Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said the Sooners have the best weakside linebacker tandem in the country in All-America candidate Travis Lewis and Corey Nelson.
Nelson has played so well this spring, the coaching staff will try to find ways to get Nelson on the field more his sophomore year.
"I would not hesitate to put him in during an extended drive," Venables said. "We'll find ways to get both of them on the field."
Nelson recorded four tackles and a sack in Saturday's Red-White spring game. Coach Bob Stoops said Nelson played as well defensively as anyone this spring. And it wasn't even close.
"When coach Stoops said that, I just thought, 'Wow, the team has really helped push me to become a better player,'" Nelson said. "I'm going to say we because it's a team. They provided me with the skills and abilities to get better throughout practice."
Lewis, who said last fall Nelson would be better than he ever was, has a solution.
"He's definitely a player that needs be on the field almost every snap," Lewis said. "We've expanded our base defense that will allow him to. If I need to take a seat to get this guy on the field he's that good."
MORE PHYSICAL GROUND GAME
One area of emphasis this spring was to develop a more physical running attack.
"The improvement in our offensive line this spring was very noticeable," Stoops said. "Just being sounder, being able to run the football was something I've seen throughout the entire spring, in particular the last half of spring."
Offensive line coach James Patton said: "We didn't have any opportunities on the goal line today but we missed only one third-and-short... We've improved. Going against our defense every day it's been pretty good."
WAY STAYS BUSY
Junior punter Tress Way, an All-American candidate, punted for both teams. He averaged 49.5 yards on 11 punts.
"He has a chance to really be special after he refines that big leg of his," Stoops said. "You see it more and more. It's just working those couple that aren't quite as pure like he can hit it."
Because both defenses kept Way so busy, Stoops had walk-on Kelton Miller punt in the fourth quarter.
Venables was asked if Way's busy day was an endorsement how well the defenses played.
"Our guys are used to what the offense runs," Venables said. "You're playing a vanilla version. The offense went in with one arm tied behind his back. They didn't have a bunch of their players — the receiver, the tight end, the fullback. We keep it in perspective. But our guys were pretty clean."
WINCHESTER PLAYS RECEIVER
Senior James Winchester is a dependable deep snapper. He has a knack for making tackles and recovering fumbles on special teams.
But he was recruited as a wide receiver.
With OU's receiver depth thinned for the spring game, Winchester played several snaps Saturday on offense. He caught two passes.
"I'm always sweating it," Stoops said of a possible injury. "Even in the fall when he's with the scout team. But what are you going to do? Not let the guy play? He likes it.
"He has to have fun. So don't get mad and act like I'm a fool if one of these days he gets hurt in practice and we don't have anyone else to snap the ball. You only live once, right? The guy is only going to be here for a period of time. He needs to enjoy it. He's having fun."
HUNNICUTT MAKES HIS CASE AS FG KICKER
Stoops said Jimmy Stevens is the No. 1 kicker but redshirt freshman Michael Hunnicutt and junior Patrick O'Hara will compete for long field goals.
Hunnicutt ended spring as a candidate for long attempts after he converted 40- and 36-yard attempts in the spring game. O'Hara missed from 49 yards.
Stevens, who recaptured the job mid-season, made both of his attempts from 25 and 28 yards.
Nearly half (12) of the top 25 teams in last year's final AP poll had their spring games televised. The Sooners have been approached to televise the game but Stoops has declined.
"I don't need to give reasons," Stoops said. "I just prefer not to have it on. Why would I let everybody we're going to play early see what we like to do?"
ESPN televised the Red/White games in 2006 and 2007.
Basketball coach Lon Kruger participated in the pre-game coin toss ceremony... Former Kansas head coach and OU offensive coordinator Mark Mangino spent time on both sidelines watching the game... All three quarterbacks threw one interception. Aaron Colvin, Gabe Lynn and Demontre Hurst had one interception each.