White Team Edges Red in Annual Spring Game
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NORMAN — Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops said he was "really pleased" with the overall play during Saturday's annual Spring Game, but what pleased him most was his team's overall health.
"Nobody's seriously hurt whatsoever," Stoops said afterward. "I thought there was good execution and we met all assignments. Guys played hard, played well. I'm just really pleased. We got (in) right what we'd hoped for ... right around 90 (plays) pretty close, and that's what we were shooting for."
The White team edged the Red team 14-13 on an 80-degree afternoon before an announced crowd of 43,723 at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Baker Mayfield completed 11-of-20 passes for 99 yards, while redshirt sophomore Kyler Murray completed 9-of-13 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown — a 70-yard connection with senior wide receiver Jeffery Mead in the second quarter — and had another potential touchdown pass was dropped.
Freshman quarterback Chris Robison completed 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards while sophomore Austin Kendall completed 2-of-4 passes for 47 yards. Running back Abdul Adams had the catch of the day with a 34-yard reception.
Passing was hampered by steady gusts of 20 mile-per-hour winds throughout the game.
"By position, I liked what the quarterbacks did, overall," Stoops said. "(They) had smart play, took care of the ball, good throws. It was a windy day. It's tough to get the receivers a little bit of a break because the ball's getting blown all over on a few occasions."
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops thought his unit "looked OK" while keeping their base schemes simple. "I still think it was to our benefit obviously playing in these types of atmospheres and situations," he said. "It was good to see our guys come out. We need guys to step up and be playmakers. You are not going to see success defensively if you do not have playmakers."
The defense was without senior standouts Steven Parker at safety and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo at outside linebacker.
"We are headed in the right direction but still have a lot of work to do," Mike Stoops said. "We are trying to be a more physical, explosive defense, but as a group our physicality and ability to tackle in space are as good as they needed to be a year ago. So we need more things to put our players in that place and be more prepared."
The day's lone interception came from sophomore cornerback Parnell Motley, who picked off Mayfield's long pass intended for Marquise Brown. "He had some great plays," Mike Stoops said of Motley. "Coming in there making plays against Baker show his positive steps. I am sure he wants to start too so it is his opportunity and he made the most of his chances tonight."
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The Sooners have five practices remaining in the spring — three this upcoming week and two the following week.
Asked where he thought his team stood overall heading into the summer, Bob Stoops said, "I love it. I think we've got a lot of experience back. What I really try to focus on this time of year is developing more depth, more players that can play at a championship level and the mental responsibilities along with the physical play that it takes, and the ability of more of those guys. Of course, these are the guys that are returning to focus on making improvement.
"I love the team ... I love where we're at, keeping guys healthy, and I think we're progressing in a really positive way."
IN AWE OF "A.D."
Junior running back Marcelias Sutton, a transfer from Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa., scored the game's first touchdown on a 6-yard run for the White team and finished with 63 yards rushing on 10 carries.
But the highlight of his day came on the field afterward when he got to meet seven-time NFL Pro Bowl running back and former OU great Adrian Peterson.
"I'm from a small town with one stoplight," said Sutton, who hails from La Grange, N.C. (pop. 2,848). "So meeting Adrian Peterson was like the highlight of my life."
Asked about Peterson's famously firm handshake, Sutton smiled and said, "It was crazy. I felt like I broke my hand. I had to walk away for a minute."
An early signee with the Sooners, the soft-spoken Sutton admitted he didn't know exactly how to react when he heard the crowd of 43,723 roar when he scored his touchdown.
"It's all I expected and more," said Sutton, who signed with North Carolina State coming out James Kenan High School before attending Lackawanna, where he earned honorable mention NJCAA All-America honors last season.
REPLACING THE STARS
The OU offense has some gaping holes to fill with the departures of pending NFL draft picks Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon at running back and wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Saturday's scrimmage showed there are multiple candidates at running back with sophomore Abdul Adams (25 yards on six carries), redshirt sophomore Rodney Anderson, freshman Trey Sermon (a game-high 73 yards rushing on 13 carries) and Sutton.
"We have a lot of depth. It's not just two or three guys this year," Mayfield said. "We really have a lot of guys."
Mead led all receivers with 111 yards on three catches, while junior wide receiver Dahu Green and freshman tight end Grant Calcaterra also had three receptions.
"I think it's more spread evenly," Mayfield said of this year's receiving corps. "I would've said it was spread evenly at this point last year, too, so you never know. We'll continue to figure out what type of offense we're going to be, and come fall camp we'll see if we have a go-to guy or if we'll be a more balanced team."
BACKING THE BACKUPS
Asked in particular about the performances of Murray and Kendall, Stoops said, "I thought they looked good. They didn't put the ball in harm's way. They were smart and went through their reads, I thought, in a really good way. I thought they made some nice plays where they threw to people open. They've both got all the arms to make all the throws. They're doing a good job."
Stoops also said there is no rush to pick Mayfield's backup. "That would be up to Coach (offensive coordinator Lincoln) Riley, but I would imagine ... there's too much that's going to happen this summer, all through two-a-days, for us to do that now. I don't see why we would," Stoops said.
As a two-sport standout, the athletic Murray could qualify as a candidate at several skilled positions. Kendall also is athletic, but Riley narrowed the possibilities after Saturday's scrimmage.
"Those guys are going to be quarterbacks first and foremost," Riley said of Murray and Kendall. "That's what they are, that's what they came here to do. Now, if a situation presented itself and a guy could help us make a play to win a game, would we do it? Of course we would, but we're not going to put Kyler Murray in at wide receiver in a game for 20 snaps next year. That's not going to happen."
Murray, who started in left field and hit lead-off for the OU baseball team in a 5-3 loss at Texas on Friday night, flew back to Norman on Saturday morning and missed Game 2 of the three-game series, which started at 4 p.m. Saturday. Murray flew back to Austin two hours after the Spring Game and will be available for the series finale, which is at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
VANILLA IS SERVED
Riley didn't reveal much in terms of creativity, as is always the case in the Spring Game.
"I think that there were a lot of positives," Riley said. "A lot of our young guys did some really good things. We had some inconsistencies at times, we missed some throws, which the conditions were a part of that. We were really, really, really vanilla which is something we decided to do with so many young guys. There's going to be a lot of competition. We were missing two or three guys today who were out for various reasons and obviously we are getting ready to add two or three more guys here in June, so the competition level is going to go up."
Mayfield said he wasn't particularly pleased with his performance, which included the lone interception of the day by Motley, but he was pleased with his teammates' play overall.
"I needed to execute better," Mayfield said. "I think everybody else had a good game. I think we ran the ball well, even though we didn't do it much. Just have to translate it from the practice field to the game situation. I think the defense played well. I continue to get higher respect for Parnell Motley. He's making a lot of plays right now. The defense is looking good and the linebackers are playing well."
Mayfield on Murray and Kendall: "They're two completely different players. I think you could run two different types of stuff when they're in. Kyler played well. I think he gave his guys a really good chance for the ball and put it in a good spot, and he's obviously pretty fast so he was running around making plays. Austin played well I think. Nothing too special, but I think he played well."