Oklahoma Sooners Spring Game Review
Well, that was interesting.
First of all, listening to the game on the radio doesn’t do it justice for two reasons. First, you don’t get to see anything about the technique that’s truly useful.
Second, Bob Barry Sr is WAY past his prime. His ability to follow the game barely meets the standard of being below average, and his pronunciation of names is comical at best.
Highlights are up at soonersports.com. My highlights are as follows:
OL play: This is a significant improvement from last year. The number of stupid holding calls and false start penalties from last year’s game has come down immensely. Even if their run blocking only goes to average and their pass blocking improves minutely, not getting these stupid penalties turns an eight-win season into a 10-win season.
That said, I saw a few times where Jeremy Beal absolutely abused whatever poor tool was across from him, and the resulting hit would’ve been utterly crushing to the QB. Stephen Good went down with an ankle sprain, but it doesn’t look to be serious. He was actually having a pretty good day up until that point. Ben Habern is back ahead of schedule, and was back in good form.
Our starting OL next year looks to be Stephenson, Good, Habern, Evans, Brandon (from left to right). We’ll get solid depth from Ikard and Mensik for passing situations (as neither has the size to be consistently effective in the running game), Brian Lepak will be a solid backup C, and Jarvis Jones should be able to contribute in the interior once he heals up.
Kicking game: Absolutely terrible. We may very well have the single worst kicking game in the entire Big 12. Tress Way is a fantastic punter. But our placekicking is mediocre at best, and our FG kicking is a crapshoot from more than 40 yards out.
Marshall “Meta” Musil: He’s a guy you can count on to be regular. He’ll give us a much needed threat to run at FB, and he’s dangerous out of the backfield as well. I think we’ve got our starting FB for 2010.
Kenny Stills: I once advocated that we stop recruiting this young man because his heart seemed set on USC. However, some people, when scorned by their first choice, give up on life and half-ass everything. Others get pissed off and throw their heart and soul into proving why they should’ve been picked.
I’ll be the first to admit I had Stills pegged wrong. Thank God for that. Because after what I’ve been told about his performance in practice, and what I saw of him in the spring game, Stills will be our No. 2 or No. 3 WR by conference play.
Tony Jefferson: The other half of the early-enrollee duo from S.D., Jefferson is a legit badass with great speed and damned good instincts. He’s going to see the field a lot next year. He’s already getting the kind of respect from his teammates that’s usually reserved for upperclassmen.
LB corps: Jesus, we’re stacked at this position. I can say without hesitation that there’s not a LB group in the Big 12 I’d trade this group for.
Tom Wort is a balls-to-the-wall, motor-always-on MLB who’s got all the right tools to get the nod at MLB. This is a guy so committed (or crazy) that he shaved his hair into a mohawk and dyed it red. The only problem he faces is that Ronnell “the Hammer” Lewis is in front of him.
Lewis is the LB I want in when UT thinks they’re going to run their “Jack ‘n Jill” downhill offense (h/t to Scipio Tex for the brilliant turn of phrase ).
Travis Lewis just understands everything. He’s the complete package athletically, and he’s to the point where all he has to do is react. Joseph Ibiloye looks like he’s got the SLB/DB position locked up. He keeps doing things right, and he’s not easily beaten. He’s got the speed to keep up with RB’s out of the backfield on short/flat routes, and he’s got the size to keep from getting out-muscled by bigger TEs.
Jaydan Bird also showed flashes of promise, but he’s still got some work to do understanding the schemes. One guy I overlooked is Austin Box. He’s got enough athleticism and experience in the defense to be a great MLB. I would not at all be surprised for Box to take the starting MLB job either.
D-Ends: Beal and Alexander are both proven commodities. Beal will turn in another great First Team All-Big 12 year, maybe even make a couple of All-America teams, and Alexander will post very solid numbers.
Frankly, I don’t see any OT’s in the conference who can consistently block either of these guys one-on-one. RJ Washington seems to have finally had the light come on, but spring practice and the real thing are very different.
D-Tackles: Stacy McGee and Casey Walker aren’t going to terrorize any backfields, but they’re not going to get run over, either. They’ve both gotten to the point where they can hold their ground at the point of attack. JaMarkus McFarland looks to be making that next step just like McCoy did in his second year. The faster he does so, the better our DL will be.
We still need Adrian Taylor to come back 100 percent. Worst case scenario, they still won’t be a liability. I read one fool who thought Justin Chaisson had lost weight. He’s actually put on about 10 pounds or so. People forget we recruited him as a DE, not a DT.
CBs: Average. They didn’t get beat often, if at all. But they weren’t breaking up passes and disrupting the passing game, either. UT’s going to be going downfield a lot more next year, and we’ll need more out of this group.
Ryan Broyles: Still the best WR in the Big 12 by a large margin. Had a quietly impressive day. I’d like to see more aggression in his downfield blocking, though. Mark Clayton set the gold standard in this regard.
RBs: Nothing to say here. Calhoun is nursing a sprained ankle, Murray was only allowed to catch punts, and “Meta” Musil was the leading rusher. The only thing this tells me is that the coaches thought Calhoun was valuable enough to hold out of the scrimmage when he could really use the game-type reps.
Whaley, the walk on from Langston, had a very decent day, but he’s not going to make anyone forget about DeMarco Murray or Jermie Calhoun.
QBs: Landry Jones went 17-34 for 211 yards and 2 TDs. Not bad with Ryan Broyles on the other team. He looked a LOT more comfortable in the pocket, and he continued his progress in good decision making from the end of last season. I’m actually beginning to think we’ll have a good passing game next year.
More importantly, Drew Allen showed he could be a serviceable backup for Landry Jones. He can make a lot of the throws, but he’s not the starter for a reason.
WRs/TEs: Jaz Reynolds looks to have made some progress. He had a step on his man regularly, but his hands still need work. DeJuan Miller appears to have one of the three starting WR spots locked down. He’s going to be a great weapon to have in the red zone and as a possession WR who can get us 3rd and 7 by bodying out a CB. Trent Ratteree is Joe Jon Finley II. Awesome? No. Reliable? Yes.
James Hanna had a catch for a big gain, and I think he can take the starting TE job if he can get the blocking end down. That said, there were still a lot of drops from the receivers, and I think our reliable hands group consists of Broyles, Miller, Stills, and maybe Ratterree. Everyone else needs to be catching a football about 200 times a day every day from now until August.
We spent a lot of time in the pistol formation. I am not excited by this, and I hope it’s merely a ploy to throw off any opponents hoping to scout us for next year. I was excited by the number of times we went downfield, but I’m less excited with the quality of the passes.
If that’s Aaron Williams covering Broyles or Stills, those passes are batted down or picked off. I’m going to cut some slack because it was wet, rainy, and just not a good day to be throwing the ball around.
This article originally appeared on Boomer & Sooner
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