NORMAN — With the Red-White Spring Game in the books, Oklahoma has only fall camp before the Sept. 5 season opener against Brigham Young. Below is some of what we learned about the 2009 Sooners from the spring, as well as some of what we’ve yet to find out:
What we learned→ The defensive front is stockpiled with depth and talent Clearly, the most impressive unit of the Red-White game was the defensive front, which boasts five capable defensive ends, including standouts Auston English, Jeremy Beal and Frank Alexander, and enough linebackers to go three-deep in the middle and both outside spots. Injuries crippled the defensive front last year. But with this much depth, the Sooners should be able to overcome any injuries to defensive end or linebacker next season. →The rebuilt wide receiving corps is good enough for OU to win big Despite losing three of its top four receivers, OU quickly reloaded at wide receiver, thanks to the shrewd move of shifting Ryan Broyles to the outside, and bumping third-team running back Mossis Madu to the slot. That, combined with the emergence of spring MVP Adron Tennell, has allowed OU to put its best skill players on the field at once. The group is deep, as well, with Dejuan Miller, Jameel Owens, Brandon Caleb and Cameron Kenney sure to contribute.
What we don’t know→ Can special teams become a strength, or at least not a weakness? Last year, poor special teams hurt OU in its two biggest games, Texas and Florida, both losses. The Red-White game didn’t do anything to suggest the kicking game will be any better in 2009. Tress Way averaged 37.6 yards a punt, which would’ve ranked 95th in the nation last season. He also didn’t have a kickoff go past the 8-yard line. Place-kicker Jimmy Stevens was 3-of-3 on extra points, but he didn’t even attempt a field goal. →Can the offensive line protect QB Sam Bradford and pave lanes for the running game? On the first series of the Red-White game, the line allowed Bradford to be sacked twice, then failed to establish the running game the rest of the day. In fairness, the group was shorthanded due to injuries to Stephen Good and Jarvis Jones, which forced Trent Williams, Brian Simmons, Brian Lepak, Ben Habern, Alex Williams and Cory Brandon to play a ton of snaps. But even in the early going, when they shouldn’t have been tired, the offensive line was whipped by the defense more often than not. Time will tell if this line, which has the potential to be stout, can gel into a championship-caliber unit.
Visit the OU blog at http://blog.newsok.com/ou for a list of four spring standouts that could make an impact in the fall.