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New Oklahoma Sooner Burks Shines in Spring Game


Apr 20, 2024; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Deion Burks (6) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the Oklahoma Sooners spring game at Gaylord Family OK Memorial Stadium. Mandatory
© Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

 

In the long and storied history of Oklahoma Sooners football, this day was special. This is the first time the Sooners had a Spring Football Game heading into the SEC. Deion Burks was one of the top transfer portal players at his position, and on Saturday afternoon he showed why. The Red(offense) beat the White(defense) 65-58.



 

Sooner Offense Jumps Out Early


Jackson Arnold found a new weapon in Deion Burks, and he found him early. The Sooner quarterbacks found him often at the Sooner Spring Game held Saturday at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium. Arnold hit Burks for a 64-yard touchdown strike, showing his route-running ability and speed. The score was made possible by Arnold scrambling for a first down to keep the drive going. The Sooner offense jumped out to an early 27-0 advantage using modified scoring rules for the spring game.


The next possession saw freshman legacy quarterback Michael Hawkins Jr lead the offensive team to another score capped off by the leading rusher on the day Kalib Hicks's 30-yard touchdown on a fourth down. Hicks finished the day with 10 carries for 62 yards and one touchdown. The redshirt freshman from Denton, Texas looked to claim a spot in the rotation at the running back position, in what should be a stacked room.


The offense was paced by a quartet of quarterbacks led by Arnold and Hawkins Jr. Brendan Zurbrugg, the freshman dual-threat quarterback out of Alliance High School in Ohio, was 1-3 on the day for 47 yards through the air and added 14 yards on two carries. The guy with one of the most popular names in sports, General Booty saw action in the game and got the crowd going with his 32-yard touchdown scamper. Booty was 2-5 for 4 yards through the air. Full circle quarterback Casey Thompson did not play, as he is still healing from last year's knee injury he suffered quarterbacking the Florida Atlantic Owls. Overall, the quarterbacks were 18-40 for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns, both thrown by Arnold.


 


Defense Shows Improvement and Room for Growth

The much-maligned Sooner defense took to the field looking to show the football world they are ready to head into the SEC. At first, it appeared to be more of the same for Sooner fans watching big play after big play. Defensively for the White team returners Billy Bowman Jr, Woodi Washington, and Da'Jon Terry all did not play Saturday. The buzz is about the incoming freshmen in the middle like David Stone, and his IMG Academy teammate Jayden Jackson. The two Freshman defensive linemen are up over the 300-pound mark and showed why they were both highly sought-after recruits.


The defensive leader Danny Stutsman continued to show why he is one of the top returning linebackers in the country. Stutsman had 3 tackles for the game, and the defense settled in and put continued pressure on the Red team. The defense amassed eight sacks on the day and Adepoju Adebawore led the defensive team with 2 sacks. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound sophomore from Kansas City, Missouri showed why he was a five-star recruit using the speed rush off the edge.


At times the offense ran the ball at a decent clip, but the defense rallied and made the game interesting down the stretch. The thing that stood out to me was the sure tackling and hitting through the opposition. Guys like freshman defensive back Michael Boganowski and redshirt sophomore linebacker Kobie McKinzie had no regard for the well-being of their teammates as they brought speed and power to their tackles. The defensive line was impressive especially due to the depth and the wave of pressure they kept on the offense all game.



 


Takeaways from the Oklahoma Sooners Spring Game

Sometimes when we see spring football games, we want to see the players that give us hope heading into next year. For the Sooners, the task is a tall one with the move to the historic SEC, long ballyhooed as the best conference in all of college football. An announced crowd of 45,861 fans paid their fifteen dollars and watched Team 130 start the journey.


The offense is in good hands with Jackson Arnold and Michael Hawkins. Arnold is the clear-cut starter and will lead this team into a daunting season of new challenges. The running back room is going to be deep with Gavin Sawchuk, Kalib Hicks, Jovante Barnes, and Sam Franklin the transfer from the University of Tennessee Martin. All have a chance to see carries, as well as incoming top running back recruit Taylor Tatum, who has not stepped on campus yet. Sooner fans may like Franklin and compare him to a Sooner icon, Quentin Griffin.


While Burks led the day and grabbed all the headlines, the three returning wide receivers that did not play only make the passing game dangerous as always. Nic Anderson, Andrel Anthony, and Jalil Farooq all sat out of the spring game. Those three, as well as a big receiver like Jayden Gibson and a speedster like Brenen Thompson, make this a dangerous group.


The offensive line was both good and bad. The Sooners should be shopping for an offensive lineman or two in the remaining days of the transfer portal. The run-game blocking looked good as well, and the pass protection was spotty at best. Michael Tarquin, the redshirt senior transfer from USC, looked like he solidified his spot at left tackle. With an offseason and camp, Bill Bedenbaugh should put together a solid offensive line.


 

Defensively this is the group that national media and the fan base want to see improve under the leadership of Brent Venables and his protégé Zach Alley. The defensive duo faces just as much of a daunting task as the new co-offensive coordinators Seth Littrell and Joe Jon Finley have ahead of them.


Danny Stutsman is the leader of this defense along with Billy Bowman Jr. The line depth and the motor on some of these guys will need to be consistent as they head to SEC action. David Stone and Jayden Jackson look to be SEC-style defensive linemen. Ethan Downs showed improvement from last year in shedding blockers and getting to the ball. As previously mentioned, with the way Boganowski hit his friends and teammates, Sooner Nation should be eager to see what he does to the opposition.


There were still many busts, especially early in the game but let's not overreact to a spring game. After all, they had a fan kick a field goal that counted for the offense, and a coaching punt contest, which awarded points to the side of the ball the coach with the longest punt had. Now Oklahoma did not go the route of Ole Miss and their carnival setting "Spring Game."


Sooner fans saw things they liked and things that should be a concern heading into a new era of Sooner football. All in all, Team 130 in their first showing looked the part, however looming on the horizon is the toughest season schedule in the history of Sooner football. With the upcoming schedule and taking on so many new challenges a 7–8-win season is probably what awaits the Sooners in their first season in the SEC.



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