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August 10, 2008

How do Sooners look one week in?

• Sooners looking to pick up the pace

Oklahoma completed its first week of preseason practice with its scrimmage Saturday. Besides the usual nicks and dings, the Sooners made it through Week 1 unscathed.

According to coaches and players, one of the biggest issues is playing at a faster tempo than previous years.

“We have to work to get into better shape,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “The teams we are going to face, the tempo is going to be no-huddle and you have to play with a new level of conditioning. The only way we can get that is practice and scrimmage situations, where we can try to emulate that. We have to constantly create that kind of sense of urgency, it has to be there.”

The NCAA Football Rules Committee voted to implement a 40/25-second play clock similar to what the NFL employs this season. Instead of using a 25-second clock that doesn’t start until officials mark the ball ready for play, college football will now use a 40-second clock that will start at the end of the preceding play.

The 25-second clock still will be used on the first play following a change of possession, as well as after penalties, measurements and timeouts.

Teams that have been playing in the no-huddle style should benefit from the changes. In the Big 12, teams like Texas Tech and Missouri rarely huddle and usually snap the ball with at least 10 seconds left on the play clock.

It’s basically fast-break football. The pace can be taxing for those not used to its speed.

OU has been experimenting with its own version since spring practice. The offense will try to do every play at a faster pace this season.

“It doesn’t make things more hectic or anything. It just makes you be more aware of the clock,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “You just can’t take your time walking to the line and walking back. You have to know that we only have 40 seconds since that last play was over, and we have to get things done and go. You can’t mosey around.”

Since football began, teams have tried to figure out ways to get faster on the field. It looks like this season, everything else will speed up, too.

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