Oklahoma Football Kicks Off New Season with Annual Red-White Spring Game

Dec 31, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;A general view of Oklahoma Sooners helmets in the third quarter of the 2015 CFP Semifinal at the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;A general view of Oklahoma Sooners helmets in the third quarter of the 2015 CFP Semifinal at the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Spring practice for Oklahoma football has been in session for a month now, and it all culminates on Saturday with the annual spring game.

Otherwise known as the Red-White Game, the spring football game, set for a start time of 2 p.m. at new-look Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, brings to a close the spring football practice schedule.

Oklahoma losses some key personnel on offense, but the bigger hit was on the defensive side of the ball, especially at the linebacker position. Gone are starting linebackers Dominique Alexander and Eric Striker. The only returning starter at linebacker is senior Jordan Evans, who is being held out of the spring game while recovering from an injury suffered in the loss to Clemson in last season’s College Football Playoff.

A couple of names to watch for in the spring game are junior Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and sophomore Tay Evans. Expected to play a bigger role in the secondary this coming season is senior Dakota Austin, who replaces All-Big 12 performer Zack Sanchez at cornerback.

Baker Mayfield returns for another season at quarterback for the Sooners, but head coach Bob Stoops has been impressed with the spring performance of freshman Austin Kendall, who has a very good chance of becoming the backup in the fall.

Oct 3, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Dede Westbrook (11) is tackled by West Virginia Mountaineers cornerback Daryl Worley (7) in the first quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Dede Westbrook (11) is tackled by West Virginia Mountaineers cornerback Daryl Worley (7) in the first quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

The Sooners have some big shoes to fill at wide receiver following the departure of Sterling Shepard. Look for a bigger role by senior Dede Westbrook and Penn State transfer Geno Lewis. Jeffrey Mead, Jordan Smallwood and Jarvis Baxter are several other names to watch for at the receiver position as OU enters its second season under the Air Raid offense of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.

The spring game will also mark the public debut of new defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux. A former Sooner who played for Stoops from 2003-07, Thibodeaux was an All-Big 12 defensive end at Oklahoma

It may just be nothing more than a glorified practice and not a real game, but it is the closest thing to football that Sooner fans will get between now and this fall, a full five months off.

The players don’t look at it as just another practice. They know it is a good time to step up and get a leg up on the competition in the battle for playing time come this fall.

Says junior safety Steven Parker, in an article this week in the OU Daily, the university student newspaper, “You’re going all the way to the ground, which you probably don’t do in practice, so it’s a little different. But at the same time, I don’t let the light get too big for me.”

And while we are on the subject of college football, Sooner fans might be happy to learn that ESPN’s “Way-Too-Early Top 25” has the 2016 Oklahoma Sooners projected at No. 5 behind No. 1 Clemson, Alabama, Baylor and Michigan.