Regardless which running back is on the field, the Sooners' offensive line made an offseason commitment to improve a 3.3 yards per carry average, the lowest in the Bob Stoops era.
"Right after the Fiesta Bowl, going into winter workouts, we emphasized we've got to get bigger, stronger," said center Ben Habern. "We've got to be able to move guys off the ball and open holes in the run game.
"In spring ball, we did a great job moving guys off the ball. We finally started playing as a unit, understanding our calls, our footwork and where we're going."
Hanna poised for big year
Stoops predicts a big year for tight end James Hanna, who caught 18 passes, seven for touchdowns. His biggest play was a 76-yard touchdown catch in which he outran Oklahoma State's secondary with less than three minutes left in a Bedlam win.
"The funny story about that was one of my friend's roommates said he saw Boone Pickens walk out of the stadium as soon as that play was over," Hanna said. "That was funny to me."
Jones might play Saturday
A week into two-a-days, linebacker Kellen Jones transferred from Michigan to OU. A true freshman, Jones still has much to learn but might play Saturday on special teams.
"Kellen is a real serious guy," said nickel back Tony Jefferson. "He's always watching film. He's asking me questions. The guy is driven. He wants to play. He came in here and did what he had to do."
The Sooners are thin at linebacker. Veteran Travis Lewis suffered a broken toe three days into two-a-days. Austin Box, who would have been a senior returning starter, died in May. Jones is listed as a backup weakside linebacker.
"The numbers (depth) is the real issue," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "Let's face it, it's not an ideal situation. But it is what it is, so we've got to get guys to a level where they're comfortable, that if they get called upon they can play."
Chosen a captain an honor
Punter Tress Way and center Ben Habern were voted captains.
"When coach called my name I just tried to do a little calm clap, but I wanted to freak out," Way said. "I was so pumped. I'm really proud my friends, my teammates, voted me in. Knowing the team captains here before, I can't tell you how much that means to me."
Habern said: "It's one of the biggest honors I've gotten here. It's cool to know I've got the support from my teammates ... I know there's responsibility that comes with it."
In the hallway leading into the locker room, photos of the five captains are displayed. Habern's name was misspelled (Haburn) for several days but was corrected on Wednesday.
Boomer in mascot competition
The Sooners' horse mascot, Boomer, is one of 16 mascots that will compete head-to-head each week throughout the season.
Determined exclusively by fan voting, the top mascots, based on weekly win-loss records, will advance to the playoffs in late November.
In OU's first week matchup, Boomer currently trails TCU's Superfrog 5,958 votes to 2,249.
Next week Boomer is matched against Oregon's Duck. In Week 3 Boomer faces Georgia's Hairy Dawg. In Week 4, Boomer meets Oregon State's Benny Beaver. There will be a matchup each of the first 12 weeks before the playoffs.
Other schools in the competition include: Arizona, Auburn, Maryland, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Michigan State, LSU, Nevada, Old Dominion, TCU and Western Kentucky.
Fans can monitor the standings and vote each week at www.CapitalOneBowl.com.