Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Sooners to watch this spring: Offense
By Brandon Chatmon
Spring football is always one of the best times of the year. While uncertainty and unknowns surround the program, excitement and positivity tend to override most concerns. Oklahoma opens its spring drills on Saturday, so here are some offensive players to keep an eye on throughout spring:
Will tight end Taylor McNamara make an impact for the Sooners in 2013?
Quarterback Trevor Knight, redshirt freshman: The OU quarterback battle will be the talk of spring drills as Blake Bell gets a chance to run the regular offense, Kendal Thompson gets a chance to cement his name in the conversation and Knight looks to live up to the hype from 2012. Knight gets the nod here because he’s the only one of the three who the public has never seen in action on the Owen Field turf. Coaches and teammates have raved about Knight's physical ability but the spring is his chance to show his mental acumen is just as impressive.
Center Ty Darlington, sophomore : Darlington was impressive during his freshman year. He excelled in his lone start against Baylor, earning a game ball and had forced himself into the rotation by the end of the year. Unfortunately for Darlington, the Sooners' best lineman sits ahead of him on the depth chart in All-Big 12 center Gabe Ikard. Nonetheless, new offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is likely to find a way to get Darlington on the field if he proves to be among OU’s top five linemen. The spring is Darlington’s opportunity to do just that.
Receiver Derrick Woods, redshirt freshman: While Knight drew a lot of attention for torching OU’s defense while on the scout team, Woods was just as impressive. Receivers coach Jay Norvell and cornerback Aaron Colvin had high praise for Woods' improvement from August to December. And with Kenny Stills and Justin Brown, OU’s starting outside receivers in 2012, exhausting their eligibility, Woods should have a prime opportunity to become a big part of the offense this fall.
Running back Alex Ross, redshirt freshman: Even though the Sooners return three senior running backs, Ross could make a move in the spring. He has size, speed and athleticism and could simply prove to be too good to keep of the field. The competition for carries should be fierce for the Sooners in 2013 and it starts this week.
Tight end Taylor McNamara, redshirt freshman: If the Sooners offense is going to have a major passing threat at tight end, McNamara will be the man to do it. For tight end to re-emerge as a key part of the Sooners’ offense, the California native is the best candidate on the roster to become a factor. This spring will be his opportunity to show the coaches it's better to have him on the field than continue with the four-receiver attack that became the norm in 2012.