The 2014 football season is finally here. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops kicked off the first game week of the season on Monday with his first weekly press conference of the year. Stoops and several players met with the media to talk about the upcoming season and the Sooners' first game against Louisiana Tech. Here are some tidbits from the press conference.
Handling Eligibility Distractions
The Sooners have had an interesting fall camp, dealing with the eligibility of four players throughout the month of August. Freshman running back Joe Mixon has been suspended for the year and Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham had his waiver denied by the NCAA last week.
However, the situation surrounding linebacker Frank Shannon remains unresolved and Texas Tech quarterback transfer Baker Mayfield is also waiting to hear back on his appeal for immediate eligibility.
Shannon's uncertain situation has led Stoops to name sophomore Jordan Evans as the starter at inside linebacker in Shannon's place.
“That situation remains unresolved,” Stoops said. “Therefore, I have to proceed with players I know are going to be available to me for the rest of the year. At this point, the depth chart is what it is.”
Stoops wouldn't comment further on the situation.
Quarterback Trevor Knight said the different situations have had an affect on the team but they haven't allowed the various situations to affect them.
“I think we've done a great job as a team doing that,” Knight said. “We stay around each other in the locker room and we don't allow that stuff to get to us very much. We don't allow it to affect us daily.”
Despite the disappointing end to Mixon and Green-Beckham's situations, Knight said the team hasn't given up on any of the four players going through tough times.
“You obviously want the best for those guys and it hurts to see it go on the opposite side of that line,” Knight said. “You want the best for them and whether or not it works out for them this year, you stay positive with them and hope things will work out in the future.”
Depth Chart Revealed
OU released its first depth chart of the season on Monday as well and there were no real surprises. Several questions were answered, though, including both open starting spots in the secondary.
-Julian Wilson will start at the second cornerback spot, with freshman Jordan Thomas backing him up. Sophomore Dakota Austin is the backup for Zach Sanchez.
-Sophomore Ahmad Thomas won the starting spot at free safety over sophomore Hatari Byrd and freshman Steven Parker.
-Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal and K.J. Young were named starters at wide receiver. Michiah Quick, Jordan Smallwood and Derrick Woods are listed as second-string players.
-Blake Bell is listed as the starter at tight end and Nila Kasitati is the starter at right guard over Dionte Savage and Tony Feo.
-Stoops said this was the healthiest the Sooners have ever been coming out of camp, something that has a lot to do with the great depth the Sooners have across the board, especially at offensive line. Tackle Daryl Williams said the depth made a big difference in the amount of reps he and his fellow linemen got during practice.
-Speaking of Williams, the Sooners announced the team captains on Monday. Williams and Knight are joined as captains by Chuka Ndulue, Eric Striker, Julian Wilson and Michael Hunnicutt.
-Stoops said he and the rest of the staff were “crushed” by the injury to former Sooner and current Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. Stoops said he sent Bradford a text message wishing him well, letting him know everyone in Norman was pulling for him.
-Stoops did confirm reports of Blake Bell throwing passes in practice last week. Stoops said that arose from a desire to redshirt Justice Hansen, along with the injury to Cody Thomas and uncertainty of Baker Mayfield's eligibility.
-As for the Sooners' new alternate uniforms, Stoops said he didn't have a plan for when OU would unveil those on the field.