NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma closed out spring ball with its Red-White spring game over the weekend.
Here's what we learned from it:
1. Austin Kendall shows he's ready to be the backup QB: With Trevor Knight transferring to Texas A&M, Cody Thomas giving up football to focus on baseball and Kyler Murray not eligible until 2017, Kendall arrived in Norman this spring as the de facto backup quarterback to Baker Mayfield. Bob Stoops has been raving about Kendall's maturity all spring, and Saturday, Kendall was cool in his public debut. On his first series, he led the offense down the field before finishing off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown dash. Kendall finished 8-of-17 passing for 52 yards on a gusty afternoon, and while he wasn't spectacular, he was certainly solid. “He just gets better and better,” said offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. “This kid should be getting ready to go to prom. ... and he handled (the spring game) great. He had a great look in his eye from the beginning. This was a great step for him."
2. Murray is a playmaker: On his first snap of the spring game, Murray flashed just why he was a five-star prospect coming out of high school. The Texas A&M transfer kept the ball on a zone-read and sprinted his way 25 yards down the field. All told, Murray connected on 6 of 10 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns, including a 52-yard bomb to Michiah Quick. He also ran for a touchdown. "Kyler, he can make plays," Stoops said. "He's exciting. He's really got a live arm, too." Assuming 2016 turns out to be Mayfield's final season, the quarterback battle in 2017 between Murray and Kendall could be a fascinating one.
3. Rodney Anderson could boost a loaded backfield: In Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, the Sooners boast arguably the top running back combination in college football. But with Perine still nursing an ankle injury and Mixon playing sparingly in the spring game, it was Anderson who shined with a couple of explosive plays out of the backfield. When asked if Anderson, who missed almost all of his first season in college with a leg injury, could help the Sooners this year, Stoops answered immediately. "Absolutely. He would've (helped the offense) a year ago had he not gotten hurt. He's moving well."
4. Offensive line taking shape: Oklahoma's offensive line was one of the Big 12's most improved units last season, helping fuel the Sooners' second half surge to the playoff. Though Oklahoma was left replacing a pair of All-Big 12 performers from last season in Ty Darlington and Nila Kasitati, the offensive line already appears to be set going into the fall, with Cody Ford and Ben Powers manning the guard positions alongside returning starters Jonathan Alvarez, Orlando Brown and Dru Samia -- all three of whom could warrant All-Big 12 consideration this season.
5. Receiving rotation crystallizing: With All-AmericanSterling Shepard having graduated, receiver seemed to be a major offseason concern. But in the spring game, the receiving corps began to reveal definition. Alongside shoe-in starter Dede Westbrook (who had a 65-yard reception) and tight end Mark Andrews, A.D. Miller and Jordan Smallwood produced big plays. Quick had the 52-yard touchdown. And though he had a lackluster spring game, dropping a touchdown pass, Dahu Green has reportedly turned heads in the closed scrimmages. To defend its Big 12 title, Oklahoma needs its young receivers to emerge. The Sooners have to feel better about that now than before the spring. "I think the overall group will have more guys in the rotation that will be productive," Stoops said. "We have more (receivers) ready to play than a year ago."