J.R.'s Slobber Knocker Report

See inside for the first of WWE Announcer and big-time Sooner fan J.R. Ross' (pictured) first column on OUInsider.com. This week, J.R. gives his views on everything from Mack Brown to Oklahoma's preseason expectations. Look for J.R.'s columns weekly during the upcoming season. (Photo/SoonerPhotos.com)

Greetings from under the black 200X Resistol cowboy hat from a Sooner football fan who is counting the days until the kickoff of the 2006 season, while day-dreaming about this season with some random thoughts and opinions.

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After a highly productive summer under the watchful eye of the incomparable strength and conditioning staff led by coach Jerry Schmidt, the Sooner footballers are getting a few days off to prepare for the start of fall practice. From all accounts that I have heard, this was one of the better summers for the Sooners in a while, which means that these players will be as well prepared to start fall practice as any team in the nation.

Even though the Sooners are very young, there is still plenty of leadership available, which really was demonstrated by the players' efforts this summer. Leadership doesn't come at a certain age automatically and some kids are leaders seemingly from Day 1, while others never achieve leadership status no matter how long they are in a particular program. Leaders are not anointed; many are born with the necessary characteristics to lead a group of men. I think this team has some potentially great on-field leaders, and we all know we are in good shape in the leadership category with the coaching staff lead by the head man.

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I am not one of those who are making an issue of our offensive line concerns. We lost some excellent players last year off the O-line, including Davin Joseph and Chris Chester, who will both earn a good living blocking folks in the NFL.

But the wagon isn't empty in this area. From tackle to tackle, this may be as mentally tough a group as we have had here in a few seasons. That's just one man's opinion, but I have seen enough of these kids to tell you that they will hit you in the mouth — enthusiastically and often. Will they be prone to make mistakes that all young O-lines make? Absolutely. But are they smart enough and will they be "coached up" so those mistakes are limited? I truly believe so.

Being an old school football guy, I believe great teams start with great defenses and offensive lines. Will this offensive line start off great? Maybe not because of their youth, but they could damn sure end up great "Sooner" than later. Point is, don't sit up nights worrying about the O-line play for the Sooners.

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Observing Mack Brown's interaction with the media at the Big 12 media function in K.C., old Mack seems much more relaxed as if he has switched from double lattes to Sanka. Perhaps finally winning a national title at a football school like Texas will have that affect on a man.

The Andy Griffith look-alike said that recruiting has never been better. When, may I ask, was recruiting ever an issue at Texas? Not in my lifetime, I can assure you. And I am no young buck. Bottom line is that the Steers have 16 starters back and will be tough to handle for anyone including Ohio State, when the Buckeyes travel to Austin early in the season.

I think too much is being made of the Texas quarterback situation. Obviously, no one is going to replace Vince Young without missing a beat, which is no revelation. However, Texas has quality young kids in Colt McCoy and Jevan Snead ready to compete for a role, and I am sure these two youngsters have been preparing for most of their athletic lives. Yes, these two QBs are green, but when surrounded by great players they are not as bright green.

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I did an interview with ESPN the other day in Tampa and we discussed Davin Joseph. The bottom line of the conversation was that I said that if I had a son, I would love for him to be like Davin. Joseph is a class act off the field and an animal on it, which is the perfect combination in my opinion.

It looks like Davin will play guard in Tampa, but as we know can play tackle as well. For a kid who started out at OU as a D-lineman — and then started on the O-line as a true freshman, including playing in the Rose Bowl — the former Florida high school heavyweight wrestling champion had a great career in Norman.

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Got a call from Dusty Dvoracek about a week ago when I was in Dallas doing NBC's Saturday Night's Main Event for the WWE, and "Big Dust" was pleased that he had signed with the Chicago Bears for a four-year deal. Head man Lovie Smith is looking forward to having two ex-Sooners starting on the defensive line before the season is over in Dusty, who will wear No. 98, and returning All-Pro Tommie Harris, No. 91.

With Mark Bradley, who is now healthy and who the Bears have high hopes for as a playmaking wide out, and J.D. Runnels, who has a great shot at making the team as a special-teamer with great hands, the Bears may become the "Sooners of the North" and many of us will be watching them on the various NFL packages available for our home viewing pleasure.

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There seems to be some interesting things going on with one of Oklahoma's top high school programs, Tulsa Union, involving coaching changes, etc. Union is a great program that gave us Dominique Franks, who is an amazing and versatile athlete, and happens to be the home of a player I consider to be the best offensive tackle prospect around in Matt Romine.

Everybody wants Matt because he is a quality human being, an excellent student and beats people up as a dominating offensive tackle. I hope OU gets Matt, as he could be a homegrown Sooner who makes his mark at Owen Field, and then goes on to represent our state and our OU in the NFL.

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If Gerald McCoy gets assigned No. 93 it may be déjà vu all over again, as that was the amazing LeRoy Selmon's number for the Sooners. Even though the Sooners lost Dusty Dvoracek last year to the NFL, there is ample talent along the defensive line returning including redshirt freshman DeMarcus Granger, who is down from around 350 to less than 300 pounds.

The returning players for coach Jackie Shipp, who was tougher than a Waffle House steak in his day, are four-deep. So where does that leave the highly recruited No. 1 high school defensive lineman in America, young Mr. McCoy? Is McCoy an automatic redshirt? Highly unlikely would be my suggestion.

It's a nice problem to have, but McCoy is special and may be too special to not get him on the field this season. You will love Gerald's character as he was raised by wonderful parents who instilled character and a great work ethic in this man-child.

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Positive-thinking Dan Hawkins will make a positive and immediate difference in Boulder with the Buffs. Colorado comes to Norman on Oct. 21 and don't overlook this game as being an automatic win against an allegedly weak North Division team.

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Preseason rakings are great for folks like us who can't get enough football even when it isn't football season, but let's not get to carried away about the Sooners' preseason No. 1 ranking that have appeared in many publications.

Let's not start planning a parade or a chicken dinner for the winners just yet. The only ranking that matters will be out in early January sometime after the 8th. Until then, let's focus on one thing and that is on Stoops' team beating UAB on Sept. 2.

Right now, that is all that matters.

*** In addition to my new relationship with OUInsider.com, we are really excited about not only Sooner Football in 2006 but also a couple of other ventures I am involved in with other OU fans, including Hal and Tanner Smith and our "Heisman" smoker Tim Smith.

We are setting up jrsbarbq.com to sell sauces including our two BBQ Sauces that are the authentic items made in Oklahoma and are at the National Championship level and Chipolte Ketchup along with Jalapeño Honey Mustard. I hope you will give them a try and let us know what you think.

Our website will also feature my blog, photo gallery, how we can cater your event, merchandise and much more. Our "J.R.'s BBQ" trailer will be operating on football game days at the north end of the stadium. I hope you will drop by and say hello and enjoy the best BBQ around.

We have the privilege of feeding the Sooner players and coaches on many occasions throughout the year and are proud of our relationship with the team and consider ourselves the "Official BBQ of OU Football".

Plus, we are selling a new line of "Sooner Slobber-Knocker" merchandise that all Sooner fans hopefully want to check out. We think these "Slobber-Knocker" items describe this year's Sooner squad perfectly. Check out slobber-knocker.com.

BOOMER SOONER!

J.R.


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