Sooners relaxed look on offense not indicative of work they're putting in

By Bryan Fischer | Blogger
Posted by Bryan Fischer

NORMAN, Okla. -- Maybe it's the fact that it's spring ball. Maybe it's the fact that it is early in the work week. Whatever it might be, Oklahoma's offense looks relaxed.

It's not the look you would expect after going through a grueling practice on an enjoyable but windy Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. There was no hint of a team that lost three of six to close out the regular season, including a 44-10 beat down at the heads of rival Oklahoma State. No games, no outside distractions - just a chance to focus on themselves that had everybody walking off the field stress-free.

"The first week is going pretty good, I played alright and threw the ball around pretty well," quarterback Landry Jones said. "A lot of the young guys are still learning and getting into it being the first week of practice. They're still trying to understand where they're at and what they're doing. But they're coming along and we're picking it up."

The Sooners finished with a top five offense last season and averaged almost 40 points and over 500 yards a game. Dig deeper into the post-mortem and you'll see how front-loaded those numbers were for a squad ranked No. 1 in the preseason. Running back Dominique Whaley led the team in rushing but took most of the explosiveness in the ground game with him when his ankle broke midway through the year. Jones wasn't the same signal-caller after wide out Ryan Broyles went down with a torn ACL, tossing six picks and just one touchdown in the games following the loss of his favorite target. Injuries were certainly factor in a disappointing - by OU standards - 2011 campaign but it's served as the driving force to improve this spring.

"You realize you don't have enough time - that it's my last one. I have to make the best of it and go into next year as polished as I can," said Jones. "The whole season, I saw my self bouncing around in the pocket too much instead of getting my feet in the ground and really moving with a better base. That's really one of the things that is more of an emphasis for me."

Although backups Blake Bell (who was a revelation late with the aptly-named Belldozer package to utilize his running abilities) and Drew Allen are seeing increased reps during practice, Jones developing rapport with his mostly new group of wide receivers will be key if the spring is to be considered a success. Veterans Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds are expected to elevate their games while freshman Trey Metoyer and a host of tight ends learn the offense.

The run game, so inconsistent a year ago, is also a point of emphasis for the Sooners this spring. Roy Finch and Brennan Clay will handle most of the carries with Whaley (who is ahead of schedule in his rehab) out until the summer.

"Obviously Roy and Brennan are both guys who have been around here for two years," Running backs coach Cale Gundy said. "If you see them in person they look really, really good, they've put on some good weight. They know everything that is going on. (Fullback) Trey Millard will play an important role for us and be a guy that gets more touches in the backfield. You throw him back there then you have three guys carrying the ball which is pretty good."

Look into the faces of the staff and players at Oklahoma and the nonchalance belies their attention to detail and drive to improve. Maybe it was the weather or the post-practice cool down but the message still came across that the Sooners are out to get better even if you couldn't tell.

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