Oklahoma has passed the midpoint of August drills. Classes start next Monday.
Experimentation and toying with different combinations in areas still in flux will continue in the coming week. With the start of class and the first game week then in sight, that will slack off as the coaching staff begins to fine-tune preparation for the Sept. 5 opener against BYU in Arlington.
So concrete conclusions across the board remain premature. But through a variety of informations sources, some observations are in order, along with some personal conjecture.
*The offensive line picture still is not in focus, but I get the sense that the sharp edges will eventually evolve and this will not be the problem that some feel it will be.
Probably the best five at the moment is Trent Williams at left tackle, Brian Simmons at left guard, cross-trained guard Stephen Good at center, dropped-down tackle Jarvis Jones at right guard and Cory Brandon at right tackle.
Now, that said, that may not be the five that comes out for the first series against BYU. Redshirt freshman Ben Habern may yet step in as expected at center and his practice limitations because of past back problems were precautionary. He’s due to be cleared for full-go duty this week and is still expected to make the first snap to Sam Bradford.
Some feel cross-trained Brody Eldridge may be the best center and he may show up there for spot duty, but he’s too valuable as the best blocking tight end--though OU has impressive young depth at the position behind Jermaine Gresham.
More to come there.
*Transfer receiver Cameron Kenny has caught the eye of everyone who has been privileged to watch him, but it’s too early to tag him as a go-to guy until he plays. There’s a lot to learn, more than just catching the ball and running with it--which he apparently can do.
The most impressive receiver to date? Running back-slotback-wideout Mossis Madu.
Deemed too valuable a weapon to languish on the sideline watching Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray, coach Bob Stoops told the offensive staff to use him or lose him and Madu reportedly has taken to wideout like he’s been doing it all his life. Doing things like running out routes, turning and catching a ball already almost there and then doing what he does best with it--make people miss in the open field.
If Adron “Pooh” Tennell can stay healthy for a season and if Ryan Broyles takes the expected step, the receiving corps may also be better than many expect--at least catching the ball. OU lost a lot in downfield blocking with the departure of Juaquin Iglesias and Manny Johnson.
Freshman Jaz Reynolds looks like he will win a spot in the rotation.
*Redshirt freshman Jermie Calhoun has apparently made such progress that the staff is now thinking that at least early he may be the third back and his move has even lessened any urgency to get Murray in pads--though that could happen this week.
*Defense. Need we go there? This could be the best bunch since the one that handcuffed Florida
State in the 2000 national championship game, though it will be better with currently decertified middle linebacker Mike Balogun than without him--even though freshman Tom Wort has the look of an all-conference player to come.
*Figure better special teams across the board. Tress Way will be the punter, with Kenny looking over his shoulder and due for some will-he-run-it or punt-it situations. And Stoops believe it or not three times so far has complemented Jimmy Stevens’ placekicking, along with kick coverage a weak area last season. The return game is in flux, though don’t expect Murray back to return kickoffs anytime soon.
-- Mike Jones