Thursday's Practice Report (4/6)

See inside for news and notes from Thursday's practice, inlcuding quotes from Bob Stoops.

The Oklahoma football team went through their final tune-up before Saturday's annual Red/White game in helmets, shorts and shoulder pads Thursday in Norman.

The Sooners also battled winds of up to 45 miles per hour, but that didn't change OU head coach Bob Stoops' practice plans.

"Everybody does," said Stoops when asked who the weather effects the most. "That's OK, It was good work.

"It was a good practice though. We had a couple of games last year, though it's rare in the fall, with Nebraska and the Texas Tech games that were both similar to this, so it's good to get some work in it. I told the kickers to get as many kicks as they can to see what they can do and get a little practice working with it."

Stoops also talked about the spring game and the exposure the program will get with it being nationally televised on ESPN.

"It's always good for all these young players and recruits and people," Stoops said. "You get a chance to show your program and what it's like. They will probably have some sideline shots and they'll have us miked up a little bit. Though we compete hard we usually have a good time, it's always positive to definitely get that kind of exposure."

So how did it come about to have the spring game on ESPN?

"They contacted us and we were interested. ESPN has been really good to us and are great to work with. They said here is the time scheduled they were looking for and fortunately it fit us perfectly.

"In the end, we will probably get around 70 snaps. It's what we got in our last scrimmage and it works for their timing. Fortunately, it worked out for what both of us were looking for."

Stoops said that the scrimmage will be formatted like it is every year with a four quarters and the offense wearing red and defense wearing white. However, Stoops says the timing of how the clock runs in each quarter may change somewhat to help fit ESPN's broadcast.

"Well, the timing will be little different. In the end, the only reason we stop it (clock) or start it is that we end up getting about the same amount of snaps that we want, which will be around 70. I think there will be a 20 minute rolling clock in the second half, which will probably time out to be pretty close to what we want."

Below are some offensive and defensive notes from Thursday's workout.

Offense

With the wind, it was somewhat of a tough day for the quarterbacks as each threw an interception. The Sooners worked on a lot of quick running plays out of the shotgun, as well as the short passing game.

It was another good day for Malcolm Kelly, who managed to catch everything in sight. Juaquin Iglesias did a nice job of getting open, and Fred Strong and Quentin Chaney also made several nice catches. Paul Thompson also made a nice 25-yard catch on a post pass from Rhett Bomar.

As for the offensive line, Brian Simmons appears to be in a battle with Sherrone Moore for one of the guard spots. It will be interesting to see who draws the start on Saturday.

Speaking of the line, it's going to be a long day for them during Saturday's Red/White game with only seven healthy players.

"It's going to be the same like we always do," Stoops aid. "We just won't have as many people to rotate out. So when the 2s are out there there will be some 1s mixed in. The defense will change 1s and 2s and the o-line will just rotate their seven guys. It's really not that tough or difficult."

Wide receiver coach Kevin Sumlin talked about what he'll be looking for out of his receivers on Saturday.

"It's important for us to see in any scrimmage situation how guys adjust and play and understand what third down is really about. Instead of just practicing plays and who's going to make those plays for us, we are going to try to establish the guys we can count on in situations.

"We've had a couple of guys who have played who we know can make plays for us. They have worked and done those things but we have a bunch of guys who haven't played and those guys who haven't played need to demonstrate the ability to make plays in a game type situation in front of crowds."

Defense

As for the defense, it was another good day for redshirt freshman DeMarcus Granger. Granger has a lot of great battles with Duke Robinson at guard, but it's obvious that the big cat is just too quick and too strong to handle for the linemen when it's all said and done on most days.

In addition to Granger, Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman continue to impress and please Jackie Shipp. Bennett, who is up to 410 pounds on his bench press, is very highly thought of by Shipp and looked great on one play stuffing Bomar on a option keep.

It was a good day for the linebackers in pass coverage. OU's offense worked a lot on their short routes and the linebackers looked to be there on just about every play ready to take their shots. Curtis Lofton picked off a deflected pass and Demarrio Pleasant was also impressive in coverage, while fellow strongside linebacker Ryan Reynolds looked great and seems to have a knack for blitzing.

As for the competition at safety, Nic Harris seemed to split the reps at free safety last night with Darien Williams. But today Williams got most of the reps with the first unit, although Harris did get some reps with the first team.

At corner, it was another good day for Reggie Smith, who picked off a pass for the second straight practice.

One funny note to conclude practice...Bob Stoops decided to have a little fun with Administrative Coordinator and longtime friend Matt McMillen. As McMillen was standing under the goal post talking with a group of people near the end of the workout, Stoops decided to have his quarterbacks, plus Cale Gundy, each launch a pass in his direction, which sent everyone, including McMillen scrambling.

"We thought on that last play we would bomb the committee back there. We can only imagine what they were talking about. They were all ducking, so they couldn't catch the football."

***

In other news, suspended punter Cody Freeby has been kicked off the team for good.

Freeby was suspended last week, but since that time he has had a total disregard for the rules of the suspension and dealing with the punishment, and thus was booted off the team. This leaves the Sooners with Mike Knall as the only legitimate punter. However, place kicker Garrett Hartley is also kicking more work as a punter.

The Sooners will invite a couple of walk-on punters this summer to come in and compete for the job with Knall and Hartley.


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