Dallas Colleges: Aaron Franklin

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
9:40
AM CT
The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

A different vibe during OU-Texas week

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
10:00
AM CT
NORMAN, Okla. -- A statement from Oklahoma guard Adam Shead explains it all.

“Everybody is on edge.”

[+] EnlargeDemarco Cobbs
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireOklahoma knows it will face a higher intensity level in the Cotton Bowl Saturday.
Those words came from the mouth of the Sooners’ junior when he was asked how things change in the halls of the Switzer Center during OU-Texas week. The Sooners football facility is full of anticipation each October as OU prepares to battle its rival at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

“Everyone knows this is a big game, a big week and what this rivalry means to each one of these programs,” Shead said. “We all know the meaning of this game to Oklahoma fans, to this university, to recruitment and to Texas fans.”

The Sooners insist their focus and intensity is high every week but that’s just coaches’ speak. OU turns it up for the Longhorns and it has helped the Sooners win three straight Red River Rivalry contests. It’s been complete domination as the Sooners’ offense is averaging 48.7 points and 496.7 yards per game while holding UT to 19.3 points and 307 yards per game in the last three meetings.

“… You could say we’re a little more focused, because we know who it is and we don’t want to lose,” linebacker Aaron Franklin said.

This year’s senior class is trying to become the eighth senior class from either school to go 4-0 in the Red River Rivalry since 1970 and the sixth group of Sooners seniors to accomplish that feat. Yet that same group of seniors has suffered home losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State along with a road setback at Baylor, in games the Sooners were expected to win.

But the lead up to those games simply doesn’t compare to OU-Texas week. The atmosphere outside the facility among fans and students can’t help but seep into the halls of the Switzer Center.

“Five times today I had random people stop me and say things to me,” defensive end Geneo Grissom said earlier this week. “This game might as well be a bowl game for us. It’s one of the biggest games of the year. It’s a game where we practice at a different level, and it’s always an exciting week.”

Said Franklin: “It changes a lot, you see on social media and you feel it in the community. People just want us to beat Texas.”

And they have under Bob Stoops, with a 9-5 record against the Longhorns during the veteran head coach’s time in Norman. The Sooners insist their preparation remains consistent throughout the year but nothing is like OU-Texas week.

“We go hard every week but Texas-OU we go hard times ten,” Grissom said. “It’s Texas, our biggest rival, every year we come in and Texas is the underlined team. We want to play our very best against Texas. Texas-OU is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Oklahoma Sooners spring wrap

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
9:48
AM CT
OKLAHOMA SOONERS

2012 record: 10-3

2012 conference record: 8-1 (tied for first, Big 12)

Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 4; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

RB Damien Williams, FB Trey Millard, WR Jalen Saunders, WR Sterling Shepard, C Gabe Ikard, DE/DT Chuka Ndulue, LB Corey Nelson, CB Aaron Colvin

Key losses

QB Landry Jones, WR Justin Brown, WR Kenny Stills, OT Lane Johnson, DE David King, CB Demontre Hurst, FS Tony Jefferson, SS Javon Harris

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Damien Williams* (946 yards)
Passing: Landry Jones (4,267yards)
Receiving: Kenny Stills (959 yards)
Tackles: Tony Jefferson (119)
Sacks: Chuka Ndulue* (5)
Interceptions: Javon Harris (6)

Spring answers

1. Playmakers abound: The Sooners might have lost leading receivers Kenny Stills and Justin Brown, but there’s plenty of firepower back to support whoever wins the starting quarterback job. Jalen Saunders was actually Oklahoma’s most efficient receiver the second half of last season and seems primed to take over as the go-to target. The Sooners also have several talented up-and-coming receivers who had good springs, led by slot extraordinaire Sterling Shepard. The backfield is even deeper, with leading rushers Damien Williams and Brennan Clay back, to go along with Trey Millard, one of the top all-around fullbacks in the country.

2. Cortez will flank Colvin: The secondary was decimated by graduation and Tony Jefferson’s early entry into the NFL draft. One of those voids was cornerback, where Demontre Hurst had started the previous years. That void at least, however, appears to have been filled. Arizona transfer Cortez Johnson seized the job from the first day of spring drills, and has given the Sooners every indication to believe they’ll have a big, physical corner to pair with All-American candidate Aaron Colvin in the fall.

3. The linebackers will play: In a desperate move to slow down the high-powered passing attacks of the Big 12, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops pulled his linebackers off the field. The plan backfired, as opposing offenses ran at will over the linebacker-less Sooners. This spring, Stoops has renewed his commitment to the linebacker, which, ironically, could be the strength of the defense. Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon and Aaron Franklin are all athletic and capable of generating negative plays, something Oklahoma’s defense sorely lacked last season.

Fall questions

1. Who the QB will be in October: Bob Stoops said he would wait until the fall before naming a starter, and so far, he’s made good on his word. Junior Blake Bell took a lead in the competition during the spring, as expected. But sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, who both got equal reps as Bell, played well at times, too. It’s hard to see Bell not starting the first game. But if he struggles against a tough September schedule, it’s not unthinkable one of the younger QBs would be given a shot.

2. How the new offense will fare: Looking to utilize the skill sets of their mobile quarterbacks, the Sooners will be running a very different offense from the one Sam Bradford and Landry Jones both operated. Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel kept most of these new plays - including loads of read option -- in his hip pocket during the spring game. But it will be interesting to see how the Sooners -- and just as important, opposing defenses -- adjust to this new era of offense in Norman.

3. Defensive line play: The Sooners went into spring ball with just three defensive tackles on the roster, and little experience at defensive end. The unit showed strides during the spring, with Chuka Ndulue making a smooth transition from end to tackle, and tackle Jordan Phillips coming up big in the spring game. But that was the spring. The defensive line will have to continue to grow rapidly in the fall for the Sooners to have any hope of improving from last year defensively.

Nelson, OU linebackers feeling rejuvenated

March, 20, 2013
3/20/13
1:30
PM CT


NORMAN, Okla. -- It’s hard to remember now, but just two springs ago, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops called then-sophomore linebacker Corey Nelson the “best player” on his defense and said “it’s not close.”

Nelson is a senior now. And, finally, it appears the Sooners are going to give him the opportunity to deliver on Stoops’ proclamation.

[+] EnlargeCorey Nelson
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsCorey Nelson had just 45 tackles for the Sooners in 2012, down from his 2011 total.
“I’m really looking forward to playing again,” Nelson said. “(Not playing) has ignited a fire under me.”

Nelson has reason to have fire in his belly this spring.

After a promising freshman campaign followed by that dominating spring, Nelson figured to be on the cusp of stardom two seasons ago.

Sporadic playing time since, though, has stymied Nelson’s development -- to the point he thought of joining fellow linebacker Tom Wort and leaving Oklahoma.

“We had conversations, multiple conversations, just throughout the season, just talking about how frustrated he was, and how frustrated I was at times,” Nelson said.

Those frustrations stemmed from the Sooners’ defensive regime change from Brent Venables to Mike Stoops.

While Venables built his defenses around his linebackers, Mike Stoops consigned Wort and Nelson to plugging gaps and funneling tackles to the safeties.

(Read full post)

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