Norman — College football teams are allowed 15 practices each spring. Oklahoma’s theme for the one month period is to pack as much into those workouts as possible.
After four practices, that seems to be the case.
“We’re constantly on the field. Everyone is doing something all the time because there’s so many reps,” cornerback Demontre Hurst said following Wednesday’s practice. “It feels like it’s going to be 25 or 30 practices. It’s tiring.”
It’s not that amount of time on field that has changed for the Sooners. It’s how they are doing things.
This spring, OU has divided the squad into two units and split the field in half at the 50-yard line or sent units to a separate practice field. One unit works on one side, while other does the same.
It’s something Sooner coach Bob Stoops picked up last spring during a visit with Alabama’s coaching staff. It seemed to work pretty well for the Crimson Tide, who won a national championship last season.
“We coaches get together here and there, share ideas and usually there are always different ways of looking at things and seeing things through someone else’s eyes and that is what coaches do to a degree, “ Stoops said. “So it just depends on who it is.”
Stoops brought this one back from Tuscaloosa, Ala. Meanwhile, Boise State coach Chris Peterson will visit a couple of Sooner practices next week to pick up some ideas.
One he might pick up on is the split-field practice philosophy. Players admit the first four practices have been a shock to the system, but that’s because down time has pretty much been eliminated.
“Coaches don’t want to see guys standing around. No more second team waiting around for the first team to get done,” running back Mossis Madu said. “It’s a thing where everyone is doing something all the time.”
Packing as much into the spring training schedule as possible has become a necessity. These 15 practices aren’t so much designed to polish units as much as they are to develop players. Established starters might not need to go 75 plays in a scrimmage. A guy coming out of redshirt or someone trying to break into the starting lineup needs every play he can get.
Defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland is trying to make that jump.
“This spring everything is fast paced as we are splitting up and everybody is getting extra reps,” McFarland said. “The coaches are getting a real good look at what everybody has, because they saw us coming out of high school but now we are at OU and they want to see what kind of talent we have going into next season. We are just grinding.”
How well it pays off won’t be known until September, but players agree this won’t be a spring of leisure.
“It feels like we’re doing double what we’ve been doing in practice,” wide receiver Ryan Broyles said.
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org