Practice continues in Norman for the fast approaching football season. There has been a fair amount of information about these practices and the team, so I'll try and condense that in a short briefing here for you.
Stoops' Surprising Players (link)
Bob Stoops had high praise for Chris Brown, Frank Alexander, Auston English, Quinton Carter and Tom Wort, saying that all of these players are unheralded but have a big impact, or the potential to make a big impact. Apparently, Quinton Carter would have started last season had he not pulled a hamstring. And of Tom Wort, Stoops said:
"Tom Wort is going to be pretty special, if not this year, then awfully soon," Stoops said.
Wide Receiver Question Mark
It's hard to say who will be starting at wide receiver for the Sooners when they open up against BYU. It's pretty safe to say that Ryan Broyles has one of the spots locked up. The Sooners employ three wide receiver sets a lot, which leaves two more spots open. Junior college transfer Cameron Kenney has started with the first unit in both of the open practices in 11-on-11 drills. Apparently he has made quite a few plays. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a shot. The other front runners appear to be Adron Tennell and Mossis Madu, the latter of whom was converted from running back this summer.
The Center of the Problem
Center is obviously a position of concern with the top two people on the depth chart suffering injuries a couple of days into practice. The Sooners have been rotating a bunch of other people into the center position at practice in the meantime, in order to have "emergency plans". The list of emergency centers include Trent Williams, Stephen Good and even Brody Eldridge who has been commonly referred to as the "team's best blocker".
The good news is that it looks like the injured centers are on their way back. From the Oklahoman:
Habern, who has participated in some contact drills, has shown gradual improvement since sustaining the injury and doesn’t appear to be too far away from being cleared all the way for practice. When that happens, Patton said Eldridge will move back to tight end, where his blocking acumen is so valuable.
And from the Monday practice report from the Tulsa World:
Ben Habern, competing to replace Jon Cooper at center while battling a strained back, took part in a one-on-one blocking drill. He drove defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger several steps backward after one snap.
Defensive Depth Chart
Here is how the defensive depth chart is shaping up, according to Jake Trotter at the Oklahoman, who watched the open practices:
At the moment, the first-team defense looks like this:
DL: Jeremy Beal, Adrian Taylor, GK McCoy, Auston English
LB: Travis Lewis, Ryan Reynolds, Keenan Clayton
DB: Brian Jackson, Dom Franks, Sam Proctor, Quinton Carter
The second-team defense look like this
DL: RJ Washington, Casey Walker, Cordero Moore, Frank Alexander
LB: Daniel Franklin, Tom Wort, Austin Box
DB: Demontre Hurst, Marcus Trice, Emmanuel Jones, Lamar Harris
No real surprises on the first team. Daniel Franklin has edged out JR Bryant at linebacker, but no significant news on the second team either. The defense is projected to be improved from last year, and they have a ton of talent two-to-three deep on their depth chart.
Bradford Still Sharp
From all accounts, it seems like Sam Bradford has benefitted from another summer of conditioning, learning the system, and practicing. I haven't heard anything negative about Bradford, and most everything has been strongly positive.
BYU Injury Problems
The Sooners' first opponent - BYU Cougars - have had their share of injury problems. Starting QB, and one of the biggest stars on their football team, Max Hall dislocated his finger in a scrimmage on Monday. Max told reporters that his finger was fine, but it is still something to take note of.
Like the Sooners, BYU also only returns one starter on the offensive line. The only returning starter (LT Matt Reynolds) had to have surgery on his left hand and his status is questionable for the OU-BYU game. To top it off, BYU also lost the odds-on-favorite at their left guard spot for the season with a shoulder injury.
This means that BYU could be short handed on Max Hall's blindside for their season opener against OU.