Stoops pleased with scrimmage

Oklahoma running back Kejuan Jones breaks through the line while defensive back Michael Thompson (19) closes in during Wednesday's scrimmage in Norman. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

It's that time of year again.

The Oklahoma football team returned to live action for their first major scrimmage of the 2002 season in front of over seven thousand Wednesday night on Owen Field.

"I am very pleased," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops after Wednesday's 92-play workout.

"But it is always hard being the head coach. You always want to see both sides doing well. However, I am very pleased and there are a lot of positives that we can take from the scrimmage."

"We had very few penalties and when I think about the last three years when we came out here for our first scrimmage, we had about fifty of them, so we are greatly improved in this area."

After missing the last half of the season a year ago with an injured knee, junior quarterback Jason White took every snap with the first team offense.

"It doesn't matter what unit I am working with," said White on working only with the first team.

"I just look at it as getting out there and getting reps, which all of us need. I could be working with the second unit and it would all be the same to me."

White, who completed 13-of-24 passes for 235 yards, helped the Sooners' first team offense move the ball against one of the best defenses in the nation before eventually settling for field goal attempts.

"I felt that I made a lot of mistakes, but they are mistakes that are easily corrected," said White.

"It bugs the whole offense that we had to settle for field goals and not score touchdowns. That is one thing that we have to work on. we have to get the ball in the endzone."

On the first play from scrimmage in the first team offenses' first full drive against the first team defense, White threw a perfect strike over the middle to Trent Smith for a 64-yard pass play.

"We came right out of the shoot swinging and hit that big play to Trent," said White.

"That play was just there and we took advantage of it with a great player on the receiving end. All I had to do was throw it up, because you know that Trent is going to go out and get it."

White also said his knee felt good and was not a factor in his play.

"I don't think about my knee at all, except when I look down at this brace," said White.

"I hope to take this brace off soon, because I don't need it anymore. My knee doesn't bother me at all and I had no trouble with it at all. As long as it doesn't swell up over night I think it is going to be fine."

Senior quarterback Nate Hybl was also impressive working with the second team offense. Hybl was solid once again completing 8-of-13 passes for 127 yards including three touchdowns.

Hybl hooked up with Will Peoples for a 7-yard strike and completed 20-yard touchdown passes true freshmen Travis Wilson and JeJuan Rankins.

"I am real happy with the quarterback play," said Stoops. "I thought the guys threw the deep ball really well and I thought Jason (White) and Nate (Hybl) threw the ball really well tonight.

"Brent (Rawls) looked sharp in a lot of instances, but threw a few through careless balls, which is something, for a young guy, that he learns something from and continue to improve on. Brent will continue to get better. Again, our two main guys were awfully sharp and Brent looked good at times as well."

Rawls threw three interceptions and completed only 2-of-7 passes for 24 yards. And after his third interception, he tried to make a tackle on the sideline and tore ligaments on the thumb on his throwing hand. The early diagnosis has Rawls out for 3-6 weeks.

Much of the focus on tonight's scrimmage was on the much anticipated improvement of Oklahoma's running game under new line coach Kevin Wilson.

Overall, the Sooners were held in check by the defense averaging 2.1 yards per carry on 58 attempts.

But Stoops was still pleased with the effort.

"I like the fact the offense was competing and going after it more," said Stoops.

"The one's we missed were close, but we were attacking and going for it and that is what we want to do in the passing game. I like our running game and the attitude and the toughness in the way they played. That is what we were hoping for offensively."

Quentin Griffin and Renaldo Works got the bulk of the carries against the first team defense and ran for 15- and 24-yards respectively. Each player carried the ball nine times each.

Redshirt freshmen KeJuan Jones led the Oklahoma running backs with 71 yards on 17 carries against the second team defense.

Oklahoma's starting offensive line to start the scrimmage consisted of Wes Sims, Brad Davis, Vince Carter, Mike Skinner and Jammal Brown. Davis also rotated with Jerod Fields and Kelvin Chaisson on the first unit.

"I thought we had some success tonight, and in many ways had a good night," said Senior Nate Hybl on the offenses performance. "I thought we ran the ball better tonight, which is something that Coach (Chuck) Long and Coach (Kevin) Wilson have been harping on."

"You also saw us push the ball downfield vertically tonight. Our first play, we hit a seam route right down the middle and we are off and running. We had to settle for a field goal on that drive, but that was a big play indicative of what we want to do on offense."

On the defensive side of the ball, the Sooners first unit showed signs of being the dominating squad they were a year ago.

Despite giving up the big pass play from White to Smith on the first play from scrimmage, the Sooner secondary was pretty impressive picking off one pass and holding the first team offense to field goals.

Senior cornerback Andre Woolfolk seemed to have his man covered most of the night and had a game-high four pass deflections to go with six tackles.

Derrick Strait picked off Jason White in the red zone portion of the scrimmage and recorded four tackles.

Eric Bassey, who has the unenviable task of replacing Roy Williams in the Sooners' dime package, played very well four tackles and one blocked kick.

True freshmen Michael Hawkins had his good and bad moments in his first live action as a Sooner. Hawkins picked off two passes from Brent Rawls and posted returns of 77- and 24-yards.

Oklahoma's defensive line is one of the best in the country and were dominant once again, despite not having Dusty Dvoracek and Lynn McGruder, who were held out of the scrimmage while nursing minor injuries.

Tommie Harris wreaked havoc in the offensive backfield for most of the night. Harris finished with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Jackson, who is in a fierce battle with Dan Cody, may have kept his stronghold on the other starting defensive end spot alongside Jimmy Wilkerson for another day. Jackson matched Harris' 1.5 sacks and recorded two tackles.

Redshirt freshmen Clint Ingram led the defense with 15 tackles, mostly against the second team offense.

"Defensively, we were not near what we were build up to be today," said Stoops. "That is not surprising. Usually the first scrimmage we are always upset with the way we tackled and today we missed a lot tackles."

"We have some people on offense that are making people miss, but generally we don't miss a whole lot of tackles on defense," Stoops continued. "We will get after them and the players will see their mistakes and work hard on them the rest of the way. Tackling is something that we have been good at and have been able to take care of through practice and repetition

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