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OU football: Five areas to watch during spring game

Secondary vs. wide receivers might be the most important aspect to watch Saturday at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Published: April 13, 2012

Clay broke a long touchdown run last week in a scrimmage that offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said was the San Diego product's best of his career.

“It was as decisive, as explosive a run as I've seen him make, making someone miss and getting up the field,” Heupel said. “Brennan Clay has been really steady. He's competed at a high level, productive.”

Finch and Clay have a combined 307 career carries. Dominique Whaley will get a lot of carries if he proves during two-a-days he's fully recovered from a broken ankle.

Saturday afternoon is Clay's and Finch's opportunity to make an impression.

“They should know everything we're doing,” said running backs coach Cale Gundy. “There's not anything we could call that they wouldn't know what to do. That gives them a chance to play fast. Now it's time for them to be great players.”

Running back depth was an issue late last season when injuries/transfers mounted.

Not this year.

The competition will heat up during fall camp two-a-days after freshmen Alex Ross (Jenks) and Arizona Western juco transfer Damien Williams (San Diego) arrive this summer.

“We feel a lot of those guys are talented,” Gundy said. “How quickly can they adapt? Talent-wise, they're as talented as anyone we have here.”

Backup quarterback competition

When Landry Jones announced he was returning for his senior season, it gave Heupel another year to evaluate the play of junior Drew Allen and sophomore Blake Bell before naming Jones' successor.

Allen has been the No. 2 quarterback the past two seasons, but Bell received more playing time in the Belldozer short-yardage, power package. The ongoing battle for the backup job gets more intriguing as Bell gains more experience in the system.

Heupel on Allen: “Drew has a good grasp of what we're doing. He's becoming more and more accurate with the football and is doing a better job of taking care of the football.”

Heupel on Bell: “Blake really is in only his second year of getting a lot of time within our offense this spring and last fall camp. He's gotten better every five-day period.”

Reports are Allen is more consistent and has a better grasp of the offense. But Bell has a cannon arm and continues to improve.

“Blake is known for running but probably has the strongest arm of all the quarterbacks,” said receiver Jaz Reynolds. “He can fit it into tight holes. Drew has a nice deep ball.

“They watch plenty of film. Even if they're not playing, they're maturing mentally. You see it show up on the field. They're making their reads faster and getting guys the ball and letting them run.”

How much will the Belldozer be used today?

Not much, if at all.

Coach Bob Stoops said early in the week he keeps game plans simple for the spring game.

The Belldozer power set ran by Bell was installed at mid-season. No need to reveal any new wrinkles in a package that was highly effective last season but opponents are sure to game plan during the offseason.

“I don't think we're going to tip our hand much,” Bob Stoops said. “It will be fairly simple, both sides what we do.”

Amid speculation how much the Belldozer might be used, center Gabe Ikard said: “I don't think it will be abandoned. It was too successful.”

OU's defense claims to have played well against the Belldozer in limited action this spring.

“We've been stopping it,” Jefferson said. “When they can't get any yards, they scramble to try to find something. They try the Belldozer and that still doesn't work.”