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OU football - spring practice update

Bob Stoops doesn't exactly have a reputation for being very open with the media, so anytime something relevant comes out during spring practice it's our duty to bring it to you.  The team is a little over halfway through spring practice andwill have their second (and again closed to the public) scrimmage this coming Saturday.  As discussed in an earlier post, OU has adjusted how they run practices which has allowed for everyone to get more practice reps andprovided the coaches witha much larger sample of plays with which to evaluate where everyone stands.

Check out some of the latest info after the jump.

We'll go ahead and get the bad news out of the way first.  OL/TE Eric Mensikis currently not practicing with the team due to a MCL injury.  According to Stoops, he will not have surgery and will allow what is being reported as a small tear to heal on its own.  Again according to Stoops, the recovery time without surgery is 6-8 weeks and they have no reason to expect he won't be ready when fall practices start.  Mensikwas competing with Cory Brandon for the starting RT spot (and according to Kevin Wilson was leading that competition before the injury), but was more likely to be a primary backup on the OL and see time at TE in jumbo formations.  Now, losing a backup OL/TE isn't really a tragedy but after all the injuries along the line last year this certainly is not how we want to start 2010. 

Speaking of the OL, Kevin Wilson spent a little time talking about how the line has progressed so far and compared where they are now compared to this time last year.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said it has been pleasing to see the line improve in its understanding and follow through of the blocking schemes.

"As far as understanding concepts and issues," Wilson said, "it’s better right now than it was anytime last season."

Wilson admits he won’t have a blocker this year as good as Trent Williams. But while last year’s 3 top linemen (Williams, Brian Simmons, Brody Eldridge) will probably be better than this year’s top three linemen, Wilson believes his 8-9 top guys will be an improvement over what he had last year.

"The core and the depth is significantly better", Wilson said.

Now this is certainly a far cry from the Kevin Wilson of last year proclaiming that Trent Williams was the best lineman in the history of football and that Brody Eldridge was going to be the best center in the history of OU football.  So forgive me Kev if I need to see some actual game action before I go ahead and take you at your word.

Another OL tidbit, center Ben Habern has made a much quicker than expected recovery from a broken leg and torn ligaments he suffered late last season in the Tech game.  Doctors had originally told him that he would have "no chance" of participating in spring ball and that he still might not be ready to go this summer.  However, he has returned to practice and is even optimistic about the coaches letting him participate in the upcoming spring game (April 17th).  Something I was unaware of, rumors of a possible move to the guard position, were dismissed by Habern who reported that 100% of his snaps this spring have come at the center position.

Here's some quick hitters:

 - The Hammer (Ronnell Lewis for the two people out there who are unfamiliar) is reportedly working at the SAM (strong side) LB spot.  However Stoops did say that he could move down to DE in some of OU's 3-4 formations they utilize on second/third and long distance.  I don't know about you, but the idea of The Hammer lining up at DE should give every Big 12 QB nightmares next year.  The starters at LB currently are: Travis Lewis WLB, Tom Wort MLB, and RonnellLewis SLB.

 - Jeremy Beal and Frank Alexander, as expected, are fully entrenched as the starters at DE.  Expectations, at least from Sooner fans I know, are that they should be the top duo at DE in the Big 12 this season.

"They’re very solid, very good," coach Bob Stoops said. "But there’s always room for improvement and they’re making it through. Frank, in some little areas discipline wise in technique can make some strides. And he is. He’s working on it. But they’re doing well."

  - Coach Stoops also addressed the move of Mossis Madu back to RB

"He definitely has to be a major contributor and factor for us," Stoops said. "Mossis is quicker and faster right now. He’s trimmed some weight and he really looks good. He’s got a little more of his shake back and is doing well."

Madu and Jermie Calhoun continue to get nearly all the snaps this spring as the coaches are allowing DeMarco Murray to work in where needed.  From the sound of things, it's going to be a very tough competition for the backup RB and given Murray's injury history (reverse jinx) that could be a very important role this coming season.  They'll both get snaps regardless of Murray's health, but the difference between 2nd and 3rd string will be significant.

 - Early enrollee WR Sheldon McClain, who is coming off an ACL injury he suffered his senior year in high school, is now 100% and has been cleared for contact.  He's still very likely to redshirt in 2010, but now that he's been cleared he'll definitely get a chance in these remaining practices to try and convince the coaches otherwise.

 - And finally on a somewhat random note, I assume most of you are aware that throughout the spring coaches from other schools across the country will typically travel to observe other programs and how they run things.  For instance, Boise St. coach Chris Petersen was recently in Norman to check things out.  Well according to Stoops, former Texas Tech coach and pirate aficionado Mike Leach is scheduled to visit late this week.  Why exactly is anybody's guess, I mean I know he coached at OU (one year) andhe's still friends with a lot of the OU staff but I'm not sure I see the reasoning behind it otherwise.  I'm really resisting the urge to make a crack about him being in town to check out how his pirate collectibles would look in Kevin Wilson's office, oops oh well.

Anyway, that's the latest and as always as soon as we know something so will you.