OU spring practice report: Day 12
Saturday, the Sooners will hold their annual Red-White Spring Game, with a twist.
In the past, score was kept by pitting the offense vs. the defense, with points being awarded for things like first downs and turnovers.
This year, the Spring Game will be an actual game.
Instead of offense vs. defense, the game will be Red vs. White, with the Red having an offense and defense, and the White having an offense and defense.
“I’m going to bring in the seniors, split them up, and they’re going to have a draft,” coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday.
Stoops projects QB Landry Jones to be the first pick in the draft.
“I would bet that,” Stoops said.
Other news and notes from Tuesday’s practice:
* RB DeMarco Murray and center Ben Habern will not be participating in the Red-White game, Stoops said. Murray, for precautionary reasons. Habern, because he’s coming back from a broken fibula. Receiver Ryan Broyles is also expected to see limited action.
* Jones continues to have a strong spring. Following a season in which he threw 14 picks, in 200-plus plays through two spring scrimmages, Jones has tossed only one interception.
“I got to keep working on that,” he said. “One pick in 200 plays, yeah. But one pick is too many. It’s a game-changer. I got to keep working on that.”
Like in the first scrimmage, the offense moved the ball well in Saturday’s scrimmage, though struggled around the red zone, which is where Jones’ lone pick took place.
“We didn’t finish. That’s something we have to work on,” he said. “Overall, though, I was pleased with it.”
* Enough can’t be said by the players and coaches about the improvement in leadership on the offense line, and one big reason has been Cory Brandon.
“Cory Brandon is our leader on the offensive line,” rising sophomore guard Tyler Evans said, definitively.
Brandon is a lock to start at one of the tackle spots. He had a rough start to last season, committing several penalties in the loss to BYU, and eventually losing his job to Jarvis Jones. But Brandon stuck with it and bounced back, quietly closing the season with strong outings against OSU and Stanford.
That kind of leadership seems to be paying off.
“We’re working as one unit right now,” Evans said.
* Tight end James Hanna is capping what has been a solid spring showing. No one has ever questioned Hanna’s athleticism. Yet the consistency and production hasn’t always been there.
“Confidence,” Hanna said. “But I’m growing more confident every day.”
Hanna has been impressing during the scrimmages. He had a huge TD catch during OU’s first scrimmage, breaking a tackle and rumbling for a long TD.
Hanna said he believes the tight end position should be much improved next season.
“Last year, it was rough. I expected to be the fourth string guy, and I ended up being the first or second string guy,” Hanna said, referring to the loss of Jermaine Gresham to injury, and Brody Eldridge to a position change. “Now, we know we’re the guys, and we’re fighting like we’re the guys.”
Returning tight ends Hanna and Trent Ratterree should see most of snaps at tight end again next season. The two have separate skill sets, which should complement the position well. Hanna, a former high school wideout, was recruited as a flex tight end, while Ratterree has worked his way up the depth chart by being a solid blocker.
This spring, the two are working together to become better all-around tight ends.
“I feel like he pushes me to be a better blocker, I push him to be a better receiver,” Hanna said. “It’s been helpful.”
* Stoops said nothing much has changed with the place-kicking battle between Pat O’Hara and Jimmy Stevens.
“It’s still a good competition,” he said. “I don’t see it ending any time soon.”
Freshman Austin Woods is working on long snapping with the field goal unit, and QB John Nimmo is handling the holding.
* Stoops canceled last week’s Friday practice, and has rescheduled it for the Monday after the Spring Game.
Follow Jake Trotter on Twitter: @Jake_Trotter.
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