TEMPE, Ariz. — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is insistent on not addressing some of the team's transfers until January.
But some of the defections became obvious Monday when the team's first Insight Bowl practice was briefly opened to media members.
Receivers Justin McCay and Sheldon McClain weren't with the team. In fact, just as practice was beginning, McCay tweeted about going ice skating. McClain talked about a mall.
Still, despite the visual evidence, Stoops had no interest in detailing their statuses.
“Let's talk about who's here,” he said after practice. “You guys can (talk about who is not). You like to talk about who isn't here. I like to talk about who's here.
“You can talk about it all you want. I'm not going to.”
Another of the outgoing players, Torrea Peterson, was dropped from the two-deep. Freshman Marquis Anderson is now listed as a backup at defensive tackle. Defensive back James Haynes was also not at practice.
“Sometimes the best thing for a kid is to move on and go someplace else and start fresh and for them to be happy,” co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jay Norvell said. “Everybody can't play, but that's basically the truth. We need good players.”
The starters for Friday's game against Iowa, according to the depth chart OU released Monday, are a freshman and two sophomores.
Kameel Jackson, the freshman, and Trey Franks are there due to the injuries to Ryan Broyles (knee) and Jaz Reynolds (kidney). Kenny Stills is now the No. 1 target. Senior Dejuan Miller and deep snapper James Winchester are the backups.
With the losses, defensive back Joe Powell has been moved back to receiver. Norvell said he's quickly shaken off any rust.
“My (meeting) room is not as quiet as it used to be,” Norvell joked about the outspoken Powell. “Joe is back and it's like riding a bike and he's jumped right in.
“He's a great kid and a tough competitor, and it's good to have him back. He'll help us and he'll be ready to play, and we won't be afraid to stick him in there if we need to.”
Kendal Thompson, who has been the scout team quarterback most of the season, was at receiver Monday, too. But both Stoops and co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said he's not a candidate to play there. Heupel said he was running there due to an injury preventing him from throwing.
Another poster guy for some of OU's depth issues is Jaydan Bird. The junior is listed as the backup at both middle linebacker and fullback. Bird has appeared in all 12 games at linebacker. He has 16 tackles, including 3 ½ for a loss.
Bird has played one play at fullback, Blake Bell's 28-yard touchdown late against Oklahoma State. He was playing there due to a spinal cord injury to Aaron Ripkowski.
He had been practicing there for about a month, just in case Ripkowski did go down. So had defensive end Ronnell Lewis, who is not eligible this week due to an academic suspension.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said he's “a team guy,” willing to share his defensive players with the offense, if need be – and this bowl season is turning out to be a definitive case of need be.
“Jaydan's smart enough and good enough,” Venables said. “He's an instinctive football player, and it doesn't surprise me he's able to go over there and do what they want him to do. I'm all for it.”
So is Bird, who lit up in November when he was asked to play on both sides of the ball — even if it's required a bit of time management during practice. He'll work some with Venables and the linebackers, and then trot over for a few plays with the goal-line offense.
“It takes a little bit” of adjusting, Bird said. “You just have to switch your mindset, and your perspective is different.”
Like Bird, the Sooners are learning to be adaptable. There's a game to play Friday, regardless of who is or is not available.
“We're a little thin at several different positions, but we're going to go,” Norvell said. “We do what we do. I think there's more concern outside our program than inside our program, to be honest with you.”