NORMAN — Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis arrived at Owen Field Saturday wearing nothing but white. He was a member of the White team for the Sooners’ spring game and he wanted anyone in sight to know. If they couldn’t see, Lewis was loud enough so that only the deaf could ignore him.
He was brash and certainly cocky. He was ready to play a game and he wasn’t alone.
OU coach Bob Stoops altered the format for the Red/White Game to make sure it was more like, well, an actual game. Teams were split via a draft conducted by the seniors Thursday and players treated it more like a game than the collection of plays it had been in the past.
“Walking out there, I really felt we were in game mode. That pregame everyone was flying around, stretching and talking mess to each other. I felt like it was really a game situation,” Lewis said. “This new setup is great for everybody.”
Of course, Lewis and the rest of those in White got to do the celebrating after a 23-0 victory in front of over 16,000 rank-soaked fans.
The White had some advantages.
For one, it had Landry Jones. The Sooners’ starting quarterback played like a more mature version of the player who led OU to a Sun Bowl victory to end the 2009 season.
He threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
It might not seem like much. Statistically, his 17-for-34 completion rate didn’t raise many eyebrows, but he didn’t have every weapon at his disposal. Ryan Broyles, who caught four passes for 69 yards, played for the Red team. So did Jaz Reynolds, who had two for 65.
Instead, he threw touchdown passes to freshman Kenny Stills, who enrolled at OU for the spring semester, and Trent Ratterree, who caught 11 passes last season.
Also, he managed to avoid an interception on a cold and wet afternoon.
“My main objective was to take care of the ball and not throw any picks, have clean exchanges,” Jones said. “I thought we threw it pretty good despite the conditions.”
OU coach Bob Stoops said Jones’ performance was “pretty decent.” But he spent the day trying to throw Jones off his game. He was in charge of the defense for the for the Red team.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson led the Red. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables held the reins of the victorious White team.
His team pitched a shutout. It helped having the No. 1 quarterback.
“When we got him, we knew it was going to be tough for the other side,” Venables said. “You knew you had an advantage.”
OU’s No. 2 quarterback, Drew Allen, 10-for-22 for 137 yards with two interceptions. Third-teammer John Nimmo was 3-for-7 for 57 yards.
Running the ball was a factor. Who was running was a surprise. DeMarco Murray, Jermie Calhoun and Jonathan Miller didn’t play. The only running back with experience who got an actual carry was Mossis Madu. He had one tote for 3 yards.
Instead it was Marshall Musil, who redshirted last season, who carried the load for the White team. He finished with 92 yards on 29 carries.
The Red was led by on the ground by Dominique Whaley, a walk-on who played at Langston in 2008. He had 10 carries for 50 yards.
The White also got field goals from 39, 31 and 27 yards by Jimmy Stevens. Patrick O’Hara missed a 43-yard attempt in the first quarter for the Red.
The game itself wasn’t a thing of beauty, but that wasn’t the point. It was supposed to be more competition than exhibition. Lewis’ excitement carried throughout the game and right into the press conference.
There was something to brag about.
“Right now they’re kind of rubbing it in our faces,” said defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland, who played for the Red. “It’s all right. Everything we do is competition.”
For the first time in years, that was evident in the Red/White Game.
John Shinn 366-3536 email@example.com