COLUMN: Spring game serves dual purposes
Merrill Jones, The Oklahoma Daily
I have always thought scrimmages and preseason games were kind of a tease. They give you a quick glimpse of your favorite team, but in the end, the results don’t matter and you feel a little cheated.
OU football’s spring game is even more of a tease. Not only does it have no impact on OU’s 2010 success, but it gives a misleading feeling that the season is close, though it is actually still four months away.
Regardless, there are reasons for Sooner fans to head to OU’s spring game this year. Position battles are not won or lost in the spring, but every year, some questions are answered.
While the media and fans are not allowed in practices, the spring game is an opportunity to see who the next big star may be or how a certain unit looks compared to last season.
With that in mind, here are three things to watch for when the football team steps onto Owen Field this Saturday.
1) Offensive Line – The biggest question heading into last season is again near the top of the list of unknowns in 2010. In 2009, injuries kept the young offensive line from ever finding any continuity, forced third-string players into action, and had players moving from other positions simply to fill out the line.
The only good that came out of last year's injuries is that many players received solid game experience. While OU lost All-American lineman Trent Williams and guard Brian Simmons to graduation, many young players will return with experience. It will be interesting to see how they hold up Saturday.
2) Quarterbacks – Last season was a roller coaster ride for Landry Jones. After the season-ending injury to Sam Bradford, Jones was able to guide the Sooners to their first bowl win since 2005. However, that bowl was the Sun Bowl, not exactly the highly-regarded bowl OU is used to playing in. On top of that, Jones struggled with consistency along the way, particularly on the road.
Saturday will hopefully give fans an opportunity to see what improvements Jones may have made since last year. While he had a mildly successful season in 2009, if he wants to keep the starting spot for three more years, he will have to continue to improve. Saturday may also provide fans the chance to see some of the young Sooner signal-callers who will look to eventually push Jones for the starting job.
3) Tight Ends – Often overshadowed by the injuries at quarterback and offensive line, All-American Jermaine Gresham’s season-ending injury in 2009 left the Sooners with a major void at tight end.
While it is unlikely anyone on this OU roster will put up Gresham-like numbers, Saturday could be an opportunity to see if Jones has developed a rapport with any of the young tight ends this spring. Trent Ratterree showed the most consistency in 2009, but it will be interesting to see if James Hanna is finally able to step into a larger role this season.
Clearly, there are many more position battles on this team. The kicking game is still a question mark, there will be two new starting cornerbacks, and some young defensive linemen will be expected to step up. With all this going on, there should be plenty of action at the spring game to keep OU football fans happy.
Even if the game is a bit of a tease.