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Oklahoma football: Offensive thoughts from spring game

by Berry Tramel Published: April 16, 2012

Seems like every year that passes, I enjoy football more and more. Which explains why I actually enjoyed OU’s spring game Saturday. Live football is hard to beat, even if you can’t hit the quarterback or have a scoreboard that means something.

So here are my thoughts on the Sooners from Saturday. I’ll stick to offense in this blog, then hit you with defense later.

* On the scrimmage’s first 13 snaps, the Sooners put the ball in the hands of three Treys – Millard, Franks and Metoyer. I wonder if the nature of their first names precludes the Sooners from adding any more Treys.

* Metoyer is a star in the making. I’m ready to proclaim him the Sooners’ best receiver right now, even before he sees his firstOklahomaAugust.

After an opening series in which the Sooners kept dropping Landry Jones passes (Kenny Stills on a curl, Brennan Clay and Franks on swing passes), it was refreshing to see Metoyer trot onto the field with the second unit and start catching the ball.

Metoyer had six catches for 72 yards, both game highs. His second catch was a doozy; Blake Bell threw an out pattern high – the only place he could throw it without a defender’s hands getting in the way. The pass was so high, even Metoyer later said he thought it was sailing over his hand. But Metoyer speared the ball. Great catch. Looks like the recruiting hype might be right about the freshman, who spent the autumn semester at a military academy to get academically eligible.

* I don’t think Roy Finch is going to be preseason first-team all-Big 12, like he was in 2011. In fact, Finch looks no better than OU’s third-best tailback, and that’s not counting Dom Whaley, who is recovering from a broken ankle. Saturday, Brennan Clay not only was OU’s most productive tailback (10 carries, 65 yards), but redshirt freshman Danzel Williams looked sharper than did Finch.

Bob Stoops didn’t tip his hand on Williams – “Danzel’s done a good job for the most part, but he’s got a lot of things he needs to get better at.” – so who knows if Williams will play. But I liked him. Williams made vaunted juco recruit Kass Everett look bad on an open-field whiff.

* I didn’t even mention Millard at tailback. But he opened the scrimmage at tailback with the No. 1 offense and had an 11-yard gain on the first snap. I’d be shocked if Millard played much tailback; he’s too good at fullback. Millard’s just another guy at tailback.

* Those drops didn’t stop after the first series. Stills dropped a deep throw from Drew Allen on what would have been an 80-yard touchdown play. Allen’s numbers would have looked a lot better if Stills had made the catch.

Stoops defended Stills – “Kenny’s been solid all spring.” Stoops said the windy day made it hard on the receivers judging the ball. OK, but seems like a windy day would hurt the quarterbacks more than the receivers, and QBs didn’t look so bad in the breeze.

* Stoops also said punt returns are no problem, even though Stills looked shaky. Not as shaky as Finch, but shaky.

“Kenny’s the one that needs to be back there,” Stoops said. “We’ve got great faith in Kenny. We feel great about Kenny doing it.”

* I’d make Allen my backup quarterback. Seems an easy choice to me. You’ve got Landry Jones the starter and Blake Bell as the short-yardage Belldozer engineer. So why playBellin mopup duty and risk injury? Then the ‘Dozer is gone. There’s plenty of time for a quarterback derby next spring.

With that said,Belllooked better Saturday. I don’t know if he’s looked better most of the spring. ButBellwas sharper Saturday.

Of course, it helped that Allen seemed to go into the wind much of the day, whileBellhad the wind at his back a good portion of the time, at least early in the scrimmage.

* By the way, if you see Stoops on the street, don’t ask him who’s going to be the backup QB. He’s not all that interested in talking about it.

* If you’re going to pop people for drops, you have to give them props for great catches. Millard had a nifty grab on a swing pass that was behind him; walkon flanker Derrick Bradley made a terrific catch on a slant in which he was pulverized by senior safety Jesse Paulsen; walkon receiver Seth Carter made a good catch in traffic on a swing pass, which is good news for Carter but not for the offense – why is there traffic on a swing pass?

* I don’t understand all the action for Trey Franks. I mean Saturday and the previous two seasons. I just don’t get it. He doesn’t really produce.

* Offensive line play was really good. Mostly good protection and some big holes up the middle on running plays, all with Ben Habern out at center, which means Gabe Ikard shifted over with the first-team offense. The O-line will be a strength.

“I think the offensive line’s made really significant improvement,” Stoops said. “That comes with experience. Time in the weight room, time on the field, responsibilities, getting to people.”

* Kendal Thompson looked good at quarterback, but circumstances set him up perfectly. Thompson’s blue shirt meant the defense couldn’t touch him, and the Big 12 officiating crew seemed slow to blow the whistle when Thompson scrambled a time or three.

 

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by Berry Tramel
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Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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