Red/White Game: DeMarco dazzles again

See inside for James Hale's position-by-position breakdown, indluding stats, of Saturday's Spring Game. Redshirt freshman DeMarco Murray (pictured) was impressive again rushing for 103 yards on just four carries. For the spring, Murray rushed for 327 yards on 29 carries. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

Norman, Okla. — Once again, all eyes were on the quarterbacks but it was DeMarco Murray who stole the show for the third-straight scrimmage this spring.

Murray, who scored on his first carry of the day with an exciting 18-yard touchdown run, finished with 103 rushing yards on four carries. For the spring, he finished with 327 yards on 29 carries.

As for the quarterbacks, junior Joey Halzle led the way with 162 yards, although he completed just 7 of his 18 pass attempts. He also threw the lone interception as well as three more passes that should've been picked off. However, Halzle did connect on the biggest play of the scrimmage by a quarterback when he hit Adron Tennell for a 45-yard touchdown pass against the first team defense.

Redshirt freshman Sam Bradford was the most steady of the three completing 9 of his 14 attempts (two dropped) for 110 yards. He also threw the games' first touchdown pass with a 23-yard strike that hit walk-on Carter Whitson between the cornerback and safety. True freshman Keith Nichol only competed 3 of his 7 passes for 25 yards, but he showed flashes of his running ability with several big gains. Nichol did not throw a touchdown, interception or lead a scoring drive.

As for the offense vs. defense battle, the first team offense scored on three of their 10 drives against the first team defense, while the second team offense scored on two of their 10 drives against the second team defense.

Below are my position-by-position thoughts on the Red-White game and OU's progress this spring.

I thought it was another solid day for Sam Bradford. I thought he threw some really good passes, and for the most part looked the best of the quarterbacks. I'm also impressed with Keith Nichol's overall ability to run and throw, even though he didn't get as many reps as the other two quarterbacks today. Joey Halzle was hot and cold. He can look really bad at times and really good at other times.

But I still think this is a race that's far from over, at least in the coaches' eyes. I
think they really like Bradford right now, but they think Nichol will be a different
quarterback in the fall as he matures and learns the offense more over the summer. And while Joey Halzle may not look great to us, in the eyes of the coaches he's really doing some good things.

For those of you who were at the game today, ESPN analyst and former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie tabbed Bradford as the starter several times times during the broadcast.
Running Backs
In my opinion, DeMarco Murray is the best back on campus. You want to keep saying it's Allen Patrick, but I think Murray has been the best back this spring. And let's not forget about Chris Brown, who has been impressive as well.

To be honest, I don't know what they're going to do here. Can they really play them all? All three are good so it's going to be interesting to see who gets more carries than the other. It's also too bad we haven't seen much of Mossis Madu.

Nevertheless, I think Murray is going to be a superstar with the potential to be something special.
Wide Receivers
Adron Tennell has proved this spring he can get open, but he just needs to catch it consistently. I'm also impressed with Quentin Chaney and how he's still fighting. It's
also nice to see Manuel Johnson healthy and active. And what has happened to Juaquin Iglesias? He hasn't been heard from much this spring.
Tight Ends/Fullbacks
The bottom line is OU is really good at tight end, even if they're not throwing to them as much as Sooner fans would like. OU's tight ends dominant at times today blocking the edge. Also, OU's fourth-best tight, Eric Mensik, is proving to be a really good blocker.

At fullback, Brody Eldridge was fantastic again today blocking out of the backfield. The early word is his injury is that it wasn't as severe as it looked, but we'll see. Matt Clapp has been much of the spring, so that has left the door open for Dane Zaslaw and he has played well. When Clapp comes back, and if Eldridge is healthy, this is going to be a very good group. Zaslaw also caught two passes for 19 yards.
Offensive Line
I thought they had a great day today run blocking. Duke Robinson and Trent Williams were just rolling today. However, Williams got burned for a sack by Auston English and didn't have his best day pass blocking. Also, center Jon Cooper is developing into a great player and Chase Beeler has also come on as his backup.

Overall, the offensive line helped OU's trio of running backs (Patrick, Brown and Murray) rush for 185 yards on 24 carries. However, they gave up nine sacks on 39 pass attempts.

With Phil Loadholt and Brandon Walker held out of the scrimmage, today's starters were  Cooper at center, Williams and Branndon Braxton at tackle and Robinson and Brian Simmons at guard. The second team was Beeler at center, Sherrone Moore and Kody Cooke at guard and Noah Hughey and Cory Brandon at tackle.
This group had their good and bad moments today, but the bottom line here is Curtis Lofton, Mike Reed and Lewis Baker are still learning their positions.

I thought Reed played OK. He had the big hit on the second play that forced Allen Patrick to fumble, as well as a nice play dropping back in pass coverage, but he's still learning the defense. I think he's begining to come on and you have to love the way he attacks the run game. He's going to be better against the run than those who played his position the last several seasons.

Reed finished with seven tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumlbe and one pass breakup, while Lofton added seven tackles and one tackle for loss. Lewis Baker also played well forcing the fumble that was eventually covered by the offense in the end zone and picking off a Joey Halzle pass.
Defensive Ends
It looked lke to me they rushed the quarterback well, but did a poor job defending the running game. Alonzo Dotson and John Williams were the starters, but I saw Auston English (two sacks) and Jeremy Beal (one sack) make more plays today than the starters. I was just surprised the offense was able to run the ball as well as they did.
Defensive Tackles
I thought DeMarcus Granger had a great day today (five tackles/three sacks). This group struggled somewhat if you look at the rushing numbers, but remember they were without Gerald McCoy and Steve Coleman. Adrian Taylor also made some great plays rushing the quarterback (two sacks). I really like Adrian Taylor and the way he jumps the football.

The surprise of the spring was that walk-on Tommy Taggart drew the start today with the first team alongside Cory Bennett. Taggart is a guy the coaches have been talking about quite a bit. They compare him to Kory Klein.
Marcus Walker and Reggie Smith started at corner with D.J. Wolfe and Nic Harris, who led the defense with eight tackles, at safety. Freshman Dominique Franks played quite a bit and was the nickel with the first-team defense.

I don't think it was a bad day for the secondary, but they did give up the long touchdown pass from Joey Halzle to Adron Tennell (beating Nic Harris). Lendy Holmes (two dropped interceptions) returned to action and worked as a second team corner with freshman Jonathan Neslon. Franks and Keenan Clayton were the second team safeties.

Special Teams
Garrett Hartley was a perfect 4-for-4 on his extra points, but missed his lone field goal attempt (52 yards). Punter Michael Cohen was impressive averaging 41.6 yards, while backup Mike Knall averaged just 33.7. DeMarco Murray also saw time as both a punt and kick returner.
Final Thoughts
Each time I watch Bradford I am more and more impressed, but I know there's a lot more to determining who the starter will be than the scrimmages. But, to me, Joey Halzle is just a little more hit and miss than the other two. If the coaches are looking for consistency, they're not always going to find it in Joey. At least that's the way it's been since he's been on campus for the last year.
I thought the offense had a good day. They shot themselves in the foot by dropping passes, but they ran the ball really well and eventually made some plays in the passing game. Again, I'm just really impressed with Bradford and Nichol.

I also continue to be amazed how Adron Tennell always seems to be open. If he can catch it consistently he's going to be something special. OU's tight ends blocked well today and knocked the snot out of people on several ocassions. It's amazing how this team has  gone from being a school with virtually no tight ends to possibly the best unit in the Big 12.
Defensively, this team is still a work in progress. There have been times this spring where they have totally throttled the offense, but you have to be disappointed in the rushing yardage they allowed today. Then again, they don't have all of their players. I think Ryan Reynolds means a lot to this team. And if he's not out there, it's going to be interesting because Mike Reed will need to become the player they think he can be maybe faster than he's ready to be.

* OU head coach Bob Stoops says that Tuesday's final practice will include a scrimmage and could be open to the public. We'll let you know as soon as we know Stoops' decision.

Scoring Plays
Murray 18 yard run (Against 2nd Team D)
Whitson 23 yard pass from Bradford (Against 2nd Team D)
Tennell fumble recovery in end zone (Against  1st Team D)
Patrick 1 yard run. (Against 1st Team D)
Tennell 45 yard pass from Halzle  (Against First Team D)
Halzle -- 7-18-162, 1 TD, 1 INT
Bradford -- 9-14-110, 1 TD
Nichol -- 3-7-25
Murray -- 4-103, 1 TD (18)
Brown -- 11-67
Patrick -- 9-15
Nichol -- 6-15
Anderson -- 2-(-3)
Bradford -- 1-(-7)
Halzle -- 1-(-8)
McEachern -- 3-(-13)
Chaney -- 2-65
Tennell -- 2-64, 1 TD
Whitson -- 2-45, 1 TD
Brow -- 2-35
Johnson -- 2-23
Zaslaw -- 2-19
Gresham -- 1-14
Caleb -- 1-11
Strong -- 1-8
Eldridge -- 1-5
Finley -- 1-5
Murray -- 1-4
Gutierrez -- 1-(-1)
Hartley -- 4-for-4 PATs, 0-1 FG (52)
Moreland -- 1-for-1 PAT
Knall -- 6 punts, 33.7 avg.
Cohen -- 5 punts, 41.6 avg.
Kick Returns
Murray -- 3-60 (20.0 avg.)
Johnson -- 2-24 (12.0 avg.)
Iglesias -- 1-18 (18.0 avg.)
Harris -- 8
Reed -- 7, 1 TFL (-2), 1 FF, 1 PBU
Lofton -- 7, 1 TFL (-3), 1 FR
L. Robinson -- 6, 2 PBU
Bowers -- 6, 1 sack (-3)
Smith -- 6
Nelson -- 6
Wolfe -- 6
Granger -- 5, 3 sacks (-12)
B. Jackson -- 5, 1 PBU
Holmes -- 4, 2 PBU
Davis -- 4
Franks -- 3
A. Taylor -- 3, 2 sacks (-6)
Baker -- 2, 1 INT (13 yards), 1 FF
Clayton -- 2, PBU
D. Pleasant -- 2, 1 TFL
English -- 2, 2 sacks (-12)
M. Walker -- 1, 2 PBU
Beal -- 1, 1 sack (-3)
J. Williams -- 1, 1 TFL (-3)
Bennett -- 1
Crow -- 1
Box -- 1
Macon -- 1
Taggart -- 1

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