Deion Burks Shines in Oklahoma’s Spring Game

Oklahoma football played its Spring Game on Saturday, as Spring practice wound to a close. With multiple portal prospects visiting Norman, both the offense and defense put on a show. It’s often hard to judge scrimmages like this, but Jackson Arnold played well, Deion Burks starred in his OU debut, the defense responded when they needed to, and it was an injury-free game, making it a successful day for Sooner football. With some abnormal scoring guidelines, Team Red (offense) prevailed over Team White (defense) by a score of 65-58.

Recapping the Oklahoma Spring Game

First Quarter

The first drive of the game started well for the offense. Arnold, sporting his new number 11 jersey, scrambled for a first down on third and long and then fired a strike deep down the field to Purdue transfer Deion Burks for a 64-yard touchdown.

True freshman quarterback Michael Hawkins Jr., one of the stars of OU’s Spring camp, took the reins on the offense’s second drive. He showed good accuracy with some quick throws and worked well in the pocket, escaping would-be tacklers multiple times. On fourth-and-one, freshman running back Kalib Hicks found a hole and exploded for a 30-yard touchdown run, giving Red Team an 18-0 lead.  

Arnold reentered the game on the game’s third drive and connected with Deion Burks on a pass of more than 20 yards. Later in the drive, on third-and-thirteen, Arnold moved up in the pocket and hit a check down to Gavin Sawchuk to move the chains. A few plays later, Sawchuk scored on a short run to give the offense a huge lead, 27-0, late in the first quarter.

Team White was desperately in need of a stop and some points as the offense came out for its fourth drive. Luckily, the defense tightened up: Ethan Downs recorded a tackle for loss, R Mason Thomas had a sack, and the unit forced a three-and-out. 

Second Quarter

In between the first and second quarters, a fan was invited onto the field to kick a 25-yard field goal, which he made and awarded four points to Team White.

After a sack from five-star freshman defensive lineman David Stone, the defense forced Team Red to attempt a field goal. Tyler Keltner missed the kick, giving Team White points and making the score 28-12. The defense forced another stop with Hawkins Jr. at quarterback, decreasing the deficit to 12 points.

On Team Red’s next drive, Deion Burks continued his huge day and hauled in a 50-yard touchdown from Jackson Arnold, giving his squad a 37-16 lead. R Mason Thomas racked up another sack and the defense forced stops on two straight drives, making the score 37-24 with about four minutes left in the half.

Defensive lineman Gracen Halton sacked Hawkins twice and the defense forced a three-and-out and brought themselves within seven points as halftime approached. But Arnold and Team Red drove down the field in a hurry before the defense could force them into a fourth-and-ten. Zach Schmit converted a 29-yard field goal to give Team Red a 42-30 lead.

On the final drive of the half, Halton and PJ Adebawore combined for a sack and Davon Sears recorded another sack on the final play of the second quarter. Team Red held a 42-38 lead at halftime.

Third Quarter

General Booty led the offense to begin the second half and led a good drive that culminated in a 32-yard touchdown scamper by Booty and gave Team Red a 53-38 lead. But on the next drive, with Michael Hawkins back in the huddle, PJ Adebawore recorded another sack and forced a three-and-out to give the defense some positive momentum. Team White forced another stop and brought the score closer, 53-48.

Fourth Quarter

Between the quarters, there was a punting competition between the coaches which co-offensive coordinator Joe Jon Finley won, giving three points to the offense. Also to begin the final quarter, twelve points were added to Team Red’s score to generate the final target score of 68.

Davon Sears picked up another sack on the opening drive of the fourth, forcing another three-and-out and making the score 56-51. Team White got even closer on the next drive and took their first lead 58-56, with 6:30 left in the game.

Brendan Zurbrugg, another true freshman signal caller, entered the game for the first time late in the fourth. He converted one third down with a nice scramble and converted on fourth down with a short pass to Trey Brown that turned into a huge gain and tied the game at 58. With just over a minute left, Champan McKown, a five-foot-five redshirt freshman running back, scored from 15 yards out to put Team Red up 65-58. The time expired before either team could reach the 68-point threshold, giving the offense the win.

Jackson Arnold and Deion Burks were the standouts of the day. Arnold finished 10-of-20 for 233 yards and two touchdown passes. Burks hauled in five receptions for 174 yards and two scores; his rapport with Arnold was apparent and he might just be the star receiver OU has been looking for. The Sooners’ next game will be their 2024 season opener on August 30 against Temple in Norman.


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