Oklahoma Sooner Football: Spring Battles Begin on Monday

J.D. PatrickCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2011

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 27:  Receiver Michael Harrison #7 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys pulls in a pass against defensive back Demontre Hurst #19 of the Oklahoma Sooners at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  The Sooners beat the Cowboys 47-41.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Competition all over the field is expected in Norman starting on Monday.  While some Big 12 schools have already begun their spring drills, the Sooners get to work on their eighth national title beginning Monday. 

While it's no secret that Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles and Travis Lewis will all be back, the battle for playing time this fall should be intense.  Oklahoma is overrun by youth, and although they have several kids returning with starting experience, not many positions are set in stone.  A sudden drop in depth at DB, coupled with the fact that these Sooners must drop three scholarships by fall should be plenty of motivation for a lot of these players.  

There's no doubt who currently owns the QB job.  Which means the interesting battle to watch will be between Drew Allen and Blake Bell.  Sooner fans attending the spring game on April 16th should do so knowing that they won't be seeing much of Landry Jones.  They will, however, get a firsthand look at who the next quarterback of this Oklahoma program could possibly be.  Keeping in mind that signing Gunner Kiel could alter those future plans.  Oklahoma is indeed sitting very high on his list at present.  

The prognosticators have anointed Roy Finch as the successor to Oklahoma's all-time touchdown maker Demarco Murray.  However,  due to his ankle injury he won't be participating in the spring activities.  Jermie Calhoun will be accompanying him in the weight room as well while he continues to rehab his knee. 

This leaves Brennan Clay, Jonathan Miller and newbie Brandon Williams.  Coach Gundy is also still very high on walk-on Dominique Whaley and continues to insist that he'll be a star.  Needless to say this will be a very interesting position battle to keep an eye on.  So many talented backs and not enough carries.  Look for the ones that excel at catching out of the backfield to get a leg up for fall.  

Ryan Broyles might have played one series in last year's spring game, and this year probably won't be any different.  If Kenny Stills can stay off the juice he should also retain his spot in the lineup.  However, the two quarterbacks battling it out for the backup spot will have plenty of young talent to work with.  Joe Powell, Justin McCay, Trey Franks and Sheldon McClain are going to want to impress.  Dejuan Miller and Trey Metoyer joining the team in the fall should give them all the motivation they need. 

With the intense battle that will be taking place in Oklahoma's secondary, making an impression will be no easy task.  Defensively the key areas to watch are pretty obvious.  With Jamell Fleming's status for the fall uncertain, there are several spots up for grabs.  All indications are that Demontre Hurst has had an excellent winter session and is a solid corner. 

Brent Venables is extremely high on Aaron Colvin as well.  While he plans on breaking in a new position at safety, Venables insists his flexibility would make it no problem for him to move back to corner on demand.  Gabe Lynn and Javon Harris have both reportedly had excellent winters, and both appear primed to make their contributions.  

Brent Venables has indicated that the style of defense they run will depend on personnel.  He's acknowledged the dropoff at the defensive tackle position after Gerald McCoy and Adrian Taylor by changing up his defense as the 2010 season went along.   

If he doesn't see solid play from his DTs this spring, look for the Sooners to continue to evolve their version of the "50" defense.  Sooner fans should look for Ronnell Lewis to play the role that Jeremy Beal played last season with Frank Alexander manning the true defensive end position.  Geneo Grissom will be another one to watch as he will be competing for the same position as Ronnell Lewis.

These Sooners will more than likely begin the season atop the polls, which historically hasn't been a good thing during the Stoops era.  That hasn't always been the case in Oklahoma's history either as all three of Barry Switzer's titles came when his teams started the season at No. 1.  Maybe Stoops should take some time this spring and pick Switzer's brain a little.  Figure out a way to convince his team that running the table next fall is not only possible, but probable.

Boomer Sooner Baby!!