Practice Report: Oklahoma
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer And Matt Franklin, World Correspondent
Friday, August 14, 2009
8/14/09 at 5:22 AM
It was expected to be among Oklahoma's most competitive positions in camp, with the return of three starters — Jeremy Beal, Auston English and Frank Alexander. That's exactly how it's shaping up, with the added bonus of the emergence of a freshman.
"It's still really a battle for the first three guys, with Frank coming on and playing well," defensive ends coach Chris Wilson said, "as well as R.J."
That's R.J. Washington, a redshirt freshman who was rated the nation's No. 2 prep defensive end at Fort Worth Keller Fossil Ridge. The past year, you heard more about Washington's classmate David King at D-end, but the light appears to be coming on for Washington.
Meanwhile, the light's still on for Beal, the All-Big 12 Conference junior who led the Sooners with 8 1/2 sacks last year.
"Right now the guy that's standing out as much as anybody is Jeremy Beal," Wilson said. "He's playing really smart. If there was one guy I could truly name at this point as a starter, it would be him. Auston is still competing right now, and Frank is competing for a starting job. The competition is really stiff."
News and notes
Open says me: Coach Bob Stoops opened the first hour of Thursday evening's practice to fans and media, giving everyone a chance to see Sam Bradford throw the football for the first time since the Red/White Game last April. His 40-yard lob found Adron Tennell when the senior wide receiver went over cornerback Brian Jackson, drawing a loud ovation from the estimated 500 fans who came out to watch.
Bradford's second pass was much shorter, about a 10-yard whip to Cameron Kenney, which was interesting in that Kenney, a junior college transfer, started the three-wide receiver drill along with Tennell and Ryan Broyles.
In another lineup development, sophomore Stephen Good was the center of a first offensive line that also featured tackles Trent Williams and Cory Brandon and guards Jarvis Jones and Brian Simmons. Williams, who has moved from right to left tackle since last season, was the second center in team drills.
On defense, middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds wore pads but gave way to Mike Balogun in the team drill.
The Sooners are being careful with Reynolds, coming off his third knee surgery, as well as running back DeMarco Murray, who worked out without pads.
Incumbent kicker Jimmy Stevens went 5-for-5 in the field goal portion of practice, converting from 50 and 52 yards out.
"You can't just cheer for Sam," Stoops teased fans while encouraging them to applaud Stevens' 50-yarder.
Redshirt freshman Tress Way followed Stevens during the field goal drill, hitting 3-of-5, and split punting duties with Kenney.
Defensive trio recognized: Beal is one of three Sooners, along with Travis Lewis and Gerald McCoy, who made the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award presented annually to the nation's top defensive player.
Lewis, OU's starting weakside linebacker, was the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2008 after breaking Brian Bosworth's school record for tackles by a freshman with 144. McCoy, a starting defensive tackle, was a Sporting News first-team All-American last season after registering 6 1/2 sacks.
Semifinalists for the Bednarik will be announced Nov. 4, with three finalists making the cut Nov. 23. The only Sooner to have won the award is linebacker Teddy Lehman in 2003.
Two years ago, tight end was a pivotal position for the Longhorns in their Red River battle with OU. Jermichael Finley made four catches for a Texas single-game record 149 yards and a touchdown in a 28-21 loss to the Sooners.
Last year, the Horns routinely used four wide receivers and no tight ends in a 45-35 victory. When Oct. 17 rolls around, look for more of 2008 than '07 in Greg Davis' playbook.
Blaine Irby, Texas' projected starting tight end, was already out for the season with a knee injury sustained last year.
Wednesday night, the Horns lost another tight end to a knee injury when converted wide receiver D.J. Grant went down in practice. A redshirt freshman, Grant was rated by ESPN as the No. 16 overall high school prospect coming out of Austin.
Aug. 17: Open practice, 6-7 p.m., OU Rugby Fields west of the Lloyd Noble Center
Aug. 24: First day of classes
Sept. 1: Next Bob Stoops press conference
Sept. 5: OU vs. BYU, 6 p.m., Cowboys Stadium, Dallas
Sept. 5: BYU (Arlington, Texas)
Sept. 12: Idaho State TBA
Sept. 19: Tulsa
Oct. 3: at Miami TBA
Oct. 10: Baylor TBA
Oct. 17: Texas (at Dallas)
Oct. 24: at Kansas TBA
Oct. 31: Kansas State TBA
Nov. 7: at Nebraska TBA
Nov. 14: Texas A&M TBA
Nov. 21: at Texas Tech TBA
Nov. 28: Oklahoma State TBA
Dec. 5: Big 12 Championship
Sam Bradford eyes a receiver during the Red-White game in April. On Thursday, fans got a chance to watch Bradford and Adron Tennell hook up for 40 yards. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file