As Oklahoma put the finishes touches on preparations for the Missouri Tigers, it was evident that this week has been one of urgency within the Sooner program. The Sooners have worked long and hard this week, not because they fear Missouri, but because the Sooners realize they need to play better if they want to reach their goal of winning the national championship.
Each practice this week was at least 15 minutes longer, and each day most players stayed after practice to work individually on their own skills.
"I think, as players, we have to take it upon ourselves to pick our intensity up a notch," said All-American senior tight end Trent Smith. "The coaches have pushed us this week, especially on offense. We deserved it, because we haven't been able to put it all together and there is no reason for that. We have not blocked as well as we need to up front and that is something I take great pride in. We should be a dominating blocking team up front and we really haven't been that as of yet."
"I think this weekend we are really going to break out and get things going offensively," continued Smith. I hope I can catch a couple of touchdown passes, and if my roommate (Nate Hybl) will throw it to me then I will have a chance."
The Sooners worked on all aspects of the offense and spent the end of every workout working on trick plays. I feel Bob Stoops is a great trick play caller and I have wondered why he hasn't called any trick plays since his rookie season as the Sooner coach.
"I know James, you always want me to call those trick plays don't you," said a chuckling Head Coach Bob Stoops. "I promise we still have them, but I just haven't had that feeling as of late to call much."
"However, I am getting that feeling back and I think our football team likes it when we pull something off that is a little different," Stoops continued. "So we work on them and we have worked on a bunch of new ones as well. We have been getting very creative out here in practice. A number of things could be coming in the next couple of weeks."
The Sooners had a little fun as well, which is always good at this time of year.
"The one thing that I enjoy the most about coaching right now in my career is watching these kids have such a great time while working hard at the same time," said Stoops. "They are working really hard, but there are moments that something happens that is funny and this team will break out laughing about it."
"All these guys get along so well and they get along with us as coaches, and that is a tremendous enjoyment for me. That is what coaching is all about."
Noah Allen worked as the scout team quarterback this week and before you say how the world could be emulate Brad Smith, the nimble Missouri quarterback, remember that Allen is a pretty good athlete himself. Since Missouri doesn't run a lot of option Allen could easily pretend that he was Smith.
As far as the Sooner offense goes it has been a week of self evaluation. The offensive coaches have spent the entire week looking hard at themselves as well as Missouri.
"People have to remember that we have changed our offensive philosophy a little bit. When you go through that process you are constantly learning something new about your own offense," said Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long. "We have looked long at hard at our formations, play calling, personal groupings and how we practice. This is as much on the coaches as anybody else."
"I am tough on myself and since Kevin (Wilson) and I are working together for the first time we are constantly trying to improve our communication on the field. We have simplified some things, but at the same times we have decided to use certain things even more. I think we will try some new personal groupings on Saturday, because we were becoming too predictable. We also feel we can run out of certain formations better than others, but we can pass out of those formations as well. I want to mix things up a little more and feel that will be important against Missouri."
This will be a big game for the offensive line, but the guys sound like they are ready for it.
"I think we are ready to have a great game," said sophomore offensive tackle Wes Sims. "It's not like we are getting whipped up front."
"It is more of a small breakdown in the blocking as a unit. Maybe we didn't block the right shoulder on a defensive tackle and he gets in the way enough to keep us to a two-yard gain instead of a ten yards. We are working those things out and we will be much better in the near future."
Many fans are disenchanted with Sims at left tackle and what is wrong with a player who looks so perfectly suited to play left tackle. Sims has never been one to hide from critics and this time was no different.
"I haven't been playing great, but like I said about us as a unit I am close," said Sims. "Left tackle has taken some getting used to and to be honest I feel more comfortable at right tackle."
"However, each day I work at left tackle and I am feeling better about it. I certainly feel better about playing tackle than guard. I hear that most people want me to play guard and I can play guard pretty well, but in the long run I am going to be a much better offensive tackle. I want to be a great player and I am going to do everything I can do to be a great player."
That is really all you can ask out of a guy and then it comes down to whether he has it or not. I am betting that he does have it and will eventually be a great player.
Senior cornerback Andre Woolfolk was still working out in shorts and a t-shirt on Thursday, so he will not play this weekend against Missouri. However, all plans are for ‘Woolf' to return to the Sooner workouts on Monday, and he will play against those testy Texas Longhorns. Michael Hawkins will start in his place with Antonio Perkins playing mostly strong safety. The Sooners feel they are going to be in their nickel package most of the game.
OU is a much better team than Missouri, but the Tigers are playing at home and I like Smith, their rookie quarterback. However, OU is better and should win this game 31-14.
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