The annual Red & White Game is usually viewed as the culmination of a four week spring football camp. But this year at Oklahoma, Bob Stoops is holding his spring game 10 practices into a 15 practice schedule.
Why the change? Why not just extend the spring game an extra weekend and make the game fall at the end of camp?
Easter weekend is why.
“Everybody’s families are inconvenienced and kids can’t get home for Easter and parents get their weekend interrupted,” Stoops explained Friday. “It’s hard to get back for church the next day so it works out.”
So here we are on a familiar date, but this spring game really serves as Oklahoma’s second major scrimmage of spring camp instead of the final scrimmage.
This game will also be missing some key pieces. Running back Rodney Anderson has been practicing all spring, but he has been held out of all contact portions of practice after he suffered a broken neck before last season.
“Any time we’ve been full live action we’re not taking a chance with Rodney right now,” said Stoops. “We’ll get him another six months removed from that before we have collisions. It can only help.”
The Sooners have also been without Steven Parker and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who have been sitting out after minor offseason surgeries.
Wide receiver Jordan Smallwood will also be held out of today’s Red & White Game.
“He had a little thing the other day and just fell on the turf,” Stoops said. He’ll be fine but we’re not going to take a chance.”
The Sooners will also be without starting cornerback Jordan Parker, who had surgery to have a pin inserted in his foot after suffering a stress fracture last week.
After today’s spring game, the Sooners will still have five more practices. All of those practices will be full pad practices. That means two more weeks of practices and one more major scrimmage will happen after today.
BIG WEEKEND FOR RECRUITS
Our Josh McCuistion has been tracking recruits coming in for the game. The Sooners will be welcoming in a lot of players who signed letters of intent with OU back in February.
Two players who will be in attendance will have a chance to make an impact next season. Those would be wide receivers Cedarian Lamb and Charleston Rambo.
Stoops says he’s excited about the recruiting aspect of today’s spring game.
“We’ve got a ton (of recruits) tomorrow. It’s really good,” he said. “Most of all our signees come back that aren’t here yet, that didn’t come early and then we’ve got alumni coming back.
“We’ll have a couple or three rounds of recruits and some have been here multiple times, some for the first time. So we’ve got like three levels of recruiting and it always works out well. It’s always been a good day for us.”
The recruits will get a first-hand look at all the facilities improvements as well. According to Stoops, things are quickly coming together inside the south endzone expansion.
“I think they were laying turf in the weight room the last few days and it’s really going to be great,” he said. “It’s already been a boost in recruiting and I think it’s only going to help us now that they can be in it and see it.”
Stoops was asked what will impress the most for people who haven’t seen the new digs.
”Just how thorough every (addition) is and the accommodations for players; the detail that’s gone into everything and getting it all setup.”
THE RED & WHITE GAME FORMAT
The Sooners didn’t draft teams this year. They’ll go ‘good on good’ playing the first team defense against the first team offense and then the backup units.
The quarterbacks will jump from one team to the other. So if Baker Mayfield is at the helm for the Red team when they score, they’ll get the points. If he jumps over to the White team a few series later and they score, then they’ll get the points.
Stoops says it will help keep the game competitive.
“That way regardless the score can always be tight and we can put a different quarterback or different number in there with White or Red,” he said. “People want to keep score for some reason. I’ve got a good chance to win tomorrow.”
The Sooners won’t have any live special teams either. It will all be simulated with scout teams going against the kickoff and punt teams.
“When we kick into the wind we’ll spot the ball on the 30 and when we kickoff with the wind we’ll put it on the 25,” said Stoops.