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Obervations from Oklahoma's spring game

Caleb and Mario Williams, a young secondary and walk-on receivers are among the stars at the Sooners' annual Red/White Game

NORMAN — Immediate observations from Saturday’s Red/White Game:

  • It was a perfect day for a football game — warm sun, cool breeze, an idyllic setting — even if it was a scrimmage.
  • Although the crowd for Saturday’s Red/White Game was restricted to 25 percent capacity, every available ticket was sold, all 22,700. Oklahoma fans, hungry for football from a team that is generating national championship buzz, got what they came for.
  • The basic format of the scrimmage was No. 1 offense vs. No. 2 defense, and No. 1 defense vs. No. 2 offense.
  • Interestingly, the No. 1 offense scored on its first two drives, a pair of field goals from Gabe Brkic (44 yards, Spencer Jones was the holder) and Zach Schmit (41 yards).
  • A number of players were held out because of either injuries or injury precautions: wide receiver Theo Wease, offensive linemen Tyrese Robinson and Anton Harrison, tight end Brayden Willis, cornerback Woodi Washington, safety Pat Fields, nickel back Jeremiah Criddell, linebacker Brian Asamoah, safety Justin Broiles, linebacker Brynden Walker and defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas.
  • Two other players were conspicuously missing from the roster: running back Seth McGowan and receiver Trejan Bridges. A source said they are suspended from the team after their reported involvement in an alleged assault and robbery.
  • With all the injuries, the No. 2 defense consisted of two true freshman and three second-year players in the secondary: Jordan Mukes, Latrell McCutchin, Bryson Washington, Kendall Dennis and Joshua Eaton.
  • Other true freshmen who got extensive playing time on Saturday: quarterback Caleb Williams, wide receiver Mario Williams, defensive end Nathan Rawlins-Kibonge and outside linebacker Clayton Smith, defensive end Ethan Downs, wide receiver Cody Jackson, nickel back Billy Bowman and quarterback Ben Harris.
  • The first-team offensive line consisted of Wanya Morris at left tackle, Marquis Hayes at left guard, Andrew Raym at center, Chris Murray at right guard and Erik Swenson at right tackle. The second unit was (left to right) Brey Walker, Marcus Alexander, Ian McIver, Darrell Simpson and Aaryn Parks.
  • Fans have been champing at the bit to see SI All-American Mario Williams, and he didn’t disappoint, catching two early passes. But then he took an end-around handoff and never got the ball cleanly, fumbling it away. The fumble was recovered by Josh Ellison.
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  • Jadon Haselwood flashed the 5-star potential that brought him to Norman with so much hype when he brought down a difficult catch — one-handed, left-handed — over Eaton on a stop-fade throw from Caleb Williams.
  • That Haselwood catch was followed up on the last play of the first half by Williams’ 12-yard touchdown throw to Jackson Sumlin, son of former Sooner assistant and ex-Texas A&M and Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin. Another son of a famous former Sooner — Marcellus Crutchfield, son of Gerald McCoy — caught a pass in the game as well. Sumlin later caught another pass over the middle from Williams. Another son of a former Sooner — Major Melson, son of Chris Melson, now the head coach at Mansfield Legacy High School — also caught a pass. All three are walk-on receivers.
  • Bowman got things started in the second half with a 45-yard kickoff return — and tackling was forbidden on special teams returns.
  • On the next play, Spencer Rattler threw a 50-yard bomb over the middle to Mario Williams, who leaped and caught the ball over D.J. Graham. That put Rattler at 100 passing yards for the day.
  • As Rattler and Co. were trying to cash in after the big throw to Williams, Caleb Kelly came up with a big pass deflection at the line of scrimmage. Kelly is coming back from back-to-back knee injuries and showed the kind of anticipation and experience a sixth-year senior should have. That drive resulted in another Brkic field goal from 24 yards.
  • Eric Gray, the running back transfer from Tennessee, got the start over 2020 opt-out Kennedy Brooks. But Gray’s best play came midway through the second half when he took a handoff from Caleb Williams behind left tackle, got through a big hole behind McIver, Finley Felix and others, then put a wicked juke on Mukes on his way to a 19-yard touchdown. Gray had said previously the running back he tries to emulate is Barry Sanders, and his fluid cut on the TD was impressive.
  • Penn State transfer Micah Bowens came on after Gray’s TD to lead the offense. After a quick throw to Colt Atkinson on second down, he kept the chains moving with a quick short keeper on third down.
  • The next play, Jaden Knowles popped an electrifying 32-yard yard run, slicing through the secondary before going down.
  • That set up another dynamic run, this time by Bowens, who executed an option-keeper to the left side and stepped out just before he touched the football over the pylon. Two plays later, Knowles powered in from 2 yards out to give the White team its first lead of the day at 30-27.
  • There was much anticipation over the move of H-back Mikey Henderson to running back, but he didn’t get much action. In fact, his two carries late in the game coming off the goal line cost the White team points: he was thrown for a 2-yard loss on first down, then got dropped for a safety on second down, cutting it to 30-29.
  • The scoring system spotted the defense 21 points and awarded them for stops and turnovers, but the offense chipped away and eventually scored with 4:06 to play to give White the victory.
  • Todd Hudson popped a 37-yard run on the final play to seal the 30-29 victory for the White (offense).