Despite the threat of severe weather across Oklahoma, Saturday, more than 20,000 fans turned out in Norman to take the first look at the 2012 edition of the Oklahoma Sooners football team.
A late touchdown drive from redshirt quarterback Kendal Thompson gave the offense a 22-21 over the defense on a very windy day at Owen Field.
While no spring game is ever a true indicator of how a team will perform during the regular season, there were a lot of things to take away from the Sooners performance on Saturday.
– We’re going to see a lot of Trey Millard this season. The junior fullback, whom defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and linebackers coach Tim Kish, both newcomers, said is the best player on the team, carried the ball very effectively on the few possessions he was on the field for. He also caught a couple of passes and threw some excellent blocks. The more Millard is involved, the better the OU offense is. There is no doubt about that.
– The first team offensive line has a chance to be 2008 good. In 2008, both Demarco Murray and Chris Brown ran for 1,000 yards behind a very experienced and very talented offensive line. Today, OU’s running backs were constantly ripping off large gains, with the line opening large holes consistently. Remember, starting center Ben Habern hasn’t played at all this spring because of his recovery from neck surgery. When he returns, junior Gabe Ikard will slide back over to guard, and the line becomes more complete.
– The Sooners have a very solid stable of backs with Millard toting the rock, along with Brennan Clay, Roy Finch, and redshirt freshman Danzel Williams. That’s not even including the return of 2011 leading rusher Dominique Whaley from ankle surgery, and incoming junior college transfer Damien Williams. If the offensive line can perform like they performed today, and the running backs stay healthy, Oklahoma could have a very potent running game to go along with their strong vertical passing game.
– Speaking of the passing game, senior quarterback Landry Jones only played the first series, leading the offense on a long field goal drive. Quarterbacks Drew Allen and Blake Bell took the majority of the snaps for the rest of the day, with Kendal Thompson getting into the action later in the third quarter. Allen and Bell are basically co-2nd string quarterbacks, especially with Bell coming in on the Belldozer packages. However, if Jones were to go down, there is no doubt Allen would be the starter.
– Thompson was very impressive in the action he saw, making several long scrambles, and led one of the two touchdown drives for the offense. Thompson has a lot of athleticism, and can make plays with his feet. However, he’s clearly the fourth quarterback on the depth chart.
– Defensively, the Sooners were shredded early, but buckled down after allowing two consecutive scoring drives to the first team offense. Overall, not a bad performance from Mike Stoops’ unit. Still a lot of work to do, though.
– The last person who could have afforded to get burned on a deep ball, did today. Senior safety Javon Harris, who drew the ire of fans and coaches after blowing several assignments against Baylor, got turned around while covering Jaz Reynolds, allowing Reynolds to haul in a 60-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bell. Harris started with the first unit, and Mike Stoops has said repeatedly Harris has been working extremely hard in practice. You can’t base it all on one play, but that certainly won’t sit well in the eyes of fans.
– The hype machine was very correct and justified in the case of freshmen Trey Metoyer and Jordan Phillips. Metoyer, a wide receiver, made several acrobatic catches and ran hard after the catch. Phillips made a lot of noise on the defensive line, gathering a touch sack and a couple tackles for loss.
– Former Sooner running back Adrian Peterson was honored after the first quarter for his recent $1 million donation to the OU athletic department. He received a standing ovation from the crowd.
– Many OU players that have been participating in spring practice didn’t suit up due to some small injuries. Those players included defensive end RJ Washington, who will likely be a starter in the fall.
We’ll have a lot more coverage from OU’s spring game this week, so be sure to check back throughout the week for stories and analysis from Saturday’s action.