Oklahoma football: What to look for in OU’s 2022 Spring Game

First-year OU football coach Brent Venables works with his team during Thursday's practice in Norman.jenni -- jump
First-year OU football coach Brent Venables works with his team during Thursday's practice in Norman.jenni -- jump /

There is nothing more popular and passionate to Sooner fans than Oklahoma football. The fact that Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium has been sold out for 140 consecutive originally scheduled home games in more than evidence of that fact.

The stadium won’t be sold out 12 days from now when OU unveils its annual Red-White Spring Game, although that is precisely what new head coach Brent Venables and his staff would like to see.

The spring game caps off the spring practice schedule and offers Sooner fans and the media an opportunity to get an early look at what they can expect from OU on the field in the fall.

In recent weeks, Venables has been taking every available opportunity to boost fan interest and attendance at the spring game, and Venables isn’t the only party playing up the bigness of the annual spring scrimmage and related activities. Former head coach Bob Stoops as well as the Sooner players have turned to social media encouraging fans to join in the fun and “Pack the Palace” on April 23.

It’s not just the game itself, Venables said when he met with reporters during his weekly press conference last week. it also serves as the backdrop for a huge recruiting weekend. A number of former Sooner players have acknowledged via social media that they will be in attendance at the game.

It also is the date that the Baker Mayfield Heisman statue will be dedicated and unveiled in its rightful place among the other Oklahoma Heisman winners in Heisman Park just outside the stadium on the east side.

Venables shared how this year’s spring game will be formatted:

"“We’re going to split the teams up,” he said. “We’re gonna split ’em up and have a draft and go true Red-White. We’ll take our two best guards and put them on opposite teams, and we’ll take our two best tight ends and split ’em up.“We’ll being doing that kind of a format just so you’ll know.”"

Venables emphasized that he and his Sooner coaches are not approaching this as just another spring game.

“Although this is quote, unquote, just a spring game, it’s an opportunity for us as coaches to be able to measure and quantify improvement from the beginning to the end,” the new Sooner head coach said.

“And so we can survey where our team is and what was good, what wasn’t so good and an opportunity to create some momentum going into our offseason program this summer.”

Oklahoma has had as many as 40,000 fans attend Red-White spring games in the past. Venables would like nothing better than to see that many fans or more show up for the game this year.

"“Everything we do matters in this program,” Venables said. “How we show up (at) the spring game matters. We’re gonna have recruits here, it matters.”"

Venables wants the spring game to be a launching point for the intensity, enthusiasm and Sooner pride he expects to see from fans in the fall when the real games begin…and beyond when Oklahoma joins the football-crazed SEC.

Venables issued a call to action to Sooner football fans:

"“We talk about this program being one of the most tradition-rich and best programs in the history of college football…then show up with some pride on the 23rd.”"