Back to Class, Back to Work
The Sooners resumed their normal in-season schedule on Monday afternoon in conjunction with the start of fall classes, working out for just over two hours on the fields adjacent to the Switzer Center.
Though many outside the confines of Owen Field remain focused on the heated quarterback competition between junior Blake Bell and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, head coach Bob Stoops stated that this week’s practices will be particularly crucial for every member of the team.
“For everybody, every day is important,” Stoops said following practice. “We’re still trying to polish a lot of things up. The guys are working hard.”
Senior tight end Brannon Green reiterated Stoops’ comments, saying that the week is key as he and his teammates work to see playing time on the field next weekend against Louisiana-Monroe.
“Every day is important, from day one to day 500,” Green said. “You have to come out every day and make plays, simple as that.”
Green (known by the moniker of Moose in the locker room) likely expressed the sentiments of many teammates when asked about his readiness for the season opener.
“I’ve been counting down the days on a calendar at home,” he grinned. “I’m ready to hit somebody else.”
Ikard Balances Success On and Off Field
Some people consider the off-season to be a break for OU football players, but center Gabe Ikard didn’t slow down during his time off the field. After a stellar junior campaign that saw the Oklahoma City native earn first-team All-Big 12 honors, Capital One Academic All-America accolades and an Academic All-Big 12 award, Ikard launched into the summer without missing a step.
The month of May was a particular whirlwind for Ikard, beginning with his graduation with a 4.0 grade-point average in May. Ikard then took off for a two-and-a-half week study abroad experience in Ireland (with a side junket to London), learning about sport and culture during his time overseas. Upon his return, Ikard jumped headfirst into the tornado relief efforts from storms impacting the state of Oklahoma during the month of May. Ikard was a fixture with the team’s relief work, aiding with projects such as loading cars with supplies at a Lowe’s in Moore alongside NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.
Now back with the team for his final season as a Sooner, Ikard is widely expected to be one of the nation’s top centers this season. In addition to appearing on watch lists for the Rimington Trophy, Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy, Ikard has also been named a preseason first team All-American by ESPN, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports. He will help anchor a prolific offensive attack that is poised to be one of the best in the Big 12 this season.
When asked if he’s anxious for Coach Stoops to name a starting quarterback so he won’t have to answer more questions about it, Ikard replied: “It will be the happiest day of my life.”
Stoops, Sooners Draw Closer to Naming QB
During an interview ESPN’s SportsCenter last Friday, Stoops stated that he hoped to name a starting quarterback sometime late this week. Following Monday’s practice, Stoops touched briefly on a timeline for releasing the name of his starter, stating that he wanted Bell and Knight to go several more practices this week before a decision would be made. He added that time would tell on how beneficial the competitive fall camp had been for both quarterbacks, as well as injured Kendal Thompson.
“They’re mentally tough guys that work hard, as is Kendal (Thompson),” Stoops said. “I’m confident Kendal will work his way back into being a guy we’ll really like as well, once he’s able to get back on the field.”
Ikard added that no matter who takes the field on August 31, the team will be ready to go around them.
“Both of those guys are battling hard for that job,” Ikard said. “When the decision is made, we’ll roll with it. No matter who it is, we’ll put a good 11 on the field and be ready to go.”
Sooners Hit the Books
Fall continued revving up for the Sooners on Monday, with semester classes kicking off on the University of Oklahoma campus. The OU football team adjusted their schedule accordingly, moving to a regular season routine with practices starting around 3:15 p.m. and concluding around 5:30 on the fields adjacent to the Switzer Center.
Nutritionist Byrd Earns Rave Reviews
Director of Sports Nutrition Tiffany Byrd continues to make an impact on OU student-athletes on the practice field and beyond. Sophomore offensive lineman Ty Darlington spoke about how Byrd’s assistance has been instrumental in helping several players, including himself, put and keep on weight in a healthy manner.
“Coach Tiff has been a big part of [adding and keeping weight],” Darlington said. “She’ll bring in shakes and little snacks and is always providing meals. She’s doing a great job. I think she’s really changed the game for us nutritionally and I think that’s been a big reason why we’ve been able to put on some weight.”
Sooner Sports TV Launches Premium Content Tier
Sooner Sports TV and FOX Sports continue to expand their digital media offerings, allowing OU fans to experience Oklahoma athletics like never before. On Monday, the duo announced a new premium subscription tier that will give fans access to full game replays for all sports, live coverage of games not available on TV, weekly coaches’ shows, an exclusive second screen experience for OU football games and live game audio for multiple sports.
Fans wishing to subscribe to the premium content package may do so on a monthly ($9.99), annual ($79.99) or three-year ($179.99) basis. More details on subscriptions are available at SoonerSports.com.As a reminder, Oklahoma’s season opening game vs. Louisiana-Monroe is available online for viewers outside the state of Oklahoma only. For a one-time pay-per-view subscription of $44.95 for the Aug. 31 game, fans will also receive three free months of access to all other SoonerSports.tv premium content.