NORMAN, Okla. — The race to replace several key starters on Oklahoma's offense, including quarterback Nate Hybl, officially began as the Sooners held their first spring scrimmage of the 2003 season Thursday in Norman.
"I was extremely pleased," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops after Thursday's scrimmage. "There was a lot of good sharp play, very few penalties, a lot of clean play. We got a lot of offense and defense in that was all executed really pretty well... very few breakdowns."
"We need to replace a lot of guys who have made plays for a long time," Stoops continued. "It's good to see ‘BJ' (Brandon Jones) out here."
If you had to give an MVP award to one player for the first scrimmage it would have to go to junior receiver Brandon Jones. Jones, who is splitting time this spring between baseball and football, caught five passes for 102 yards, including two touchdown passes from Noah Allen.
"I was surprised to see him (Brandon Jones) today," said Stoops on Jones. "I guess he was anxious to scrimmage. He's missed some practices, but I'm all for guys who have the ability to play both sports. He made a difference out here today."
Allen, a redshirt freshmen from Pearland, Texas, and sophomore Paul Thompson clearly stood out on this day at quarterback. It's still early, but both made several tough throws and didn't do anything to beat the team with their play today. In addition to his two touchdowns passes to Jones, Allen completed 10-of-21 passes for 138 yards.
Thompson, who was the first quarterback to take snaps with the first team offense, was the Sooners' steadiest quarterback Thursday going 9-for-12 for 141 yards. Thompson was also the only quarterback to lead the first team offense to a scoring drive against the first team defense. It was only a field goal, but Thompson completed a huge 35-yard pass to Mark Clayton to spark the drive.
Sophomore Brent Rawls struggled somewhat and was intercepted by Antonio Perkins on his first drive against the first team defense. Rawls completed 7-of-12 passes for 68 yards.
Senior Jason White did not scrimmage, but will be cleared tomorrow to go through full contact drills and compete in the remaining scrimmages this spring.
"I thought the quarterbacks, all three of them, for having as little time as they've played out here really managed, I thought, awfully well," said Stoops. "They did a nice job in running the offense and executing. They'll learn a lot from it."
Stoops has praised the Oklahoma offensive line everyday during the first week of spring practice, and they didn't disappoint on Thursday paving the way for 229 rushing yards on 48 carries.
"I don't think there's any question this will be, far and away, our best offensive line," said Stoops. "We'll have a great ability to run the ball, no question."
Jerad Estus was the Sooners' leading rusher with 77 yards on 15 carries while first string running back Kejuan Jones carried the ball 10 times for 62 yards. Sophomore Donta Hickson coughed up the only fumble (recovered by Larry Birdine) of the afternoon, but still managed to run for 45 yards on nine carries. Renaldo Works was impressive as well, even juking Brodney Pool on one carry for a big gain. Works gained 45 yards on 14 carries.
"I thought the running backs all did good," Stoops continued. "Renaldo, Jerad, and Kejuan made some really good runs. They (running backs) all had good days, and they all took care of the ball for the most part. Donta was impressive, he made some nice plays too. They're all doing good, I'm happy with them."
On defense, it was status quo for one of the top units in the nation. Oklahoma's first team only allowed one scoring drive (a 33-yard field goal by Trey DiCarlo) and pretty much shut down their opposition for most of the afternoon.
"Had a lot of clean hits and some good play," said Stoops on the defense. "No one got hurt and that's the best thing. We held some guys out after a while. We kept Derrick Strait out and tried to rotate some guys in. We'll be solid on defense."
The only major breakdowns were from redshirted defensive backs Mark Bradley and Jason Carter. Bradley bought on a pump and go while covering Jones that ended up in a 65-yard touchdown pass, and Carter busted on a long 60-yard pass play on a slant over the middle from Thompson to Ataleo Ford. Bradley did show his great speed running down Ford from behind and preventing a touchdown on the play.
"I couldn't be more pleased," said Stoops on the first week of spring practice. "The way our guys went at it yesterday was real impressive in our first day in pads. They were really physical and got after it. And then to come out today and do this was really pleasing."
The Sooners will get the next five days off for spring break.
"The break will be good," said Stoops. "They're looking forward to a rest and a break. We'll come back and get at it Wednesday. We've got no one hurt so it (break) will be good.
"We went four straight days hard so it will be good for them to rest up. I'm always glad to have a spring break, I'm no different than anybody else."
Allen 10-21-0-2-138; Rawls 7-12-1-0-68; Thompson 9-12-0-141-1.
Estus 15-77, K. Jones 10-62, Works 14-45, Hickson 9-45.
B. Jones 5-104, Wilson 4-38, Allen 3-25, Estus 3-17, Clayton 2-46, Rankins 2-15, Works 2-12, Ford 1-65, Donley 1-6, K. Jones 1-12, Moses 1-5, Runnels 1-2, Ekuri 1-0.
Mitchell 12, Carter 7, Lehman 7, Pool 7, Nicholson 4, Poteat 4, Shelby 4, Thompson 4, Chambers 3, Cody 3, Sacheck 3, Alexander 2, Bradley 2, Birdine 2, Dennison 2, Hager 2, Hulsey 2, McCoy 2, Latimer 2, Perkins 2, Sublet 2, Allen 1, Crump 1, Harris 1, Jackson 1, Strait 1.
Trey DiCarlo 33-yard FG. (First team Offense vs. First team defense)
Donta Hickson 6-yard run. (Second team Offense vs. Second team defense)
Richard Allen 6-yard pass from Paul Thompson. (Second team Offense vs. Second team defense)
Brandon Jones 65-yard pass from Noah Allen. (Second team Offense vs. Second team defense)
Brandon Jones 10-yard pass from Noah Allen. (Second team Offense vs. Second team defense)
Stoops pleased with first scrimmage
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