By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma will play a non-Saturday regular-season game for the first time since 2007. The Big 12 announced Thursday that OU’s game at Baylor has been moved to Nov. 7 (a Thursday). The Sooners already had an open date the week before. The game will be televised by either ESPN or Fox.
“I’d rather do it where we have an off-week before, and we don’t get trapped where you’ve got to go do it on a short week,” OU coach Bob Stoops said Thursday. “I think surveying it and analyzing it with (OU athletics director Joe Castiglione), I think we realized this may be the best scenario with the off-week ahead of it, and a relatively short trip.”
As part of the Big 12 Conference’s television contract, every team must play a Thursday game at least once over a two-year span. Playing one in Norman, however, is unlikely.
“With our situation, with the stadium right on campus, it really isn’t conducive for us to host one,” Stoops said. “So we’re going to have to go somewhere and play one.”
The last time OU played a regular-season game that wasn’t on a Saturday was at Tulsa in the fourth game of the 2007 season. That game was on a Friday.
The last time OU played a regular-season game on a Thursday was the 1992 season opener at Texas Tech.
Kasitati, Ripkowski will miss spring practice: Stoops said offensive lineman Nila Kasitati and fullback Aaron Ripkowski will both miss spring practice due to injuries. Kasitati is still recovering from an torn ACL suffered in October. Ripkowski is dealing with a wrist injury he picked up late last season.
Stoops said offensive lineman Tyler Evans, who suffered a torn ACL in August, has been medically cleared and tight end Taylor McNamara is expected to participate in the second half of spring practice.
QBs on the run: Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said one of the spring goals will be incorporating quarterbacks Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight into the running game.
The ability to run OU’s offense — the same OU ran under former quarterback Landry Jones — will be the deciding factor.
“We can use their ability to extend and make plays with their feet,” Heupel said. “How many times we’ll have designed play calls for them? I can’t tell you right now, but certainly something we’ll probably look at here in the spring.”
Ward still waiting: Defensive end D.J. Ward is attending classes, but won’t be on the field when practice starts Saturday. He’s still waiting to be cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse.
“We’re still waiting on him,” Stoops said.
Allen will transfer: Senior Drew Allen has decided to transfer and is no longer on the roster.
“Drew is working out and is waiting to see where — he’s going to graduate and have an opportunity to play somewhere next year,” Stoops said. “He’s a wonderful guy and will do well for somebody.”
Allen will graduate in May. As long as he transfers to a school that offers a post graduate degree in something OU does not, he’ll be eligible to play next season.
Schmidt impressed: Stoops said strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt believed OU players — as a whole — did the necessary work in winter conditioning. There were no gripes about work ethic with spring practice set to begin.
“I think, Jerry, this has been in his mind one of the best winters we’ve had just as an overall team,” Stoops said.
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