Oklahoma Sooners: Nathan Hughes
SoonerNation writer Jake Trotter chatted with readers on Monday about Oklahoma football and recruiting. Here's the full transcript. If you didn't get your question answered, send it to the SoonerNation mailbag.
Here are a few highlights from the chat:
Jay (Wichita): What is the word on Jalen Saunders? Why is he getting so many reps, do the coaches have information that he will be cleared to play?
Jake Trotter: Two pretty good sources told us on Sunday that Saunders had NOT yet heard back from the NCAA on his waiver request. The coaches obviously feel decent about his chances, else they wouldn't be playing him on the second team. But no official word yet. Could come any day now.
Jake Trotter: The second team offensive line is a concern now. Nila Kasitati is practicing, but only a couple weeks from having a heart procedure. OU's other most experienced interior reserve, Austin Woods, is going through chemo. Darlington could emerge as Gabe Ikard's backup at center -- he's gotten some 2nd team reps there. Don't see Farniok, Marrs or Hughes being a factor this season.
Brett (RI): Any word on how the tight ends are looking this year and how they will factor into the offense?
Jake Trotter: They're going to really on Brannon Green to be this year's Brody Eldridge. He's not going to be a big factor in the passing game, but they'll ask him to run block a lot. I expect Trey Millard to get time at tight end in one-back sets. Taylor McNamara could add a catch here or there.
Dig (Doug): How big of a game is the Texas Tech game this year?
Jake Trotter: Big in the sense that's it a dangerous game. OU has never played well in Lubbock, and Tech has to feel confident coming of its win last season. It's also the week before Texas. I would like Tech's chances a lot more, though, if they hadn't beaten OU last season. Sooners should be focused for this one.
No. 44 Nathan Hughes
Defensive end, 6-foot-6, 248 pounds
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But Both players are gone.
Competition will be the name of the game at defensive end this spring as several players -- some with experience, some with potential -- will battle to replace Alexander and Lewis in the starting lineup.
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Jake Trotter: Michael, it’s fair to say that class as a whole failed to elevate its game to the level everyone thought it might. Fullback Trey Millard was an all-conference selection, but nobody else from that class -- Kenny Stills, Tony Jefferson, Corey Nelson, Roy Finch, Aaron Colvin -- had that kind of season. All of those guys are really good players, who are going to be the core of this team going forward. But we probably should have waited to see what would happen before declaring it the greatest class of the Bob Stoops era.
Jason Kirkpatrick in Angleton, Texas, writes: Hi Jake, what is your take with the team coming back with OU minus Landry Jones next year? How good do you think this team can be and win conference? Thanks, Jason
Jake Trotter: I don’t know that I see this team -- with or without Landry -- contending for a national championship next season, but it will certainly be talented enough to win the Big 12. Oklahoma State must replace Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, Baylor could lose Robert Griffin III and Texas still has no offense. Kansas State, West Virginia and TCU will be solid, but OU should right there with any team in the league.
Lance Norris in Phoenix writes: Mike Stoops back to Norman, it’s all the buzz. What are you hearing?
Jake Trotter: I’m hearing there is a decent chance Stoops comes back as OU’s secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator along with Brent Venables (assuming he doesn’t leave), but there are some obstacles that have to be resolved first. Remember, there is no opening on the OU staff at the moment. Someone will have to leave or be fired for Stoops to return, and Bob Stoops has never fired an assistant during his tenure at OU. Mike Stoops has other options, too. He is being courted by Nebraska and Ohio State, among others. And those places actually have vacancies. But if one pops up in Norman, look for Bob to make a strong push to bring his brother back. Stay tuned.
Chad in Edmond, Okla., writes: I've been thinking recently about how OU hasn't been a juggernaut rushing, but instead focuses on passing. I know with Landry and Sam Bradford passing should be a priority. But there has been so much offensive line and running back talent come through recently that it confuses me as to why OU can't run the ball. What I want to know is, are the running issues something to do with how the players are coached or more towards the scheme? Shouldn't it be easier to run with the talent that OU consistently has? I see that as being one of the biggest problems. I would like to know your opinion. Thanks.
Jake Trotter: Chad, growing up I was a fan of the Miami Dolphins during the Dan Marino era. Miami scored a ton of points then. But no matter what the Dolphins did, no matter who they signed or drafted, no matter how much they talked about it, they could never run the ball with any consistent effectiveness. Why? I believe it was because of their mentality. They never could develop the mentality of a hardnosed run team. They never could shake the mentality they were a finesse team. They didn’t really believe they could impose their will on the ground. And there wasn’t really a commitment to see it through. I see OU having a similar mentality now. The talent is there to run the ball. I’m not sure the right mentality is at the moment. Until that changes, running the ball is going to continue to be a struggle.
Clayton in Sherman, Texas, writes: Everyone keeps saying we don't have a tight end. What about the two freshmen on the roster from last year’s class? Max Stevenson and Hughes. If we pick up three more like you all say in your recruiting news, we will have more on the roster than we have now, right?
Jake Trotter: Stevenson has never played a down and is recovering from a pectoral injury. I’m not sure which Hughes you are referring to, but Nathan Huges is a defensive end, and John-Phillip Hughes is a walk-on. If Austin Haywood doesn’t make it back -- and based on who OU is recruiting, I’m skeptical he will -- the Sooners would be left with only one returning scholarship tight end, who hasn’t been practicing because of injury. Which is why tight end is a definite need. That’s why the Sooners are bringing in two tight ends in Laith Harlow and junior college transfer Brannon Green. And they're still recruiting a few others.