For die-hard college football fans, the late winter, spring and most of summer are a desert. One oasis in this desert of gridiron-less weekends is the event that can mean everything…or mean nothing. The Spring Game. Last year gave Cowboy fans a glimpse of RB Jaylen Warren. Warren was an unheralded transfer from Utah State. Not a lot of buzz. However, many Cowboy fans believe if Warren was just healthy in the Big 12 Title Game, the Pokes would be reigning Conference Champs and would be coming off their first College Football Playoff appearance. A real impact player who made his debut in the spring.
For the other side of the coin, let me take you back to the year 2000. At the OU Spring Game, a walk-on WR caught three passes for 25 yards. Not overwhelming, but Offensive Coordinator, Mark Mangino, said 6’4” 205 lb Elijah Steenhoek was “definitely in the mix” after taking reps with the first team. All summer, I looked forward to watching this amazing story develop. I was so excited to see this walk-on WR who had great size. Just what Oklahoma could use. Dude, it was going to be a story for the ages. Well, college football can be a cruel mistress and for whatever reason, Elijah caught 2 passes for 29 yards in the season that followed. (For what it’s worth, Elijah went on to get his MFA in TV and Film Production at USC. Interesting – did I mention I’m also the Movie Dude?)
By noon after this year’s Bedlam Game, the college football landscape had shifted. Lincoln Riley left for USC and OU embarked on journey that would bring Brent Venables back to Norman as the Head Coach and Jeff Lebby back to OU as an Offensive Coordinator. So spring has sprung and what did we see at OU’s Spring Game:
- The Crowd – Wow. That’s all I can say. 75,360 fans…for a Spring Game. Look, if we’re being honest Sooner fans felt jilted when Riley left. OU is not a stepping stone job and were ready to prove it. Venables told fans if OU is who they say they are – they’ll pack the spring game. Well, they damn sure did. Kudos, Sooners.
- Dillon Gabriel is QB1 – Gabriel, the left-handed transfer QB from Central Florida, showed some wheels and accuracy going 19 of 28 passing. He wasn’t perfect, but let’s see what the season brings.
- Jayden Gibson is taller than Elijah Steenhoek – Jayden Gibson is a 6’5” highly rated WR receiver from Florida. Gibson broke free for a 95 yard touchdown grab.
- Defense – There were 10 sacks on the day. Not a bad start.
Dillon Gabriel, QB (The Oklahoman)
So, what was the story in Stilly? Well, that’s a little tougher. Mike Gundy confirmed this past week there would be no spring game due to a shortage of offensive linemen. There would just be a final Spring Practice”. Never fear Loyal and True, the Pokes made a haul in the Transfer Portal, but those guys just aren’t on campus yet. So, how did it go?
- No more Knowles – Last year’s defense was undeniably the best in Mike Gundy’s tenure and one of the best in the history of the school. With Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles gone to Ohio State, Auburn Defensive Coordinator Derek Mason steps in to guide the D. There were four interceptions on the day and the defense did seem to have control in the limited 1s on 1s action.
- Was there a Warren? – Earlier I mentioned Spring Game Breakout stars. That’s hard enough in a Spring Game, let alone a Spring “Practice”. Senior WR C.J. Tate did have seven catches including a 40 yard TD. So…I have no idea. Highly touted all world WR receiver Tayln Shettron had a couple of impressive plays before his ankle decided to call it a day. Well, I guess all this just leaves more mystery for a fall camp which could lead to the last Bedlam game for the foreseeable future. Maybe.
C.J. Tate, WR (Enid News)
Thank goodness for Spring Football. A cool drink of water in the desert of college football.
Cheers from our football-lovin’ team members: Eddie’s, Hott Wings Railyard and NEW location on Coltrane.