SOONERS EXPERIENCE IRISH SPORT
Oklahoma football standouts Blake Bell, Gabe Ikard and Trey Millard experienced sports abroad this summer while studying in Ireland.
Along with volleyball senior Morgan Reynolds, the football trio traveled as part of an upper-division sociology course called “Sport and Culture in Ireland.”
Among the biggest takeaways for Ikard and Millard? Most Gaelic Athletic Association athletes aren't paid.
“It was interesting to see guys that play at the highest level, just playing for pride and for country and the love of the game, not monetary reward,” Ikard said.
They even got to try their hand at some traditional Irish sports. Through a company called “Experiencing Gaelic Games,” the Sooners played Gaelic football and hurling — two of the country's most popular sports.
Gaelic football is similar to soccer with a few differences, including the ability to use your hands.
Both Ikard and Millard said hurling, similar to field hockey and lacrosse, was one of the hardest sports they've ever played.
“Hurling is impossible,” Millard said. “I did the Gaelic football and I was a lot better at that one. But the hurling was insanely tough.”
WILL THE BELLDOZER LIVE ON?
Bob Stoops admitted that if Bell is the OU starting quarterback, the Sooners could turn to a new trigger man for their short-yardage offense.
During Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday, Stoops said there are advantages to using Kendal Thompson or Trevor Knight in a form of the Belldozer, the short-yardage package that's been incredibly successful the last two years with Bell in relief of Landry Jones.
Stoops said he “wouldn't shy away” from using Bell in the Belldozer, if Bell becomes the starting quarterback.
“But you bring up good points,” Stoops said. “In thinking through this, you put Kendal or Trevor back there, they're faster. You've got more options. If they do hit a crease, they're not likely to be caught. It does give him (the starter) a break. And what you're alluding to, allows you not too many hits.”
But Stoops said Bell would be effective, too, even as the starter.
“Going no huddle, snapping it, we'll do that, too,” Stoops said. “I'm not sitting here wanting to tip my hand. Blake is a big, strong, sturdy guy. But we never want our quarterback to take too many hits.”
STOOPS: FINCH IMPROVING
Oklahoma running back Roy Finch had a complicated junior season in 2012.
Finch, who started eight games with 196 carries, 1,003 yards and five touchdowns over his first two seasons, barely saw the field on offense last year, recording only seven carries for 62 yards.
Coaches often alluded to off-the-field and practices issues being the reasons behind the speedy back's lack of playing time in 2012, when he was used almost exclusively as a kick returner.
At Big 12 Media Days, Stoops said Finch did a good job working through the winter and spring, and believes he could play a bigger role as a senior.
“I'm not able to be with him through the summer, but some of the grade and academic up-checks have been pretty positive for him,” Stoops said. “That's a good thing. Hopefully that's the case. We really like Roy. Always have. He really is a spark. Hopefully that will happen.”
STOOPS ENCOURAGES FANS TO TWEET RECRUITS
Stoops isn't the most Twitter-savvy college football coach.
He has a Twitter account but keeps it locked down and uses it primarily to connect with recruits but doesn't use it to engage fans the way his brother, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin or others do.
“I don't have the personality those guys have,” Bob Stoops said Tuesday at Big 12 Media Days.
But Stoops doesn't see social media interaction going away, even though fan interaction with recruits is technically an NCAA violation.
“In today's world, once things get rolling, it's not stopping,” he said.
He later said he didn't know how the NCAA could enforce that rule.
So Sooners fans should start contacting recruits through Twitter, the way Kentucky fans have done?
“I'm pretty sure that's what it means, yeah,” Stoops said. “Hear that OU fans? Get on board.”
IKARD IMPRESSED WITH FEO SO FAR
Ikard has been impressed with junior college transfer Tony Feo so far.
“He might be the strongest guy on our team,” Ikard said. “He's close if he's not. He's got a chance to be a special lineman, once (new offensive line) Coach (Bill) Bedenbaugh's able to work with him throughout camp, I think he could help us for sure.”
Feo was a late addition to the class, signing with the Sooners in early May, more than three months after signing day.
Stoops said he was a little surprised a player like Feo was available that late.
“Yes and no,” Stoops said. “It's amazing sometimes where guys all of a sudden finish up and you really like them.
“We're excited to have him with us.”
Feo (6-foot-4, 275 pounds) figures to be in contention for playing time somewhere on the offensive front.