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The Hurry-Up: Volume 2

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

NORMAN — The Sooners are the middle of week three of fall camp. OU recently completed its first camp scrimmage Monday as it continues to build toward the season opener versus Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1. Assistant defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks, junior defensive end Amani Bledsoe, redshirt junior offensive lineman Cody Ford and sophomore running back Trey Sermon gave thoughts on what they've seen so far through 11 practices in the second installment of "The Hurry-Up."

Assistant Coach Kerry Cooks

We're two-and-a-half weeks from the season-opening game. What's your assessment of the secondary right now?

"I really like how they're competing. I think everybody out there is understanding that there are some opportunities out there at a variety of positions. Guys are going out focused, practicing hard, competing, communicating. I think the thing right now is that we've just got to become a little more consistent each day. But I do believe the guys are trying to find a way to get better at something each day, and I like the progress and the versatility of some of the guys we've got back there."

What have you been preaching the most during the camp?

"I think for us it's the little details. The kids get the big-picture concepts of what the defense is. But once you get the (defensive) call, can you take the proper alignment, can you take the proper stance, do you understand where your key is and do you know what your responsibility is once that key moves. So those are the things I'm preaching right now on every play. That's how you become a dominant player, that's how you become a consistent player. That's how you learn how to play fast."

How are returning starters Parnell Motley and Tre Norwood doing at corner, and is anyone giving them a run for their money?

"In my mind, Parnell's had one of the better camps from a defensive standpoint overall, not just among secondary players. He's a lot more comfortable in what he's doing and he's made a ton of plays. Norwood is Mr. Consistent; he's solid. He's not a rah-rah guy, so if you don't really understand how important it is to have great cornerback play you may not notice him. But I notice him because he's not giving up a lot of plays. And I would say that Tre Brown is right in there. I would feel very comfortable if I had to play Tre Brown. I feel very comfortable rotating those three guys, and I think Tre Brown has earned that. Miguel Edwards is a fish out of water right now just because he's a freshman. But he's competitive, competitive, competitive, and I think once it clicks for him he's going to really have a chance to challenge those guys."

How are the battles at the safety spots shaping up?

"The battles at the safety spots are interesting. We've got 'Bookie' (freshman Brendan Radley-Hiles) who can play nickel/safety for us, Jordan Parker a guy who we moved in from corner, Robert Barnes, Kahlil Haughton, Justin Broiles and then the young freshman who's kind of been a head-turner in terms of his physicality, Delarrin Turner-Yell. There's no hesitation in his game.

"What I want out of that position are guys who are trustworthy. They've got to understand that they've got to protect everybody. That's why they're called the 'safeties' of the defense. We've got to have guys who are going to be consistent, have fast reactions, are able to communicate and get everybody lined up. We've got enough guys back there to really be solid. I'd like to finish out the next two weeks before I really settled in on who those guys are going to be. We've got some pretty good versatility back there, but it's going to be a matter of who we can trust, who's going to be accountable and who's going to be consistent."

Junior DE Amani Bledsoe

How has the defensive line meshed so far in camp?
“I’d say we’ve definitely come together as a unit. Young guys have stepped up and fulfilled the depth. This is probably the most depth we’ve had as a D-line the past couple years and it’s definitely helped this fall camp to keep fresh bodies and keep guys fresh and rolling throughout practice and scrimmages.”

Your unit seems to have plenty of versatility. What kind of advantage does that give this defense?
“It’s definitely helpful when coaches have guys who can play multiple positions and guys who are interchangeable. It helps the defense step up and have the mental toughness to be able to do more than just your job and do what’s best for the defense and the team at the end of the day.”

With seven returning lettermen on the defensive line, how have you and the other upperclassmen helped the newcomers adjust to practice?
“I’m still working on my leadership because I’m kind of a quiet guy, so I’m trying to be more consistent in that area. The things I do say to them, and the other older guys as well, is just encouraging them and letting them know that each one of them is fulfilling their role here on the D-line.”

Who has been one player that has impressed you the most so far during fall camp?
“(Kenneth Mann) possesses a lot of talent, pass rushing wise. I think he’s going to cause a lot of havoc against a lot of teams this year. He’s going to be a guy like Ogbo (Okoronkwo) that’s consistently going to be in the backfield and beating guys off the line in pass rush.”

Junior OL Cody Ford

You’ve been in and out of the lineup the past two seasons due to injury. How excited are you to be back on the field in good health?

“I’m really excited to finally go out there and play a full season. It’s the goal every year, but obviously I’ve had a few setbacks and different situations where I’ve been held out with injuries. I just take it day by day and study and do what I can to make sure I’m healthy and in a place where I can stay on the field.”

Coach Bedenbaugh has moved you and Bobby Evans back and forth from left and right tackle throughout the offseason. What’s your comfort level on each side?

“I, personally, feel better at right (tackle). I don’t know why, I just feel more comfortable there and we’re settling into our spots right now. Coach B (Bedenbaugh) likes us where we’re at.”

How would you assess the development of the line's newcomers during fall camp?

“The newcomers are picking things up every day; guys like Brey (Walker) and Darrell (Simpson) and all those guys. They’re still newcomers, so some things us older guys understand, they might not get right away. But you can see that they have a great amount of potential coming their way. If they keep working hard, they’ll be all right.”

What have you seen from Jonathan Alvarez and Creed Humphrey at center since camp started?

“Right now, personally, they’re pretty equal. I don’t necessarily see any one guy above anybody else, but I think it’ll play itself out. The guy who continues to be the most trustworthy is what it will come down to, at this point.”

Sophomore RB Trey Sermon

How has camp been going to this point?
"Camp has been going really well. There's a lot of competition in the running back room, and really just all over the field. We compete each and every day, helping each other grow and get better."

How has the running back position progressed as a unit this fall?
"We're coming together pretty well. Each one of us is different. We each have our own unique style, and we're just trying to get in sync with the quarterback and offensive line. So far it's been going pretty well, but we still have a lot of room for improvement."

What's your assessment of freshman T.J. Pledger? 
"T.J. Pledger is a great guy. He's a great running back as well. He's very patient. He has that quick sudden burst, and I feel like more experience will really help him out a lot. Coming in the spring was really good for him, which is the same thing I did (in 2017). I feel like he's really going to be a great back."

What have you worked on in the offseason and in camp so far to improve yourself as a player?
"I was just working on my quick burst and my speed overall. That was really my main focus this offseason. I'm still just working on the receiving part, because you have to catch out of the backfield, especially in this offense. I've been continuing to work on that throughout camp as well."

How do you see the team as a whole right now at this point in camp?
"As a team, we're looking pretty good. The defense is looking really good, and they're helping the offense out as well. The offense is giving the defense a great look. The competition on both sides is helping us grow and develop as a team, and I feel like we're heading in the right direction."

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