COLUMN: Upcoming spring OU football game will answer several questions
After a month of practice, the spring 2011 chapter of OU football history will be closed with the annual Red-White game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Expectations are high for the 2011 Sooners, and we’ll be able to see for ourselves, to a certain extent, whether the hype is real on Saturday.
There is little doubt in most people’s minds this team could be extremely special, but keep in mind no team is perfect.
On paper, this Sooner team is heavy on talent and even heavier in potential. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without questions.
The Sooners, who will likely sit on top of every major poll to start the season, get to answer some of those questions in front of a packed house of OU fans.
The first big question is the secondary with the absence of both safeties from last season and All-Big 12 cornerback Jamell Fleming. Freshman Aaron Colvin has been moved to safety alongside sophomore Javon Harris, and freshman Gabe Lynn has taken over Fleming’s cornerback position.
It’s important to watch because Colvin, although experienced and talented, has never played safety. Lynn is a simpler issue — he just doesn’t have much experience in general.
Another question is the defensive line, particularly at defensive tackle. OU signed three great defensive tackle prospects, but only Marquis Anderson came for spring practice. For Anderson, this time of adjusting to the pace of the college game will prove invaluable for him in the long run.
However, it’s the players already on the roster who need to pick up the slack and make more of a difference up front.
Sophomores JaMarkus McFarland, Stacy McGee and Casey Walker all have been there and done that, and freshman Daniel Noble played well last year before missing the rest of the season with a concussion Oct. 16.
These veterans need to set the pace for the younger players who will be called on as the season goes along. How they play Saturday could go a long way toward demonstrating what they bring to the table.
The last major question isn’t as much of a concern and should be more fun to watch for than anything: Who’s going to be the starting running back?
All signs point to freshman Roy Finch, but there are too many good backs on OU’s roster to count anyone out yet.
Incoming freshman Brandon Williams has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff for his talent and the speed with which he has been picking up on OU’s offensive scheme.
This battle could be great to watch because all the running backs will look to impress the coaches and prove they deserve to be the next featured OU running back.
The spring game is a great thing for the fans and the team even though it lacks much of the drama and fanfare of a regular-season game — even a regular-season game against a powderpuff like Idaho State.
For the fans, it’s a break from the long months of no football and signals a sort of halfway point between the end of last season and the beginning of next season.
For the coaches, it’s an important way to see how players respond to a game atmosphere and evaluate how the shuffling of players is going to fare in the upcoming season.
It’s important. It’s fun. Heck, who cares what it is — it’s football, for crying out loud.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Red-White game
WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
— Luke McConnell, journalism junior