Sooner practices going double time
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Sunday, March 28, 2010
3/28/10 at 7:25 AM
Related story: OU Notebook: Madu back at RB.
NORMAN — Oklahoma isn't wasting any time in trying to get back among college football's elite.
Not one second.
During spring football practice, the Sooners — 8-5 last season — are going double-time to get better. Front-line players are getting more snaps than they used to. Now, so are the backups.
In this case, more is better.
"I'm not sure how many reps they said we do, but I'm sure it's double what we've been doing in practice," wide receiver Ryan Broyles said.
The team basically is halved. Half the offensive unit is on one side of the field going against half the defensive unit. On the other side of the field, the other halves are going at it. And the pace is fast.
Bob Stoops and his coaching staff picked up the idea from their visits to Alabama last year. The Crimson Tide won the national championship, so why not give it a whirl?
"We coaches get together here and there, share ideas, and usually there are always different ways of looking at things and seeing things through someone else's eyes," Stoops said.
"We're getting a pretty good pace, yeah."
That's putting it mildly. College teams are allowed 15 practices each spring, but at this pace, it feels like more.
"It feels like it's 25 or 30 practices," said cornerback DeMontre Hurst. "It's tiring, but we've just got to gut it out and get better each time."
The idea is simple: Starters get to sharpen themselves like they normally would. Backups get to develop faster than they normally would. And where the starters and backups haven't been clarified yet, it makes for more competition.
That's especially helpful at positions like defensive tackle or cornerback, where new starters need to be identified from among a pack of young, inexperienced players.
Said new defensive backs coach Willie Martinez, "Instead of sitting on the sideline getting a 4-by-1 ratio — you know what I mean, this guy gets four, this guy gets one — well, now it's more equal."
Receivers coach Jay Norvell is another who needs to know what he has to work with.
"I think it's a great concept," Norvell said. "If you have the numbers, it really makes sense to do it because guys don't stand around and watch. The only way they really improve is by practicing and getting in situations and working their way through it. And I think we've had a great spring already.
"In just (a few) practices, kids have gotten more reps than they've ever gotten before, especially your backups, the young kids."
It also helps with conditioning. Sophomore defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland is trying to add bulk, but he's having a hard time because the practice pace never stops. And that's OK.
"You get a little break every now and then after a few snaps — 5, 6, 7, 8, something like that, you get a little break," he said. "But like you're in a game, you can't tell them, 'Hold on,' and get a break."
Sept. 4: Utah State
Sept. 11: Florida State
Sept. 18: Air Force
Sept. 25: at Cincinnati
Oct. 2: Texas
Oct. 16: Iowa State
Oct. 23: at Missouri
Oct. 30: Colorado
Nov. 6: at Texas A&M
Nov. 13: Texas Tech
Nov. 20: at Baylor
Nov. 27: at Oklahoma State
John E. Hoover 581-8384
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Landry Jones throws a pass during practice. John Clanton, The Oklahoman