Chat with Jake Trotter
Welcome to SoonerNation! On Monday, writer Jake Trotter stops by to chat about everything Oklahoma.
Trotter joined ESPN.com in 2011 after four years with The Oklahoman covering OU and Big 12 football. Before that, he worked at the Austin American-Statesman and Middletown (Ohio) Journal. Trotter grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from Washington & Lee (Va.) University.
Send your questions now and join Trotter Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Jake Trotter (4:00 PM)
We'll get rolling in a sec. Keep sending in those questions. Lot of good ones so far.
Antonio Perkins Ghost (OKC)
OU's return game looked defunct on Saturday. Knowing that we have a few possible playmakers coming in, what do you think will happen there? Personally, I feel like Durron Neal might be just what we need there. Thoughts?
Jake Trotter (4:04 PM)
I would be surprised if Kenny Stills isn't returning punts. Stoops feels comfortable with him back there, that he won't drop the ball. Problem with that is that Stills doesn't strike me as homerun threat. Neal, Shepard and others will have a chance to factor into the return game, on punt and kickoff returns. Those two need to be better than they have.
Paul (Broken Arrow)
How much do you see OU using their new Tight Ends this year?
Jake Trotter (4:05 PM)
They didn't use the tight ends much last year, and had two experienced seniors. So I don't see the TEs being a big part of the offense next season. Maybe 20 catches combined?
Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)
Hey Jake, who is going to be OU's best pass-catching TE going into fall practice? Thanks!
Jake Trotter (4:06 PM)
Brannon Green surprised a lot of people with his hands in the spring, but he had like 15 catches in two years in junior college. Ultimately, Taylor McNamara will be the "pass-catching" tight end.
What potential recruits did show up Saturday other than ward?
Jake Trotter (4:07 PM)
Bob has a full list on the premium board.
What is the word on Joseph Ibiloye, what was injured? Is Nelson having trouble or was him on second team part of Bob's crazy lineup's in the spring games?
Jake Trotter (4:08 PM)
Ibby just banged up his shoulder. Stoops said he expected him to be fine in a week. I think it's a combination of both. Mike wants to play 6 DBs at times, and that leaves Nelson as the odd man out. But Mike also said Nelson had been too inconsistent throughout the spring, which is ironic considering his was the MVP of the spring last year. Nelson apparently turned a corner in the last week, and played pretty well in Red-White game. He'll still be a big part of the defense.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Have the Sooners been able to mend any fences with Justin Manning? And will this impact DJ Ward or other recruits at all?
Jake Trotter (4:09 PM)
Manning is going to take some time. I'm not sure whether Ward will become one of those guys that recruits other players, like a Brennan Clay. Guess we'll see.
Joel (Niagara Falls, NY) [via mobile]
Mr. Trotter, OU (football) has been the biggest beneficiary of the BCS system since its inception, however, there's a strong sense of vast underperformance among those of us who are avid, long-time fans of the program. Aside from title game Ws & Ls, decades past include almost annual upset loses to the likes of, say, Iowa St., Colorado or Kansas St. Do Norman's local Sooner boosters feel the same way, and if so, where do they place culpability for it ? Thank you.
Jake Trotter (4:10 PM)
I'll let those of you following the chat answer this question... send in your comments and I'll post them here in a bit.
Derrick Woods Dad (Cali)
After Spring ball, I'm not really sure where my son (Derrick) fits into the equation, though I still think he's good. He just going to be WR depth for now? He doesn't get the mentions that some of other guys do.
Jake Trotter (4:13 PM)
Derrick definitely is the overlooked WR in this class. Part of that is proximity (Neal, Metyoer are all from neighboring states Shepard is an OKC kid). But Woods also was rated the lowest among OU WRs by the recruiting services. Woods will have his chance in the fall, but with so many other options at the position, it's hard not to see him redshirting.
Juco Football Fan (Small town)
Green, Everett and Nelson all looked decent on Saturday. Talk to about Latu, Gardner and Williams real chances to contribute when they hit the ground based off post Spring evaluations. Who is your new Juco kid MVP at the end of the season?
Jake Trotter (4:15 PM)
Latu will be a backup OT and Williams figures to play a lot behind Whaley. But based on what I've heard about him, Gardner definitely has the best chance of making an instant impact. I love his skill set, and I think he complements the rest of the WR corps well. He's my pick to be the JUCO MVP.
which recruits coming in the fall do you thnk makes an impact this year? plus what recruits could commit after this weekend
Jake Trotter (4:17 PM)
Other than the JUCO guys, Neal, Shepard, and Gary Simon could all play right away. I'll leave it to Bob to project commitment timetables.
Timbo (Newburgh IN)
Hey Jake,Which of the incoming freshmen do you expect will redshirt? Any true sophomores you expect might also redshirt?Thanks....
Jake Trotter (4:19 PM)
It's very rare a true sophomore redshirts, unless it's because of injury. You're either ready to play right away or you're not. I think most of this class will redshirt. Sam Grant, Gary Simon, Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard could all play right away.
Will our secondary be the weakest area of the team this season?
Jake Trotter (4:20 PM)
On the contrary. I think it could be the strength of the defense. Jefferson, Colvin, Hurst are stars. The key is Javon Harris, but he's rebounded really well in the spring. Plus, I see more guys being ready to play next season, which should make it a deeper unit. I have more concerns about the d-line than the secondary.
What seems to be the weakest link on the Sooner's football team?
Jake Trotter (4:22 PM)
Right now, it's defensive line. There's no proven difference makers there, and you need at least a couple to put constant pressure on the QB without blitzing.
I am going to ask this each week until I get he get's on campus, did I mention thanks for doing this. :) Any news on Gardner?
Jake Trotter (4:23 PM)
Thanks, Donnie. Gardner told us last week that he's on schedule academically to join the team this summer. I'm taking his word for it.
I have heard mixed reactions. Some say the running game was great and others are saying the OL can't run block. Which is it? Where they good or bad at run blocking? Or was the DL just that bad?
Jake Trotter (4:25 PM)
I don't know what game those people watched, but the first-team o-line dominated the defense with very basic plays on the first three drives. After that it was hard to evaluate because there was so much mixing and matching. By several accounts, that's been the case in most practices -- the o-line plowing through the d-line. I know Casey Walker and Stacy McGee have been out, but still. This has a chance to be a very good run-blocking o-line, maybe the best since 2008.
I haven't read much about anyone giving the juco transfer williams a shot at playing time this season..from what film I did watch he looked explosive..explosive enough in my opinion to be in the starting rotation..what do you think?
Jake Trotter (4:27 PM)
I give Damien Williams a chance to play a lot. Dominique Whaley is the starter if he's healthy. But playing time is wide open after that, and Williams definitely has the talent to secure consistent carries.
After watching the progression of the receivers in the spring do you think we may have have to many high profile wrs?
Jake Trotter (4:28 PM)
I assume you're insinuating there are not enough balls to go around. I don't really buy that. This isn't the NFL, and none of these guys are proven enough to demand the ball.
Was the run blocking better than in the past? Or was the DL bad. I have heard mix reactions on OU's ability to run in the spring game.
Jake Trotter (4:30 PM)
Don't put too much stock into the spring game. At best, it was a glorified scrimmage. And with the QB and the FB playing only 1-2 drives, it's not fair to judge the o-line on that.
I think what Josh was asking about is the up the middle runs, you know those short yardage plays that we had to bring in the Belldozer to get anything, was the line doing a better job in opening up holes in the middle?
Jake Trotter (4:30 PM)
Yes, the line has been doing better in non-Belldozer power running plays.
Good to hear. So is Phillips going to work his way into a starting role. Walker, McGee, and McFarland have been ok, just nothing special. Phillips seems to be a difference maker and ready to start this season. Will it happen?
Jake Trotter (4:32 PM)
Nah, I don't see Phillips starting until 2013. Right now, they've avoided even naming him the No. 4 DT. Walker, McFarland, McGee will comprise the DT position, unless something unexpected happens.
Kris (Des Moines)
Has Kenny Stills through the spring learned yet that he needs worry less about his hair and more about his game or he will be watcihing the Sooner offense this fall instead of participating in it??
Jake Trotter (4:33 PM)
If the spring game wasn't a wake up call, I don't know what is. Metoyer was the best WR in that game.
Jake Trotter (4:34 PM)
An answer to Joel (Niagara Falls, NY)'s question about how the locals view the BCS losses...
Re: the "annual losses" to the dregs. I don't think this is even factually true. Last year's losses were to one poor team that nobody thought was poor at the time and two of the best offenses in the country. 2010 saw two losses on the road to highly dangerous opponents finding themselves at the right time. 2009 was a transition year, but the worst loss was still probably Miami? 2008 brought losses to Texas and UF. 2007 did have CU. 2006? Oregon and Texas. That's not a lot of stinkers.It's also not a realistic expectation to win every single game every single year. Show me a team in the last forty years that has won every single game or never been upset over twelve years. OU's run of seven Big XII titles in the Stoops era is incredibly impressive in an increasingly competitive league. In Barry's day, there were two legitimate threats in conference. Now, depending on the year, there might be half a dozen.
Jake Trotter (4:34 PM)
There you go, Joel.
Is Kass Everett still adjusting to the speed of D1 football or is he just not as good as we thought?
Jake Trotter (4:35 PM)
Anyone who assumed he was good enough to start right away was just getting carried away with the hype. If Everett was a potential All-American, Alabama, LSU and USC would have been recruiting him, too. That said, he is still adjusting to D1 speed and the schemes in the defense. I don't see him being a big factor this season.
Has Norvell said anything about working with Kenny and Jaz about catching balls?
Jake Trotter (4:36 PM)
Nothing specific, but I haven't talked with Norvell since the spring game, either.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think Landry Jones will mature enough this season, to avoid the key mistakes that have plagued him throughout his career, and lead the Sooners to tough road victories in Morgantown and Fort Worth. Do the Sooners need to at least split these games to have any shot to win the Big XII?
Jake Trotter (4:38 PM)
I'm not sure a split will get it done, but splitting is a must if the Sooners want to win the Big 12. Jones was mature enough to beat OSU, Nebraska away from Norman in 2011. And that was two years ago.
Can you elaborate on what fans can expect from the offense this year from a play calling stand point? Will our bread and butter be short passes, then running to keep the D off balance? Could we see any reemergence of 'gadget' style plays?
Jake Trotter (4:40 PM)
I don't see the offense being much different than last year from a scheme viewpoint. Josh Heupel is who he is. That means a lot of short passes, and mixing in the jet sweeps, pitchout to maintain some balance.
Kris (Des Moines)
Why only one series for LJ? Is the coaching really convinced that he as learned in the offeseason to step up into the pocket and deliver a throw instead bailing out 20 yards into his own backfield before falling down?
Jake Trotter (4:41 PM)
Not worth the risk of him getting hurt. Landry needs work in a couple of areas (footwork, decision-making), but the spring game alone is not going make a big difference either way.
If you had to make a prediction today, who would be the starting OLB? Is Wort working on getting a little more meat on him? Not saying he is injury prone but it could help and I love the kids attitude.
Jake Trotter (4:42 PM)
Corey Nelson, and if Wort gains too much weight he won't be able to run at the speed he needs to.
Assuming Tyrus Thompson is a legit threat to start at LT, is Lane Johnson back in the picture as a potential RT starter? Or would Lane be the primary backup at both positions?Also: everybody calm down. What is with the hysteria today?
Jake Trotter (4:44 PM)
Ha, we like to freak out now and again here on the chat. No, Daryl Williams apparently has locked down the starting job at RT. They've been very pleased with him. When Latu gets on campus, I could see him being the backup there at RT with Farniok. Lane and Tyrus are staying on the left side.
Danzel Williams has looked really good in the videos that have come out of Spring Ball, will he be getting some carries this year? Has any of the RB's had an issue with fumbleitis this spring?
Jake Trotter (4:46 PM)
I haven't heard of anyone going through what Brandon Williams did last year. Williams has looked good, but it's a crowded backfield. I could see him getting a series here or there, but I don't expect him to get consistent carries with Whaley, Finch, Clay, Millard and Damien Williams all in the fold.
Rainy ( Oklahoma)
6 DBs on the field sounds a bit nuts to me, even in a pass happy league. 1. Will it work? 2. Does OU have that many quality DBs to put on the field?
Jake Trotter (4:48 PM)
Ask this question. When is the last time somebody lined up and ran over OU? Then ask this. When is the last time somebody threw all over the field on OU? The latter happens a lot more often than the former. Mike just wants to be sure he has that in his holster if he needs to go to it.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
If you have to pick one player who will surprise Sooners fans and have a breakout season. Who would it be?
Jake Trotter (4:49 PM)
Hmm... what about Joe Ibiloye? I'm not saying he's going to be a star. But he could see a lot of snaps next season. I think he'd do well with the playing time.
Kris (Des Moines)
I have kept hearing that Blake Bell had a big arm, but had not seen it in the video I had seen of him before Saturday. The throw to Jaz rolling to his right......WOW
Jake Trotter (4:49 PM)
Yeah, he has a howitzer.
How has McNamara looked at blocking?
Jake Trotter (4:50 PM)
All right. He's not Brannon Green, though.
Is Thompson going to get to see the field this year? Kid has some wheels, why not try him on the KR's?
Jake Trotter (4:52 PM)
No. He does have quick feet, but I'm not sure that would translate well to returns. You need to be able to hold on to the ball, and I'm not convinced Thompson could withstand some head-on blows. Plus, he seems to have more lateral quickness than straight-line speed, which you need to be an effective kick returner.
Jake Trotter (4:54 PM)
Guys, that's it for the chat this week. Thanks for all the questions. We'll do it again next week, same time, same place. Until then, have a great week.