Oklahoma will have to wait another year on junior receiver Jalen Saunders, a transfer from Fresno State whose appeal for immediate eligibility was denied by the NCAA, coach Bob Stoops said at Monday's news conference.
Saunders, a junior, led Fresno State in receiving last season as a sophomore with 50 catches, 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns while earning All-WAC honors. He chose to leave Fresno State after coach Pat Hill was fired and replaced by Tim DeRuyter.
The news isn't entirely unexpected. Saunders didn't travel with the team to Saturday's season opener at UTEP.
Tight end Geneo Grissom and defensive tackle Torrea Peterson did not go to El Paso with the team. Grissom was serving a one-game suspension, but Stoops said he will be suiting up for the game this Saturday against Florida A&M. Peterson is dealing with academic issues that will, Stoops said, most likely keep him from participating in Game 2.
Senior defensive tackle Casey Walker is another Sooner who stayed behind in Norman. No word has been released on what has happened, but assistant coach Mike Stoops confirmed Monday that Walker is not practicing with the team. Senior defensive tackle Stacy McGee remains suspended.
LANDRY JONES ADMITS INCONSISTENCIES
Quarterback Landry Jones saw some good things from the team against UTEP, but he acknowledged the Sooners have inconsistencies everywhere.
“We had flashes of greatness all over the board,” Jones said. “One play I'd be great. One play I'd (stink).”
Jones finished the game with 22 completions on 36 attempts for 222 yards.
Bob Stoops recognized inconsistencies in the line and the wide receivers.
“When you got guys open, the line broke down,” Bob Stoops said. “When the line held, then we didn't get open. It's just putting it all together.”
That “putting it all together” starts in practice.
“If you want to be great players and want to be a great team,” Jones said, “you've got to be practice players.”
STOOPS NOT WORRIED ABOUT MILLARD'S LACK OF TOUCHES
Senior fullback Trey Millard is going to get more touches this year, coaches said during fall camp.
“That's something we wanted to do, and we're doing that,” said running backs coach Cale Gundy. “The thing with Trey is, he's one of our best tight ends. He's also our best fullback, and he's also our best carrier. He's a hybrid. You have to find ways to get him touches.”
In Saturday's season opener at UTEP, though, Millard got two carries for six yards. He caught two passes for 19 yards.
“I thought Damien (Williams) ran it pretty decent, didn't he?” Bob Stoops responded when asked about Millard's lack of touches. “So did Dom (Whaley). I'm not going to sit here and worry that each guy has gotta get this many (touches). It just happens to be in the flow of the game.”
Last season, Millard only had 24 carries, but one of them was a 61-yard touchdown run at Kansas State.
A TYPICAL DAY OF PREPARATION FOR JAYDAN BIRD
Jaydan Bird makes plays on both sides of OU's ball. He's a fullback on offense and a linebacker on defense.
On Saturday against UTEP, the senior from Wichita, Kan., was one of the lead blockers in the Belldozer and also blocked UTEP's fake punt attempt.
A typical workout for Bird is a split practice, usually starting with offense first and then defense. He said coaches talk before practice about the packages they're working on for the day and where they'll need Bird. Playing both sides of the ball means more time in the film room.
“I enjoy it,” Bird said. “It's fun going both ways. You gotta stay in shape. After that first game, running down the field, a 65-yard run, then turning straight around and going on kickoff, I was tired.”
*Landry Jones's 68-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills wasn't just the longest reception of Stills' career — it was also the longest play from scrimmage for OU since Nov. 27, 2010. Jones found Cameron Kenney against Oklahoma State for an 86-yard touchdown pass.
*In the fourth quarter, junior college transfer Damien Williams had a 65-yard TD run. That's the longest for a Sooner since 2008, when DeMarco Murray went 70 yards against Texas A&M.
*Punter Tress Way punted seven times against UTEP. The senior had three punts for 50 or more yards — 54, 52 and 50. He now has 61 punts for 50-yards or more in his career.
*OU's opening drive of the 2012 season was a punt blocked for a touchdown. That's the first time for an OU opponent since Sept. 7, 2002, against Alabama.