains.

Defensive Line

C.J. Ah You and Larry Birdine started out at defensive end, with Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman starting at defensive tackle during the scrimmage. Calvin Thibodeaux also worked in with Ah You and Birdine with the first unit at defensive end.

Cory Bennett was a force again inside with two sacks, while Coleman and Billy Blackard also made some noise stuffing the middle. And redshirt freshman DeMarcus Granger showed well today, making a couple of tackles for loss, one of which he stuffed Patrick on a shotgun draw play in the backfield.

Calvin Thibodeaux batted down a pass on one play.

Linebackers/Seconary

Demarrio Pleasant has his academics in order and was back at practice today, but he also pulled a major no-no when he tried to tackle Adrian Peterson on one play.

Lewis Baker had a great series today when he made a diving effort to deflect and save a touchdown pass. He also stuffed Patrick for a nice tackle during the goal-line portion of the scrimmage.

Rufus Alexander had the play of the day for the linebackers when he jumped a screen pass and returned it for a 40-yard touchdown.

After practice, the senior from Louisiana talked about how OU's defense will improve by leaps and bounds because of the experience factor.

"I think we can do a lot of things, especially with 'Bird' back and Calvin Thibodeaux also getting another year," Alexander said. "He has another year and C.J. has another year of experience. We can do a lot of things.

Alexander also said the experience will help the secondary.

"We can disguise a lot of things because Darien Williams has a year under his belt. We can be a lot better than what we did last year," Alexander said.

"I think with more practice we will get better at blitzing. Darien has already got a whole lot better than he was last year. Jason Carter is a real good blitzer and he's playing more now. It's not really personnel, it's just familiarizing yourself with what the offense is doing and how they are trying to attack and counter your blitz. All our guys are talented enough if they know how to beat a block."

The starters in the secondary remained the same as on Monday. Reggie Smith and D.J. Wolfe were at corner and Darien Williams and Jason Carter played safety.

True freshman safety Quinton Carter had the hit of the day when he stuffed Allen Patrick in his tracks on a goal-line stand, knocked him straight back and the play was blown dead. He also recorded a sack.

Special Teams

Garrett Hartley looked good kicking field goals, hitting all but one attempt from the right hash mark on the 27-yard line. Hartley hit attempts from 27 (twice), 37 (three times) and 47 (three times).

The Sooners will take Thursday off before returning to the practice field again on Friday.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories