NORMAN, Okla. — After what Oklahoma did in recruiting on Friday, its actual spring game is turning into an afterthought. What else can the Sooners do to top landing four commitments on the first day of an unofficial weekend?
Well, the game offers intrigue because Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley promises at least one half of actual football with split rosters.
There’s the quarterback competition between Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall. A battle at that spot has always driven spring game attendance more than any other aspect.
There’s also the impact the early enrollees in the 2018 class can make, and fans get their first glimpse at the initial eight to arrive.
Here are five things to watch when the spring game kicks off at 1 p.m. CT Saturday from Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Does Oklahoma’s offense change between Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall?
One thing that makes Oklahoma’s quarterback duel special is the skill set that Murray and Kendall each bring to the table. Murray can throw from the pocket, but he can terrorize a defense when he gets outside of it. Kendall is a good athlete, but he’s a quintessential pocket passer.
Riley said prior to the start of spring practice that he doesn’t need to tailor the offense to either one’s strengths until August. It’s likely the Sooners will keep much of the quarterback running game under wraps until the fall.
The most important aspect is to see if Murray can throw from the pocket. If he can, the quarterback race is over.
What does Oklahoma get out of freshmen running backs T.J. Pledger and Kennedy Brooks?
It’s the spring game. The offense hasn’t changed. Oklahoma knows what it has with junior Rodney Anderson and sophomore Trey Sermon. Expect, at least in the first half, for T.J. Pledger and Kennedy Brooks to get the brunt of the work.
They might be no better than the No. 3 running back next season. But history says the third-team running back is going to get a significant amount of playing time and can quickly rise up the depth chart. Remember, that’s where Anderson was at the start of the 2017 season. He’ll enter 2018 as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.
Is Brendan Radley-Hiles is as good as advertised?
Ask any player who has been the most impressive newcomer this spring and Brendan Radley-Hiles takes the top spot in a landslide. He’ll play the nickel safety spot and some at deep safety.
Radley-Hiles isn’t big. At 5-foot-9, he might be the shortest player on the field on Saturday. But he has great speed and off-the-charts quickness. He was also a great tackler in high school. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops raves about his instincts and ability to make plays on the ball.
Don’t be surprised if Riley wants to show some of that off on Saturday. It’s a decent bet the Sooners will run at him in the first half of the scrimmage to give Radley-Hiles a chance to show the public what he can do.
Can defensive standouts Jalen Redmond and Ronnie Perkins help Oklahoma in 2018?
Two of the prize defensive recruits are unlikely to be immediate starters like Radley-Hiles. Becoming immediate contributors is a safe bet.
Jalen Redmond plays the outside linebacker position that Ogbo Okoronkwo held before he graduated. He was a dominant pass rusher at Midwest City (Okla.) High School. The Sooners will also ask him to drop into coverage. But he’s already battling Mark Jackson and Addison Gumbs for playing time at the spot. Redmond might have the most upside of any player in this class.
It’s safe to say Ronnie Perkins will be in the defensive line rotation. He still has room to grow, but his strength and quickness made a strong early impression.
Redmond and Perkins could form a dynamic pass-rushing duo in the years to come.
Who’s the leader to become the Sooners right tackle?
The offensive line will be split up in the first half of the game Saturday. The offensive line depth chart remains a mystery. Bobby Evans at left tackle, Ben Powers at left guard and Dru Samia at right guard are assured. The competition at center seems to lean heavily toward redshirt freshman Creed Humphrey.
What does offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh do it at right tackle? You’ll likely see Cody Ford and Adrian Ealy there a lot during the game.
If incoming freshmen Brey Walker and Darrell Simpson are going to see action as first-year players, right tackle is the spot.
This is most competitive and mysterious position on Oklahoma’s offensive line.