After a year’s absence, Spring football has returned across the country. That’s no different at Oklahoma as they culminate Spring ball with their Spring Game on Saturday at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The game is scheduled to kick off at 4:00 PM and will be broadcast by Bally Sports Oklahoma. The Sooners have been building momentum into the Spring with the way that they finished the 2020 campaign. Today, we’ll look at five storylines to watch for in the 2021 Oklahoma Spring Game primer.
2021 Oklahoma Spring Game Primer
Replacing Creed Humphrey at Center
The loss of Humphrey could be the single biggest replacement for the 2021 season. Overall, the offensive line play was not where Lincoln Riley and Bill Bedenbaugh would have liked it to be. However, Humphrey was a big positive in terms of his production last year. Now, there are likely three guys that will be competing and vying for that job. Both the physicality and the intelligence required for the position are big intangibles that the coaches will be looking for.
Chris Murray is the guy that seems to be the leader in the clubhouse right now. The UCLA transfer played late in the season on the offensive line for the Sooners. However, Murray’s ability to seamlessly slide over to the center position would be ideal. Comparatively, Arizona transfer Robert Congel has also worked at center through the Spring. He can provide quality depth at the position. Lastly, Ian Mciver served as Humphrey’s backup over the last couple of seasons and will be involved in the discussion.
Improvement at the Wide Receiver position
Riley was very quick in the Spring to challenge the wide receivers. The Sooners led the country in dropped touchdown passes by wide receivers. Additionally, whether it was by injuries, suspensions, or downgraded play the receiver play wasn’t as good as it has been in the past. In order for Oklahoma to have the season they want, the consistency will need to be there. That starts with many kids that have been in the programs for several years and need to live up to their recruiting status.
Jadon Haselwood and Trejan Bridges are at the forefront of that improvement. Haselwood missed most of 2020 with an ACL injury. However, he should be back to 100% by the fall. He will be counted on to be a consistent target for Spencer Rattler this season. All signs pointed to Bridges having an outstanding Spring. However, he is currently suspended due to a legal matter under investigation until further notice. That could open the door for true freshman Mario Williams to be thrust into a starting spot. Williams has seen rave reviews in Spring camp thus far. A kid that is under the radar that by all accounts has had a really good Spring is Drake Stoops.
Defensive Back Depth
The Sooners took some hits in the defensive backfield in terms of attrition from a year ago. Tre Brown, Tre Norwood, and Brendan Radley-Hiles are no longer with the team this season. All three of those players started and played in a lot last season. Additionally, Norwood’s insertion into the secondary proved to be a difference-maker in terms of forcing turnovers. The Sooners will need players to step up. But, the coaching staff firmly believes that there are kids ready.
At the cornerback position, Latrell McCutchin is a kid that has received a lot of praise from players and coaches. He’s played so well that he’s been able to insert himself into the competition. On paper, Oklahoma has a nice two-deep with Woodi Washington, D.J. Graham, Jaden Davis, and the aforementioned McCutchin. At the Nickel back, we’re likely to see Justin Harrington, Jeremiah Criddell, and true-freshman Billy Bowman compete for the job. One of the big things to watch for in the 2021 Oklahoma Spring game will be how these kids solidify themselves.
The Sooners lost their two backup quarterbacks as Tanner Mordecai and Chandler Morris each elected to transfer to SMU and TCU respectively. Oklahoma essentially made a trade by adding Micah Bowens as a transfer from Penn State and incoming true-freshman Caleb Williams. Typically, the backup quarterback is the most popular kid in the eyes of the fans. However, the ability of the two to be game-ready will be another thing that most people will be interested in seeing in the 2021 Oklahoma Spring game. The backup quarterback is always one play away so the development of these youngsters will be fun to watch.
The impact from the Tennessee trio of transfers
Lastly, we look at the impact of a few transfers from Tennessee and how those three kids fit into the 2021 team. First, we look at Eric Gray in the running back position. Gray came in as one of the better backs in the SEC last year. That has transitioned over to Oklahoma in the Spring as the noise gets louder and louder by the day on how impressive he has been. But, will he be good enough to unseat Kennedy Brooks? Wanya Morris transferred in with hopes that he could solidify the tackle position. He’s had some minor injuries in camp, but his ability to nail down a tackle spot will be critical. Finally, Key Lawrence was a big addition to the safety group. However, with a crowded safety room can Lawrence make a dent and be a starter for this much-improved defense?