Five Questions: Spring Football

Spring is in the air as Sooners football kicks off their first practice today in preparation for the 2009 season. While there are a number of high profile players returning there are still a number of questions that look to be answered by some spirited competition this spring.

If this spring follows script we may not get all of the answers to our most burning questions, but that is not going to keep us from trying to uncover their answers.

1. Who will step in at safety for Lendy Holmes and Nic Harris?

Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes are gone, so who will ste up at the safety positions will be one of the biggest questions people are asking as things heat up his spring.

The obvious answer for one of the spots would be Quinton Carter, who played admirably in his time in 2008. Sam Proctor and red-shirt freshman Joseph Ibiloye are talked up the most as the most likely to battle it out for the other spot.

With the emergence of Mike Balogun and Austin Box could there now be any chance that Keenan Clayton moves from linebacker to his first position at OU?

2. Who will emerge as the new go to receiver?

Bradford had great rapport with outgoing seniors Juaquin Igesias and Manuel Johnson, so he will need to establish a connection with a brand new guy in '09. Who will it be?

Jermaine Gresham is no doubt going to be an integral part of the offense and is the odds on favorite, but his skills would be somewhat neutralized if some real outside threats are not established.

A lot will be on the shoulders of sophomore receiver Ryan Broyles who will be the leading receiver back in '09.

Still there is a lot of opportunity out there for someone to step in and be the guy. DeJuan Miller and Jameel Owens were both top 100 players coming out of high school and many believe it will be one of these two that steps up. Brandon Caleb, Adron "Pooh" Tennell and future enrollees Cameron Kenney and Jaz Reynolds will also likely be in the mix. Could an athletic guy with big play potential like a Lamar Harris now get a look on the offensive side of the ball? Will Mossis Madu really get a look?

3. Will the 2009 defense be that much better than the 2008 defense?

I have actually been arguing with friends all off-season because I really believe that the 2008 defense was much better than the numbers suggest. They simply faced an extremely talented group of amazing offenses. There were some games they struggled, but all-in-all they were a stout bunch considering the deficiencies at MLB in a few games. Plus they were very opportunistic.

That being said I would almost guarantee that the '09 version will put up much more impressive numbers, so it will be recognized as one of the nation's best.

The defensive line will be absolutely amazing with Gerald McCoy, Adrian Taylor, Auston English, Jeremy Beal, and Frank Alexander. The linebackers will be strong and Travis Lewis has proven that he is one of the very best linebackers in the country with his '08 performance. Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson are rock solid at the corners.

The biggest question will be safety, but it looks like OU will be alright there as well.

4. What is the injury situation?

It would be fair to think that DeMarco Murray would most likely be on track to be back sometime soon after Spring camp, but questions abound when a player of his caliber is bouncing back from a knee surgery. It took awhile for him to get warmed up in '08, so the quicker he gets back the better, but it would still stand to reason that the coaches will be super cautious of how they use him well in to Fall camp.

Ryan Reynolds has faced a lot of adversity in his time at OU and he has always responded well to it. He was looking extremely sharp before going down early in the second half in the Texas loss. Will he be able to overcome yet another injury and return to his previous form in time to be in the mix as the starting MLB? If not will it likely be Balogun or Box in the middle?

How about DeMarcus Granger? Back injuries are about as fickle as they come. His injury status may be the most questionable.

Are there any other players nursing injuries that will be a significant concern to the '09 efforts?

5. Who will be the big surprise of the spring?

There is always that one player that emerges from off the radar during the spring and is talked about as being a phenom or the next big thing.

This year the spring game should be a lot of fun as there will be some spirited competitions as guys battle for vacated starting spots and the new vacated spots in the two-deep.

People always talk about who is starting, but these young guys are out to prove that they are the ones who deserve the practice reps to get prepared to come in to games should the man in front of them go down.

There are a host of ultra talented guys that are fighting it out for these spots, especially along the offensive and defensive fronts to get in the starting mix or the two-deep mix.

My odds on favorites to be the talk of the spring are: R.J. Washington, Landry Jones, Stephen Good, Mike Balogun, Joseph Ibiloye

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