Published March 21, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. – A little later than planned, Oklahoma is heading back to the football field.
The Sooners started spring practice Monday after a two-week delay because coach Bob Stoops thought the team had fallen behind in conditioning with sessions canceled because of snow.
Yet, Stoops said he's happy with what he's seen from his players approaching the spring and believes they're on the right track after finishing last season on a four-game winning streak that included the Big 12 title and the Fiesta Bowl.
"In the winter, their attitude has been much like it was a year ago in that they were a really fun group to coach because they accepted coaching ... they liked being on the field, they liked competing and they really have done that through the winter," Stoops said.
The impressive finish to the season, combined with relatively few departures after All-American receiver Ryan Broyles and linebacker Travis Lewis decided not to enter the NFL draft, has the Sooners among the early favorites to compete for a national championship next season.
"Regardless of what our expectations or rankings are, our expectations internally are always pretty high. Our whole focus then in talking to them is what are we going to do about it," Stoops said. "How do we go about earning this? That's what we did in the winter and I felt great about the way we came out of that.
"The second part of the whole-year process is spring ball. How are we going to change and develop as a team in what we do on the field? We talk a lot to our guys about earning what you get."
It's been a rocky few weeks for the Sooners since a dominant 48-20 victory against Connecticut in the bowl game. Three starters have been arrested, cornerback Jamell Fleming left the team and the school released details of NCAA rules violations involving four assistant coaches monitoring attendance at workouts that were supposed to be voluntary.
Stoops also expressed disappointment over what some of his players had been posting on their Twitter and Facebook accounts, and said he may create a policy to stop at least some players from using social media.
Still, Stoops said he believes this year's squad has taken the right approach to football because they "do know what it takes" to win.
Gabe Lynn has moved up the depth chart to replace Fleming, and Aaron Colvin has moved from cornerback to safety to fill a spot vacated by senior Jonathan Nelson.
Stoops expects running back Roy Finch (foot), defensive end Ronnell Lewis (concussion) and receiver Dejuan Miller (knee) all to return from injuries and participate this spring. Fullback Trey Millard and tight end Trent Ratterree will be out with shoulder injuries.