There is no denying that Sooners Football is the lifeblood of the University of Oklahoma. In the aftermath of the drama surrounding the departure of Lincoln Riley and the subsequent hire of Brent Venables, fans were eager to see how the team was being put together. Though he did not coach them through the Alamo Bowl, he was there along the way while Bob Stoops righted the ship before handing it over to him.
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The Spring Game
This year’s spring game used a draft to select players for the Red or White Teams. DeMarco Murray, the coach for the running backs, was the head coach of the Red team, and Miguel Chavis, the coach for the defensive ends, was the head coach of the White team.
Venables spent time encouraging fans to come to the game, and his plan paid off. Over 75,000 were in attendance to see the Red team defeat the White team 21-17.
Due to how they formed the teams, the offense looked discombobulated at times. However, there were flashes of greatness, giving a peek into what might happen once the season starts. However, it is clear Gabriel will be the starter and is by far the best quarterback the Sooners have. It would have been interesting to see their stats playing with a complete and not divided offense. Despite that, offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s vision for speeding up the offense looked like a plan coming together.
The defense looked better than the offense, which is a good thing. Oklahoma has had issues with having good offenses over the past few seasons but not up to par defenses. However, there were several players on the defense whose play stood out and gave them a chance to solidify their place on the team for the fall.
With the offense in Gabriel’s hands, the Sooners might be taken more seriously if the defense can do its part.
Will it happen this fall? Who knows. It will depend on how quickly the players finish familiarizing themselves with the playbook and then can execute those plays.
Three Standout Players
The UCF transfer made his debut playing for both teams. He went 19-for-28 for 250 yards; he also had one touchdown and one interception. Gabriel has come a long way from the broken collarbone that caused him to miss most of last season. At the spring game, he looked calm under pressure and comfortable staying in the pocket and scrambling to pick up yards on the ground.
The freshman running back carried the ball 17 times for 60 yards, and his longest carry was for 17 yards. He came away with two touchdowns in the game. He showed the ability to push through, forcing the pile of players he ran into to move. It is precisely what you would expect a well-seasoned player to do. With more experience under his belt, Barnes will be an offensive threat to defenses.
The senior defensive end could have jumped ship as many did with Riley’s departure. However, he decided to stay, and both he and the Sooners will benefit from that decision. He finished with five tackles, four for losses, and two sacks. The veteran defensive lineman will have the opportunity to play a significant role this fall, especially since players like Isaiah Thomas and Nik Bonitto declared for the draft.
Many fans may have shown up for the Baker Mayfield tribute, but they got a great game and a glimpse of the future of Oklahoma Football.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images