It’s just a spring game. It’s just a spring game. It’s just a spring game...
So, you never want to go overboard after a team lets the world in for a souped-up scrimmage. I still came away from today’s Red-White Game feeling more enthusiastic about the state of affairs in Norman than I have in a while.
A handful of observations about the Sooners from Saturday:
*The defensive alignment matched up with what I figured. Mike Stoops retained the 3-4 personnel, but shifted the front into a one-gap under scheme.
*From a 10,000-foot view, the amount of athleticism on defense really stood out with players from the 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes stepping into more prominent roles.
It’s no secret that OU has seen a drop-off on that side of the ball in the last half decade or so. Bob Stoops clearly prioritized upgrading the personnel, and it finally started showing on Saturday.
*As an example, the buzz around cornerback Parnell Motley makes sense after seeing him in action today. OU’s receivers struggled getting separation against the sophomore corner, who made a handful of highlight-reel plays.
Once Jordan Parker returns from his current injury, he might have a hard time fending off his classmate.
*Neville Gallimore stands to take a big step forward in the new defensive scheme. He consistently penetrated the offensive line while working from the 3-technique defensive tackle spot.
Gallimore also pursued the ball extraordinarily well once it went outside the tackles.
*Amani Bledose might have some ground to make up when he gets back from suspension, but he needs to be on the field sooner than later. I mainly saw him lined up as a 3-tech, but I wonder if he could work his way into the mix at strongside defensive end.
*Now the glass-half-empty take: The top-line talent is there, but the depth appears to drop off quickly.
It’s glaring along the defensive line – landing Clemson graduate transfer Scott Pagano could certainly help there. It could be even worse at linebacker, where OU needs to Kenneth Murray to come along quickly. Lastly, I wouldn’t feel very comfortable if Kerry Cooks needs to go too far down the bench at any position in the backfield.
*Obviously, Kyler Murray was super sharp. He showcased his speed and elusiveness, as would be expected. More promising, he was throwing dimes from within the pocket. The arm strength didn't surprise me, but I never saw that type of throw-after-throw accuracy from him.
I'd maintain a healthy level of skepticism about whether or not Murray can keep it up when the bullets are live. If he can, he'll have a decent shot at winning the starting gig in 2018. In fact, I'd argue that there's already a strong case for working him into the offense somehow now.
*I’d need to go back and look at the offensive line, but nothing negative stuck out.
*I didn’t see a superstar running back on the field Saturday, but the three scholarship guys who were out there all seemed capable of contributing. (Of course, that might say something about the run defense - spring games being a double-edged sword and whatnot.)
Assuming Rodney Anderson is a go this fall, I’m expecting Trey Sermon to end up in line for a redshirt.
*Speaking of redshirts, will Grant Calcaterra play this fall? It would appear so, given how much run he got with the starting unit. I thought there was a chance he would sit for a year with the tight ends and fullbacks on already on the roster.
*As for the rest of the receivers:
- I don’t doubt that Jeffery Mead’s performance will lead to more talk that he’s ready to be the man.
- Dahu Green’s will not.
- Definitely keep an eye on Mykel Jones – he didn’t get many touches today, but he looked smooth when he did have the ball in his hands.