The Norman Transcript

December 29, 2013

Sooners get a visit from Kenny Stills during practice

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

METAIRIE, La. — Oklahoma is practicing at the New Orleans Saints’ facility all week. It gave current Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills an easy reason to drop by the workout. All he had to do was hang around after his practice ended.

“He actually broke the huddle down today for us, so it was good to see him,” OU wide receiver Sterling Shepard said about Stills’ interaction with the team.

The fact Stills, who was a starter at OU from 2010-12, was at OU’s practice Saturday showed he’s still on decent terms with the coaching staff.

In November, he took to Twitter twice to lambaste the staff. The first came during the Sooners’ loss to Baylor. Stills was critical in the play-calling during the game. The second came when running back Damien Williams was dismissed from the team prior to OU’s game against Kansas State.

OU’s practice was closed to reporters and Stills was not available, either. The Saints face Tampa Bay today in a game that will decide whether or not New Orleans reaches the NFC playoffs. So, he could very well be around for OU’s practices all week.

Players said they did not see current Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton — also an OU alum — at Saturday’s practice.

Watch and learn: OU freshman linebacker Dominique Alexander won’t have to line up against Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley Thursday, but he will be watching him intently. It’s been that way since Alexander was a junior at Tulsa Washington.

“I remember it was my junior year, I really focused in on him, that he really is something special,” Alexander said.

Mosley, who won the Butkus Award this season, is widely considered the best inside linebacker in college football. Alexander, who was a high school senior at this point a year ago, wants to follow in Mosley’s footsteps.

“I want to win it one day,” Alexander said. “I might as well look up to somebody who’s doing it right now. He’s around every play. He’s flying around the ball, and that’s something you want to do as a football player.”

Wait and see: OU won’t have offensive linemen Tyrus Thompson or Adam Shead available Thursday. Both have been ruled out due to late-season injuries.

Derek Farniok will start at left tackle for the second straight game. Shead’s absence mean Nila Kasitati and Bronson Irwin have to handle the guard duties instead of alternating at the right guard spot.

“I think we’re doing good without them, and they’re good players,” right tackle Daryl Williams said Saturday. “Without them, people probably think we’ll be weaker but I think we’ve been just as good so far.”

Don’t ask about conferences: OU coach Bob Stoops always causes a stir when he says anything about the SEC. He’s refused to go down that path since OU received its Sugar Bowl bid Dec. 8.

Players are now staying mum on the topic, too.

“I think I’m going to stay out of that one,” OU defensive end Geneo Grissom said when asked about it Saturday.

Time to breathe: The Sooners will face an offense that huddles for just the second time in the last six games.

“I feel like that will play to our advantage because we mostly play against fast pace in the Big 12. It’ll help us because we’ll be able to focus even harder,” OU middle linebacker Frank Shannon said.

No word on the QB: OU coach Bob Stoops reiterated when the team arrived in New Orleans Friday he will not name a starting quarterback for the game.

“We intend to be unsettled about quarterback all the way up until the game. I wouldn’t say it’s unsettled, I would say that it’s purposeful,” he said.

Shepard gave no insight to the situation Saturday, but said getting both Trevor Knight and Blake Bell ready to play gives OU’s offense more options.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

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