OU has been trying something it learned while visiting Nick Saban’s coaching staff from Alabama.
In the words of running back Mossis Madu: “The two teams are on different sides of the field. The coaches have said they don’t want to see guys standing around. So instead of the second team watching the first team, now we have both teams going all out the whole practice. I think today we got in 120 plays a couple of weeks ago.
“This spring has been based on speed. Right now with the way practices are going, the people do look a lot faster and swifter. We’re also doing the A Team and B Team type of stuff, so guys are out there getting a whole lot of reps.”
That kind of practice plan has done well in developing depth at Alabama. There’s a reason why Bama, even after losing key players off its national championship team, will be ranked No. 1 preseason.
For young, second-team guys like Javon Harris, Kenny Stills, Dan Franklin, Bronson Irwin, Gabe Lynn, so on and so forth, this kind of work could prove to expedite their development.
“Guys get better from practicing,” said wide receivers coach Jay Norvell. “This gets them more practice reps.”
* Speaking of Madu, the rising senior from Norman is enjoying being back at running back, after last year’s experiment sitting the bench at receiver.
“Running back is home for me,” he said. “It comes natural to me. I just hope I can get out there and make plays.”
Madu is probably the favorite to back up DeMarco Murray at RB, and in that capacity, Madu should see several carries next season, something he’s pumped about after spending most of last season on the sidelines.
“I could be selfish and say that last year was a lost year,” Madu said of his move to receiver. “But it was one of those things that they asked me to do. They told me before hand that I had an opportunity to start there but in the end it was just harder for me to adapt to.”
Madu thinks that season at receiver could help him become a better overall back.
“I see myself running routes out of the backfield better this year,” he said. “I’m catching the ball a whole lot easier this year. It feels like the routes I’m running at tailback are so easy because it’s a lot slower of a route for a running back.”
Coach Bob Stoops has been very pleased with Madu up to this point: “Mossis is doing great. He really looks like he’s in great shape, he’s had a great winter, you can tell. He looks really quick and he’s doing a lot of things really well.
“He’s a natural at (running back). He has a good feel for things and he can do a lot of things and he’s a good-, hard-playing guy that has a lot to him. We want to give him those opportunities and he’s looked good in spring. It’s only been one day in pads but I can tell he’s had a good winter and he’s moving well.”
* Stoops discussed Monday the imminent arrival of Boise State coach Chris Petersen. I asked Stoops if one of the things they’d discuss would be trick plays.
“I’m going to try and find out some of theirs,” Stoops joked. “Mine used to work a long time ago but it’s been a little while since they have. No one notices them when they don’t work.”
Stoops, on a more serious note: “I really appreciate and respect everything they do and we’ll share ideas and confer on things. Just like everyone has made a big deal on Coach Saban and I and Alabama. This isn’t uncommon. We get together and share ideas and there’s always different ways of doing things and seeing things through someone else’s eyes and that’s what coaches do to a degree.”
Peterson is also visiting Oregon’s practice next week. It’s unclear exactly what day Peterson will be in Norman.
* Receiver Ryan Broyles has been working on his strength this off-season. He’s up to benching 330 pounds, a career-high for him. He thinks he’s only going to get stronger during the summer.
Said Broyles: “Really I feel like I put on more strength during the summer time because we work hard during the summer.”
Mark Clayton said during OU’s pro day earlier this month that he and Broyles have begun to develop a relationship.
Broyles discussed that, saying “I started talking to Mark probably eight months ago, before the season started. He’s always got good advice and growing up here in Norman I’ve always looked up to him. And he knows that. He’s always got things to say and I’m always there to listen. I’m taking in as much information as I can from a guy that’s been through this system and now in the NFL.”
* Offensive guard/tackle Jarvis Jones has been cleared by doctors to practice after undergoing season-ending heel surgery last fall.
I asked Jones about the change in dedication and commitment from the offensive line Stoops referred to earlier this month, Jones said it’s off-the-field stuff as well as on-the-field. He said the line is going to class, taking care of their classwork. Jones said he was one of the problems last year. Now, he’s trying to become one of the solutions.
“I’m working toward being a better person, a better character guy,” he said.
* On the advice of trainers, Murray has been doing yoga this off-season to help him avoid any future injuries. Murray is trying to become more flexible, which should not only enhance his agility, but prevent his tendons and muscles from tearing. Murray has suffered turf toe, a dislocated kneecap, a torn quad and a sprained ankle his first four years at OU. Murray’s sprained ankle is nearly all healed. He says it’s about 90 percent.
Murray is not expected to do any scrimmaging or live drills this spring, in an effort to keep him healthy.
* True freshman WR Sheldon McClain has been fully cleared for practice. McClain, who enrolled early at OU, tore his ACL during his senior season of high school.
* Norvell said OU’s other true freshman, Kenny Stills, is having a great start to the spring. Freshman Jaz Reynolds also noted that Stills is showing some things in practice, and wouldn’t be surprised, if like Reynolds did last season, Stills avoided redshirt and was part of the receiving rotation as a true freshman.
* Former OU linebacker Gus Jones has resurfaced at Northeastern State University. Jones, a graduate of Wagoner, spent last season redshirting at OU, then at semester’s end, decided he was transferring.
“It was a great experience at OU, but it just wasn’t for me,” Jones told the Muskogee Phoenix. “Why did I leave? I really didn’t fit in. I didn’t want to sit around and wait to play either, but it was tough to leave friends because I’d been with them for six to seven months.
“There are a lot of country kids at NSU and there were very few at Oklahoma. I feel a lot more comfortable at NSU.”
* QB Sam Bradford is in Norman prepping for his March 29 pro day, which will go a long way in determining whether the Rams take him with the No. 1 overall pick. Bradford won’t be lifting or running. He’ll just be throwing, to show his surgically repaired throwing shoulder is good to go. The pro day is closed to the public.
St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney reportedly had a casual meeting with Bradford’s agent in the lobby of the hotel Tuesday where the NFL was conducting its annual meetings.
Tom Condon, the agent, said the discussion with Devaney concerned Bradford’s pro day workout and a follow-up visit between the two sides and a potential private workout.
Follow Jake Trotter on Twitter: @Jake_Trotter.
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