Stoops calls OU's spring game 'good day'
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Sunday, April 15, 2012
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NORMAN - Saturday's Red/White Game had some unexpected moments.
For one, it was played. What forecasters had called "life-threatening" weather never even approached Oklahoma until well after dark, although some tornado damage from Friday's storm was strikingly bad throughout Norman.
Second, senior quarterback Landry Jones was almost nowhere to be found, getting the afternoon off after one solid series. Instead, all eyes were on burgeoning star Blake Bell, who completed 14-of-19 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, backup Drew Allen and even precocious rally master Kendal Thompson, who brought the offense (wearing white) from behind in a 22-21 victory over the defense (red).
One aspect of OU's last day of spring practice - a 105-play full-contact scrimmage - that many did see coming, though, was the emergence of freshman wide receiver Trey Metoyer.
Metoyer led all players with six catches for 72 yards. While starters Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds were still struggling with dropped passes, Metoyer snared everything thrown in his direction, including a 28-yard catch-and-run that was well over his head.
"He's just got incredible hands, ability to make plays, a knack for adjusting to the football - all the things you see - he can run," Stoops said. "And he really relishes the moment. He's a competitor for a young guy."
Metoyer, who signed with OU in 2011 but had to go to prep school last fall, said he didn't feel any period of adjustment as a freshman.
"I talk to my parents, my dad - me and him stay in contact a lot - and he tells me to go out there and don't play like a freshman," Metoyer said. "If I mess up, I don't use that as an excuse. I want to be just like everybody else."
"Yeah," Stoops agreed, "he's not like a normal freshman."
With starters against starters and backups against backups, the offense didn't commit any turnovers, the defense gave up just two touchdowns and three field goals, and only Joe Ibiloye, with what Stoops termed a mild shoulder problem, suffered an injury.
"Overall," Stoops said, "it was a good day."
Most of the 20,509 who bought tickets (actual attendance was closer to 10,000) thought so too.
Bell, the sophomore who rushed for 13 touchdowns last season as the Sooners' first and only short-yardage running threat, may have moved past Allen (10-of-18 for 72 yards) as Jones' backup (and eventual replacement). But Stoops said he's not interested in naming a backup, and quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel said anything fans might read from Saturday would be oversimplified.
"It's a body of work," Heupel said. "It's not just one afternoon."
On his first possession, Bell escaped pressure in the pocket, rolled to his right and zipped a perfect 40-yard throw to Reynolds, who caught the ball behind Javon Harris and scored untouched with a 60-yard touchdown. Bell's 28-yarder to Metoyer came after he rolled to his left. Bell's ability to throw while also being a running threat is a dimension the Sooners haven't had.
"I don't want to get out of the pocket unless I have to. I would love to sit back there," Bell said. "But ... if I'm getting pressure or a blitz, I will get out and see what we can make happen."
Huepel said he doesn't coach Bell to scramble, but rather coaches him about what to do when he scrambles.
"You coach guys on going through their reads, the things that you want them to be decisive about inside the pocket," Heupel said. "But when things break down and they're not there, then you let them use their natural abilities."
That also describes what Thompson did at the end. The fourth-string son of former OU wishbone ace Charles Thompson showed he can run, he can pass and he can produce plays in the clutch.
The scoring system Stoops employed Saturday awarded the defense a variety of points based on sacks, turnovers or three-and-outs.
Going into the final two minutes, the defense held a 21-15 lead. But Thompson, working with backup offensive players against backup defensive players, led a nine-play, 80-yard march that ended with his short touchdown throw to running back Danzel Williams for a 22-21 lead with 31 seconds left.
Original Print Headline: Sooner success
John E. Hoover 918-581-8384
Receiver Trey Metoyer led all players with six catches for 72 yards in Oklahoma's Red/White game on Saturday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Quarterback Blake Bell completed 14-of-19 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Fans get autographs from OU quarterback Landry Jones after the OU Red/White game on Saturday in Norman. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Receiver Jaz Reynolds dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring a touchdown on Saturday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World