Depth still a question for OU's receivers

Oklahoma receiver coach Kevin Sumlin talks about his group heading into Saturday's opener against UAB.

All training camp and two-a-days, the OU wide receiver corps has been a work-in-progress. The unit possesses star power, but they needed to find more depth.

As Oklahoma approaches the opening game against UAB, has more depth emerged or are the Sooners still looking for players to step up. To find out the state of the OU wide receivers, we turn to OU wide receiver coach Kevin Sumlin.

JH: How is your wide receiver corps shaping up for the season?

KS: I think pretty well In Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias, you have two outstanding players who have had great camps. Manuel Johnson has been banged up with an ankle, but when he has been in there it is clear that he is an improved player. We just need to get him healthy.

With that said, we are going to have to spell some guys somehow and some of our back-ups are going to come in. Our two young freshmen, and then Fred Strong, will play and there is going to be some time for Reggie Smith to get in our huddle as well. It is not going to be an every down deal, but we are going to try to sprinkle him in there for 10 to 15 plays Saturday.

JH: When you come out in three wide-receivers for the first time on Saturday, who will the three receivers be?

KS: Who is it going to be on Saturday? It is going to be Malcolm Kelly, Juaquin Iglesias and Fred Strong.

JH: So Fred has had a pretty good camp, right?

KS: He has come on and demonstrated that he can be pretty consistent. He is doing what we ask him to do and he has had a pretty good spring. He had a pretty good two-a-days and battled through some things, but he has continued to compete. And guys at that position behind him are pushing too. So on Saturday, I think the first time that we run on the field with three wide receivers you will Fred as the third receiver.

JH: All camp you have stated that the freshmen are coming on, so did they finally reach the point that you trust them on the field Saturday?

KS: You never know with freshmen — if they have made it or not until the game.

JH: OK, have they made it to the point that you will put them in there?

KS: There are some freshmen that get into the game and it doesn't matter what has happened. Nobody cares what has happened during practice. We are going to give them an opportunity on Saturday to see what is happening.

They have demonstrated, up to this point, that they will compete. They are athletic enough and that they know what they are doing. If they are playing hard those two guys will get a shot at it Saturday too.

JH: Was this a successful camp in that you developed the depth you needed?

KS: I don't know! You wanted all the upperclassmen guys to come on and provide that. Like any other coach, you would rather like experience. Some of our guys who have been here for a couple of years, for whatever reason, got beat out in that situation. It has been a successful camp in that I think with the move of Paul (Thompson) the first day and guys filling the void, and then our freshmen coming in and really pushing some of the upper-class guys and in some respects earning some spots from some upper-class guys, I think it has been a real competitive two-a-days.

JH: Did Manuel Johnson show you enough in the last couple of days, coming off that ankle injury, that he is ready to play on Saturday?

KS: I don't know! He hasn't practiced in a while, so I don't know if he will play Saturday. It is one of those things where a guy hasn't gone very much in the last couple of weeks and it is not that easy to come back out there, run around and do those kinds of things. That is kind of a wait-and-see deal.

JH: How about your match-up with the UAB secondary?

KS: We have watched a lot of tape. They obviously have a new defensive coordinator and we have to prepare for everything. They have showed blitzes, they have showed coverage, they have showed man-to-man and press. We are preparing for everything, because with a new D-Coordinator who knows what they are going to run?

Are they are going to come in here and press us from the first snap? Or are they going to play coverage and just mix it up and blitz? We are preparing for all of it. And based on what we see on tape they are athletic. They have the guys who can run and cover people. They can be physical at times so it will be a good test for us.

JH: With your contacts, surely you could find out information about the UAB new D-Coordinator?

KS: It is a little bit different. This is coach (Cale) Gundy's old stomping grounds. Their strength is going to be their good ends that played last year, and their linebackers are good players. Since they are replacing some guys in the secondary, it will be real interesting to see how they line up.

The (Kevin) Sanders kid played real well last year and he is one of their best players and a good corner. Tthe other guys back there are kind of rotating in and are new guys. We are just preparing for everything and we are going to try to execute what we do.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories