In his quest to make Oklahoma football even less fan-friendly, the Sooners have been going through a spring practice blackout again this year, per dictum of coach Bob Stoops. Stoops did pass out a few scraps to hungry fans this weekend via some video highlights of Saturday's scrimmage at Owen Field – about 10 minutes worth, to be exact.
Honestly, you can't tell that much from the tape, which is shot from behind the backfield at such a tight angle that you're only seeing half the play most of the time. However, seeing as we have to take what we can get, I went through the footage and took a few notes.
So take all of these observations and impressions with some huge salt grains and the understanding that they are based on about 10 minutes of amateur clips from inside OU's shop.
*Three players pretty clearly stood out above everyone else:
- Sophomore quarterback Blake Bell looked outstanding. Fans haven't really had a chance to see much of Bell running OU's true offense, but he certainly stood out in this case. Bell definitely carries himself with a preternatural sense of confidence and composure. His ability to make plays scrambling is something the Sooners haven't had under center in forever, and he showed some nice touch and accuracy throwing the ball. Hopefully, offensive coordinator Josh Heupel will find a way to work Bell into the offense outside of the Belldozer package. If that is what the coaching staff is witnessing every day, I have no doubt Bell will be the Sooners' No. 2 QB come the fall and the starter of the future.
- Kenny Stills was playing possessed. After struggling through an injury-filled 2011 season, plenty of Sooner fans seemingly have some doubts as to whether he'll fulfill the potential he displayed as a freshman. He absolutely looked to be on the right track in that footage. He snagged anything in his vicinity.
- Defensively, linebacker Jaydan Bird made the biggest impression on me. He displayed good recognition and tenacity in pursuit of ballcarriers. Given that Tom Wort is a two-year starter, most have already penciled him in at the MIKE position. With defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and linebackers coach Tim Kish taking a fresh look at the D, maybe Bird will get the opportunity to work his way onto the field. He definitely looks like a potentially superb run-stopper.
*Didn't see much from the running game. Fullback Trey Millard actually seemed to run the hardest of anyone who carried the ball. Brennan Clay didn't really get that many reps, and most of what involved Roy Finch happened in the passing game.
Dimunitive Danzel Williams is intriguing, but he's pretty much Finch 2.0. He did have an awfully strong run out of a stretch call to the left side on Video 3 in which he squirted through a hole created by a nice seal block from Tyrus Thompson.
*Speaking of Thompson, I actually thought he came off best among the offensive tackles. Massive Derek Farniok still has plenty of learning left to do, as witnessed by the his failure to pick up a blitzing Corey Nelson coming off the edge near the end of Video 2. Dylan Dismuke looked like a major work in progress, too.
Still have concerns about the offensive line.
*From what I saw, third-year sophomore Chuka Ndulue is coming on at defensive end – great athleticism and displayed some nice hustle in backside pursuit. First-string senior David King was pretty disruptive, too.
*Clearly, the highlight play of the day was Trey Metoyer's one-handed grab on a fade route from Landry Jones down the left sideline that he took to the house (Video 3). Metoyer didn't get many looks otherwise, but that was sensational. He did demonstrate some decent downfield blocking in a couple instances.
Count on him as a starter from the jump.
*Quentin Hayes made a fair number of solid plays on defense, including a couple nice stops in the backfield. I haven't heard much about Hayes this spring, but he has decent striking ability and could find himself in the mix as a nickelback or back-up corner.