Oklahoma Sooners: Tyrus Thompason

Here are a few players to watch in Saturday’s Red-White game:

Receiver Trey Metoyer: The spring enrollee has been the star of spring football. He has displayed excellent hands, competitiveness and playmaking ability, proving to be a player who is expected to make a major contribution this fall.

Saturday is Metoyer’s chance to cement himself a role in OU’s offense and if he continues to show dynamic playmaking ability it will give offensive coordinator Josh Heupel some flexibility and the opportunity to be creative as a tinkers with the offense this summer.

Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips: Phillips has been the defense’s version of Metoyer. Rave reviews have been coming in from his teammates, particularly the offensive linemen who have had to face him during spring practices.

He possesses unique athleticism at 6-foot-6, 329 pounds. Guard Gabe Ikard has praised him throughout the spring calling him “the next Gerald McCoy” and “a future All-American.” Saturday is Phillips' opportunity to show everyone he will be a playmaker this fall.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
Mark D. Smith/US PresswireCan Blake Bell surpass Drew Allen for the backup quarterback job at OU?
Cornerback Lamar Harris: Heading into his senior season, Harris appears to have stepped up his game. He’s had a solid spring and thrust himself into the conversation at the cornerback position opposite Demontre Hurst. At 6-foot-1, 187 pounds, Harris brings excellent size to the position and would give the Sooners options this fall if he continues to play well.

The cornerback position is unlikely to be solidified until the end of fall camp but if Harris can continue to impress it will help OU handle the explosive passing offenses of the Big 12. Saturday is a major opportunity for Harris to secure himself a role in Mike Stoops defense.

Quarterbacks Blake Bell and Drew Allen: Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel says he wants Bell and Allen competing as if they have the opportunity to win the starting job, otherwise “they’re cheating themselves and cheating the program.”

Obviously the coaches will continue to have a close eye on the Sooners backup quarterbacks and Saturday will be the chance for Bell or Allen to take a major step towards securing the backup quarterback position.

Bell is known for the “Belldozer” short-yardage package which the Sooners used with major success in 2011 but multiple teammates have lauded his passing abilities. Allen was OU’s backup in 2011 and has more experience in running the offense thanks to his three years on campus.

Offensive tackles Derek Farniok, Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams: Lane Johnson has moved to left tackle and is the Sooners most experienced returning tackle. Farniok, Thompson and Williams have impressed this spring, giving tackles coach Bruce Kittle the expectation that OU will have four solid tackles (and the flexibility to rotate) this fall.

The trio could take major steps towards solidify Kittle’s expectation with strong games on Saturday. Williams was slated to start at right tackle in 2011 before an ankle injury against Tulsa hampered him for the remainder of the season. Thompson has been rotating at left tackle with Johnson and Kittle calls him “game-ready”. Farniok, Williams’ backup at right tackle, has been arguably the most impressive lineman this spring after redshirting last season. At 6-foot-8 and 325 pounds, Farniok has made major strides since he arrived on campus last summer.
While the chances he plays this season are slim, the Sooners are high on the potential of 6-foot-9, 325-pound redshirt freshman offensive tackle Derek Farniok.

“What really impresses me about him is how hard he works,” said Daryl Williams, who is the favorite to start at right tackle. “When I first saw him I'll be honest I thought he was gonna be lazy or not be able to move, but he's really a hard worker. One of the hardest workers on the team.”

Farniok’s brother, Tom, started 13 games for Iowa State as a redshirt freshman last season. It will be tough for Farniok to do the same and crack OU’s lineup in 2012. Lane Johnson is an automatic to open the season as the starting left tackle, and Williams is likely to start right tackle, where he started the Sooners’ first game last season. OU also is bringing in junior-college transfer Will Latu, and Tyrus Thompson is entering his third year in the program. But it might not be long before Farniok, who hails from Sioux Falls, S.D., becomes a factor, too.

"He's worked his butt off this offseason," said offensive line coach James Patton. "Derek has want-to. He's just got to keep practicing. He's a young guy, a redshirt freshman, and is very green from a fundamental standpoint. He's just got to learn our stuff, and he will.”


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