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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Linking Up: Sooners' Kids Are Alright

OU freshman wide receiver Kenny Stills must have missed Bob Stoops' memo about talking to the media.

The OU coach's overprotectiveness of newcomers is renowned among OU fans and media. Most notably, he never deviates from his policy that no Sooner player can do an interview until he has actually played a down in a live game. That has been the case for Tommie Harris, Adrian Peterson – you name it.

So, how else to explain this interview Friday with Stills from Oklahoma Rivals affiliate SoonerScoop.com ($) other than that he must not have known the drill?

But, hold on, there was Stoops on Thursday night at an OU Caravan event touting this year's crop of rookies as possibly the best class he has brought to Norman.

What is going on in Norman? Could Stoops' notorious stubborness when it comes to youngsters really be softening?

This is the part where I tell you that the Sooners' crafty coach is playing head games in an effort to light a fire under the upperclassmen, right?

Not this time. Something really is different.

Among the key ingredients missing from OU's 2009 were big-play threats, especially on offense. For instance, according to cfbstats.com, the Sooners suffered a substantial drop-off in pass plays of 25 yards or more from 2008, when they led the nation with 53, to 33 last season. The number of running plays covering 20-plus yards fell from 20 in '08 to seven in '09.

Note that most of the names being bandied about for early run – Stills, Tony Jefferson, Roy Finch – are athletic, make-it-happen-type guys playing skill positions. My hunch is that Stoops and coordinators Kevin Wilson and Brent Venables are searching for an infusion of explosiveness on both sides of the ball, and they're looking to the freshman class to deliver that.

Other notes from the start of spring practice at OU and across the country:

*Stoops and Wilson continue to talk up the need for better offensive balance. Keep an eye on the distribution of plays in the opener against Utah State. The Aggies probably won't put up much of a fight against Oklahoma's O, but the ratio of runs to passes should give an indication of of how committed OU really is.

*I nearly chundered after reading Adrian Taylor re-live that awful leg injury in the Sun Bowl last season ($). I still haven't watched a replay since it happened, so I can't believe he's willing to talk about it.

*Now, I don't want to cause any alarm here, but how come Justin Chaisson isn't pictured with the other defensive tackles in the media day photo?

*Unless Landry Jones suffers some kind of catastrophic injury, frosh QB Blake Bell won't see the field this season. Don't buy that line.

*How much respect do people give Phil Steele? Back in the spring, the general consensus seemed to be that the Sooners would probably fall somewhere around 12 to 15 in the preseason polls. Lo and behold, OU is No. 8 in the USA Today preseason poll. I have to think The Animal's controversial pick for national champ had something to do with that.

*Other knee-jerk reactions to the coaches' poll: (Let's assume the voters are voting on perceived team strength, rather than predicting how the season plays out.)

  • Pretty rare for teams like Florida and Texas to sustain the kind of losses that they did this year and not take a step back.
  • I actually figured Boise State would start around No. 3.
  • Where would USC start? Maybe No. 8?
  • No love for Cincinnati in the post-Brian Kelly era.
  • How far has the Georgia Bulldogs' star fallen? Two years ago, UGa started the season as the preseason No. 1.

*Homerism's buddies over at Mountain West Connection astutely point out that the bookies have a far different take on Pittsburgh and Utah than the pollsters.

*Don Banks of SI.com heaps praise on Sam Bradford after visiting St. Louis Rams training camp.

*Sherrod Harris' departure leaves the Longhorns with a razor-thin margin for error at quarterback. If sophomore Garrett Gilbert can stay healthy, it matters little. He goes down, though, and that leaves the job in the hands of either Connor Wood or Case McCoy, both true freshmen.

*Man, even months after leaving for the west coast, Lane Kiffin is the gift that keeps on giving for the media in SEC country. Think new USC athletic director Pat Haden will give him much rope? Me neither. Don't be shocked if Haden decides to cut ties sooner than later to erase all vestiges of the previous regime in Troy.

*In case you missed it, the completely unofficial campaign behind the People's Choice for Heisman, Navy QB Ricky Dobbs, is picking up steam. CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel wrote a fantastic article this week touting Dobbs' candidacy. Also, our friends at In The Bleachers and D1scourse, talked about Dobbs in a podcast this week covering the opening of Navy's fall camp.

(Follow the People's Choice for Heisman on Twitter at @DobbsForHeisman.)