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June 26, 2009Bob Stoops continues to make caravan stops across the region and landed in Tulsa on Thursday night on the campus of the University of Oklahoma's Schusterman Center.
With summer workouts now fully underway, Stoops answered some of the burning questions about his team heading into the 2009 season.
First and foremost, was his opinion on the status of his offensive line. Stoops called out his line at the beginning of spring practices. Then he booted backup offensive guard Alex Williams from the squad.
Is Stoops' message being heard this summer?
"They had a great spring, but that's the spring," said Stoops. "It's another five months (after the end of spring football) before they start the season, so we'll see what they're able to do 'til then."
Stoops can't be around his offensive linemen during workouts, but you can bet he hears how they are performing during the summer. But he's still taking a wait-and-see approach.
"In the end, it gets back to their accountability and what kind of effort and discipline they're going to have throughout the year and how they work and what kind of shape they come back in," he said. "There's a lot of potential there. They could be a really good unit but it still needs to be developed and it still needs to show over and over in a more consistent way."
Stoops' has backed off of critical comments concerning his offensive line. He does seem more at ease with their progress. But at the same time, he's continuing to push the message that improvement is mandatory.
Stoops was asked about players returning from injuries after spring football. Demarcus Granger, Ryan Reynolds, Demarco Murray, Austin Box, Brody Eldridge, Auston English, and Cordero Moore all missed spring football recovering from injuries or surgeries from last season.
Stoops said all players have been cleared and released for full activities with the exception of one - Demarcus Granger.
"Demarcus isn't quite fully cleared," Stoops said. "He's still working on it."
With a healthy group of linebackers, Stoops had plenty of praise for Ryan Reynolds and Mike Balogun. He also had good things to say about the health of Austin Box as well. And he even hinted that a position change could be in order for Box.
Box could make a potential move to weakside linebacker. It's nothing that's set in stone or even a real possibility, but it is an option the staff will think about.
"Those (middle linebacker) guys are always interchangeable," said Stoops. "Especially middle and (weakside), more so than (strongside)."
When pressed if Reynolds would be the starter at middle linebacker over Balogun and Box, Stoops wouldn't crack on a decision.
"We don't have to start tomorrow so I don't need to do that," said Stoops. "I'm not much on speculation. Ryan was hurt too in the spring, so we'll see."
Being in Tulsa, Stoops was asked about special teams contributions from a couple of Union products, Tress Way and Dominique Franks.
OU released an official depth chart this summer which included Franks as a starter at kick returner and punt returner, while Way is all but certain to handle the punting chores for the Sooners this fall?
"Those guys are good players," said Stoops. "Tress had a strong spring and we expect him to continue to develop and get better through the summer. Dom's an exciting return guy, so those guys should be factors, definitely.
"They have a chance to really impact us in a positive way, as do some other guys, so we'll just see how it unfolds."
That's not to mention Jameel Owens and Stacy McGee's potential contributions as nearby talents from Muskogee.
Stoops did confirm that former Muskogee product Jonta Bumpus is no longer with the program.
"That happened way back last spring and he decided he wanted to transfer," said Stoops.
ALL ABOUT THE GRIFFINS
Last night's Sooner caravan took place in the shadows of Blake Griffin's selection as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft.
Stoops showed a great amount of appreciation for both the Griffin brothers during last night's event.
"I love Blake and I love watching Taylor and the way he played. I'm proud of them and they've handled themselves so well. It'll be exciting. I'm guessing he'll be the first guy taken and it's awesome," said Stoops.
"Complements to Jeff Capel too, he's done an awesome job and it shows what kind of belief kids have in him and the top recruits in the country want to come play for him.
"It says a lot about what Jeff is able to do in the program. I'm proud of him and can't wait to see him picked first."
Stoops actually missed out on being able to see Griffin being picked first as he was quickly shuffled out to the eager crowds awaiting his autograph.