Oklahoma Spring Game Preview

With Oklahoma’s Spring Game coming this Saturday and the transfer portal opening this past Tuesday, it’s a busy time of the year in Norman. The Sooners will already be hosting visits for potential incoming transfers this weekend, including former SMU center Branson Hickman, and former TCU defensive lineman Damonic Williams. OU will probably be looking to bring in multiple offensive and defensive lineman during this portal cycle, which will end on April 30.

OU’s Spring Game will take place this Saturday @ 1 PM CDT at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. There is a lot of excitement around the Sooners this year, given the starting quarterback situation and the program’s transition to the SEC, but there is still a lot to figure out regarding the team on the field. Here are some of the top position groups to keep an eye on in that game.

Oklahoma Spring Game Preview


For the first time in several years, the Sooners will be starting a very inexperienced quarterback to begin the season. The good news? Jackson Arnold is extremely talented and has the potential to be the next Heisman Trophy winner for the University of Oklahoma.

However, Arnold has still easily been the biggest storyline of the offseason for OU. With Dillon Gabriel gone to Oregon, Arnold has been handed the keys to an offense that finished first in points and yards in the Big 12 in 2023. He’ll have big shoes to fill and reports coming out of spring camp have said that he looks impressive at times but has also struggled with turnovers too.

Arnold had six turnovers in the Sooners’ Alamo Bowl loss to Arizona after not playing much during the regular season. But Arnold is still so young — he’s just 19 years old — and has a lot to learn about playing college football, especially against SEC opponents. However, he has the arm strength, accuracy, and running ability to be every bit as good as past Sooner signal callers who have excelled in Norman. Saturday’s game may not reveal much about Arnold, as spring games have a tendency to be very scripted for first team offenses, but I suspect Arnold will play most of the game. Just like the fans, the coaches want to see what he can do in live game action, even if it is against his own teammates. 

Offensive Line

Oklahoma had some major offensive line attrition this offseason and they’ll need to replace all five starters entering the 2024 season. They did well to bring in some transfers, including Febechi Nwaiwu, Spencer Brown, and Michael Tarquin. It seems like Nwaiwu has won a guard spot, but the other four spots are still very much up for grabs. 

Two weeks ago, Troy Everett, who looked to be the Sooners starting center, was injured and had surgery which will keep him out until the end of fall camp. That was a huge blow to the line, but it will give an opportunity for Josh Bates, a redshirt freshman and former four-star prospect, to prove himself. The Sooners are also pursuing former SMU center Branson Hickman in the portal. He’s played in 35 games over three seasons for the Mustangs.

OU’s Red and White Game on Saturday is sure to feature a lot of rotating offensive linemen, and it’s going to be a very important game for every single lineman on the roster. At this point, head coach Brent Venables and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh have to be considering all of their options. So, be sure to pay close attention to the offensive line on Saturday.

Defensive Line

2023 was a bit of a disappointing year for Oklahoma’s defensive line. They really struggled to rush the passer and finished with just 24 sacks, which ranked 10th in the Big 12. That is a number that will have to improve if the defense wants to be successful in the SEC.

The line has good depth and returns key players like Da’Jon Terry, Ethan Downs, and Adepoju Adebawore. The group also has high-profile freshman additions David Stone and Jayden Jackson, both of whom are expected to contribute meaningful snaps as true freshmen in 2024. However, with the loss of Jacob Lacey for the season (blood clots), no one aside from Terry and Downs has played a lot of collegiate snaps. 

So, while depth might not be an issue right away, the Sooners might be lacking a true game-breaking pass rusher, a piece that nearly every elite defense has. OU will also be breaking in a new defensive coordinator this season in Zac Alley, who is just 30 years old. It will be interesting to see what new wrinkles Alley can find to help this defensive line gain some confidence and rack up sacks.

Visiting Portal Prospects

At the time of writing, the Sooners have prospects from the transfer portal visiting over the weekend: three defensive linemen and one offensive lineman. The Sooners seem to be comfortable with their position groups outside of both line groups, and their portal targets represent their needs. 

Damonic Williams is a defensive lineman who previously played for TCU. He is a rising junior who finished with 33 tackles and three sacks in 2023. Jermayne Lole is a defensive lineman transferring from Louisville, who started his career at Arizona State before playing the last two seasons with Louisville. In 2023, he recorded 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Philip Blidi is the last defensive lineman of the group and will be a fifth-year senior. He began his career at Texas Tech before transferring to Indiana, where he recorded 30 tackles and four tackles for loss in 2023. Branson Hickman is a center who has played three seasons at SMU, where he appeared in 35 games and started 33 of them.

Here’s to a great Spring Game for Oklahoma!


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