What We Learned (and Didn’t) About the Sooners This Spring

Landry Jones
OK, one more post on spring football. We promise this is the last one.

Homerism’s writers give their take on what we learned about the Oklahoma Sooners in spring game, as well as where the question marks still remain heading into the summer:

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Allen Kenney 

Bob StoopsWhat We Learned: Bob Stoops loves this team.

OU’s head coach was either replaced with an upbeat doppleganger this spring, or he decided that poor-mouthing his team in the preseason doesn’t get you any closer to winning national championships.

Usually at this time of year, Stoops is falling back on his standard coach shtick about “needing to get better every day” and “not paying attention to the media talk.” More so than in the past, though, Stoops is embracing all the title hype and doing nothing to diminish anyone’s expectations for his team. Hell, he’s been downright Spurrier-like.

Stoops wouldn’t be writing the checks if he didn’t believe this squad could cash them. Whether or not it works obviously remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that some of the confidence and swagger that has been missing the past few years for OU is back.

What We Didn’t: If the running game has improved.

This probably sounds like a broken record coming from anyone associated with this site, but OU fans can forget national championship if the Sooners can’t pound out some yards on the ground. Word coming out of Norman is that the offensive line has improved, but we’re forced to take that on faith. And can a committee approach in the backfield replicate the productivity of the most productive running back to ever don the Crimson and Cream?

We’ll find out fast in September.

Native State

Ryan BroylesWhat We Learned: OU has set-in-platinum MVPs.

Tough to glean anything really from a spring game, but what we know for sure is that Ryan Broyles and Landry Jones are untouchable and have absolutely nothing to prove. Zilch. No game-time situations needed. No work necessary – just take it easy, fellas. Broyles didn’t sniff a pass and Jones was out of dodge a tad bit slower than Brandon Wegher. Stoops also kept Ronnell Lewis out. Everybody else held out were banged up in some way.

What We Learned: OU is deep.

There may not be many future first-round draft picks on this team, but every time you look up, someone new is impressing.

Aaron Colvin has made a seamless transition from cornerback to strong safety. Linebacker Corey Nelson “must” get playing time. Gabe Lynn and Javon Harris are not having any problems stepping up in the secondary. Converted tackle Lane Johnson can “be special,” and if he doesn’t work for you, Daryl Williams and Josh Aladenoye are there.

It’s an embarrassment of riches and I won’t even mention running backs. Please chickens, hatch soon.

Brandon Williams
What We Didn’t
: If Brandon Williams will play significantly in 2011.

The freshman didn’t get many carries in the Red-White Game. When he did, he didn’t do much, except fumble. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, if you can’t hold on to the rock, Stoops will not play you.

He could improve in the summer and be a phenom, or he could redshirt, but we’re no closer to finding out since he signed in February.

JJ Worthington

What We Learned: The coaches finally have some confidence in the offensive line.

Bob Stoops went out of his way to compliment the progress of the o-line this spring, saying they looked much better at this point than last year.

Unfortunately, Jarvis Jones was injured, but he looks to be back sometime during the season. Lane Johnson, Josh Aladenoye and Daryl Williams were all singled out as new contributors and look to supplement a line that will finally have some experience and depth.

After the last few years, this is music to Sooner fans’ ears.

What We Learned: More than two receivers can catch.

Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills didn’t play much in the spring game, so it was up to the rest of the crew to prove they could contribute. Jaz Reynolds and Dejaun Miller – two players who were thought to be in danger of not playing this season – came on strong, looking healthy and explosive.

Along with Trey Franks, there should be plenty of options for Landry Jones to target.

Corey NelsonWhat We Didn’t: How OU will get all of its linebackers on the field.

Bob Stoops and Brent Venables went out of their way to praise the development of what was a relatively young defense, especially linebackers Corey Nelson and Jaydan Bird. Even with the move to more 3-4 sets, we’re going to see a logjam at linebacker in Norman this fall.

Nelson, Bird, Tom Wort, Austin Box, Travis Lewis and Ronnell “The Hammer” Lewis are all going to have to share some minutes. Nelson may even split some time with Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Tony Jefferson at the Royback.

Venables has an envious problem of figuring this puzzle out.

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