Younger Sooners get chance to develop during bowl practice
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Sunday, December 09, 2012
12/09/12 at 6:34 AM
NORMAN - Oklahoma's football program typically gains ground in December.
Bowl preparation isn't the Sooners' only focus. The 15 extra practices will strengthen the team's depth and mature younger players who don't get as much work in-season.
"There's no question," OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "We use this last month in bowl preparation to help our young guys get better."
OU will practice a little before the Christmas break before settling on structured workouts focused on Texas A&M, the Sooners' opponent in the Jan. 4 Cotton Bowl.
The early practices will be an opportunity for the younger underclassmen to get more repetitions under the watchful eyes of coaches.
"It's huge," Sooners co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "It's huge in their development. They need to take advantage of this opportunity, no matter if you are a skill guy or a lineman.
"This is another opportunity for another spring ball."
Senior Stacy McGee remembers when he was one of those young players.
"This is always important because no one can come in mentally and physically ready to play," McGee said. "They get all they can when they can."
Norvell pointed out two offensive spots that he will be watching closely.
"It's an important time for our young quarterbacks," he said. "The Blake Bells, Kendal Thompsons and Trevor Knights ... they get another month to practice and we have to get better.
"Landry (Jones) isn't going to be here forever."
The majority of wide receiver catches have been by Oklahoma's older players - senior Justin Brown and juniors Kenny Stills and Jalen Saunders. Norvell is looking forward to challenging his freshman class.
"We have a bunch of younger players, Sterling Shepard, Trey Metoyer and Durron Neal," Norvell said. "They'll have another month to prepare and get stronger."
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops wasn't asked specifically about the defensive line position, but there's little doubt it'll be a spot watched closely.
"Hopefully we can get some of our younger guys good work," Stoops said.
Vs. Texas A&M
At Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
7 p.m. Jan. 4
Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Original Print Headline: Time now for younger Sooners to develop
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said backup quarterback Blake Bell (above) will be among the players to benefit from the extra practices before the Sooners play in the Cotton Bowl. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World file