NORMAN — There were only a handful of surprises for Oklahoma this spring. Some young players have shown they’re capable of getting on the field next season. Some older players have shown they are capable of leading the team.
That always happens during spring practice.
What seems to always say if the spring was a success is whether the Sooners enter the offseason workouts with a legitimate starting quarterback.
In that way, Saturday’s Red/White Game and spring practice as a whole was a success.
Landry Jones threw 17-for-34 for 211 yards in the game. Some of those incompletions were drops. Others were simply thrown away. But the key was he led the White team to a 23-0 victory.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson sees big differences between the redshirt freshman who got the job last season after Sam Bradford was injured, and the one who ran the first-team offense this spring.
“He’s not necessarily having the big speeches and trying to be the guy talking the most, but I think he’s very comfortable approaching our group and making a comment or statement,” Wilson said. “But more than anything, he’s also one of our better workers. First guy in there, first guy in the line. He tries to set a good example as much as being a leader by talking.”
The Sooners missed those things when Bradford was injured last season. Quarterbacks are expected to lead, but it’s hard to do that without proven experience on the field. Jones didn’t have that last season. He also didn’t have the standing that comes with earning the starting job on the practice field.
One of his main goals this spring was to remove any doubt he would be the Sooners’ quarterback for the 2010 season.
“I was going to come in here (in spring practice) and try to win the starting spot,” Jones said. “I want to progress every day and become the player I know I’m capable of being.”
Jones’ progression puts OU into a stronger position heading into the 2010 season.
He wasn’t the only one who solidified himself this spring. The Sooners have at least strengthened the depth of an offensive line that was inconsistent and injury riddled last season.
The receivers also showed last season’s growing pains should pay off next season.
But offenses take their cues from their quarterback.
Jones’ increased presence as the unit’s leader has a big effect throughout the Sooner locker room.
“It all starts with confidence. Once you feel good about yourself you start bringing guys along with you,” wide receiver Ryan Broyles said. “That’s what he’s doing right now.”
The Sooners have one more practice this spring before heading into offseason workouts. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. The difference is that work won’t revolve around who the starting quarterback will be.
“Landry is gaining maturity and you can see that he’s more sure of himself,” coach Bob Stoops said.
That’s what OU needed to happen this spring.
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org