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Sooners prefer best bowl, best matchup

By John Helsley Published: June 26, 2006
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Trying to forge through the lazy days of summer while counting down to kickoff? Here a few questions - and answers - to ponder:

Did OU sense any potential downside to playing Oregon in last year’s Holiday Bowl, knowing the Ducks would be waiting in Week 3 of this season?
Bob Stoops doesn’t dodge matchups. We now know that there was some back-room wrangling by bowl matchmakers to get the Sooners out of San Diego and into a game against a name opponent, namely Michigan, in the Alamo Bowl.

Neither Stoops nor OU athletic director Joe Castiglione were involved in those discussions. But Stoops eventually put an end to such talk, preferring the Holiday Bowl and its third slot in the Big 12 pecking order to the Alamo Bowl at No. 4.

“That’s not us,” Stoops said recently. “I want to play in the very best bowl we can play in against the best teams we can play. The upside is much greater.

“Joe whole-heartedly agreed. We want to be picked where we’re supposed to be picked, and let’s go play. The guys played well, and we won a good football game.”

What’s the latest outlook for incoming freshman Jermaine Gresham?
Already, Gresham is suggesting that he should never be counted out.

The buzz among recruiting analysts last winter was that 1.) Gresham’s knee injury was a major concern; and 2.) he was more likely headed to Northeastern A&M Junior College than Norman, due to academic issues.

Well, Gresham is at OU, quite qualified and quite healthy after December surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.

He’s running well and commanding attention in offseason workouts, showing off the skills that made him the nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect.

So don’t count Gresham out of competition at tight end, where he caught 70 passes for 1,205 yards and 24 touchdowns last fall for Ardmore High.

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Summer pride

Here's a look at the five Sooners with the most to gain this offseason:

1. LB Demarrio Pleasant, Jr./Curtis Lofton, So.: Injury to Ryan Reynolds opened up a starting job. Pleasant could seize the job if spring academic issues are behind him. If not, Lofton could move over for a look.

2. OL Brandon Walker, Jr.: One guard spot is his for the taking if Walker can speed through the junior college adjustment period.

3. QB Rhett Bomar, So.: Can go a long way in making a statement that this is his team.

4. DT Gerald McCoy, Fr.: Wants desperately to join the mix up front as a true freshman.

5. WR Paul Thompson, Sr.: Last chance to make an impact; adding skills at new position.

Sizing up the schedule

Sept. 2 UAB...WR Reggie Lindsay had 53 catches, 11 for TDs, a year ago.

Sept. 9 Washington...Huskies coming off first back-to-back losing seasons since early '70s.

Sept. 16 @ Oregon...since his arrival, coach Mike Bellotti's 90-42 record is Pac 10's best.

Sept. 23 Middle Tennessee...senior QB Clint Marks set single-season school record with 2,749 yards in '05.

Oct. 7 Texas...UT's three scholarship QBs are all freshmen.

Oct. 14 Iowa State... schedule shift now includes South's big three: OU, Texas and Tech.

Oct. 21 Colorado...kicker Mason Crosby made 13 FGs from 40 yards and beyond.

Oct. 28 @ Missouri...Tigers are 3-24 against the Sooners since 1973.

Nov. 4 @ Texas A&M...RBs Courtney Lewis and Javorskie Lane combined for 16 rushing TDs last year.

Nov. 11 Texas Tech...can Red Raiders replace RB Taurean Henderson's 1,400 total offense and 22 TDs?

Nov. 18 @ Baylor...Edmond Santa Fe alum Brandon Whitaker, with 30 receptions at RB a year ago, could thrive in new spread attack.

Nov. 25 @ Oklahoma State...outgained by league-worst 148.7 yards per game in '05 league contests.

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