Spring Notebook: QBs, OL and DBs

Bodies have been in short supply this spring on the offensive line as returning starters Tyrus Thompson, Daryl Williams and Adam Shead are all skipping spring practices in order to heal up for summer conditioning.
With the losses of Gabe Ikard and Bronson Irwin to graduation, the offensive line is in a bit of a numbers crunch.
"No," answered Stoops when he was asked if it was fair to evaluate the offensive line so far this spring with so many players missing. "You really can't. The guys who have played a lot are good, but the other guys are getting better.
"Derek Farniok is making progress and so is Sam Grant. They're not there yet, but they get better every day, which is what you expect. They're good kids that work hard. They're doing a nice job Ty Darlington is doing a nice job in there at center."
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Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said the staff is working hard to develop players individually this spring, but he's not concerned about finding a unit bursting with chemistry coming out of these 15 practices spread out through March and April.
"Right now you're working as individuals," he said. "Guys move from 'A' group to 'B' group and back and forth and you have an injury and another guy bumps up. It's about developing not just five guys as a cohesive unit but developing individually and playing with better technique.
"I feel like all those guys are getting better."
Out of all the players practicing for the Sooners this spring, it would appear Darlington is making the most progress toward securing a starting job next season at center.
"It's natural, it's where he's played," said Heupel of Darlington. "When he's had an opportunity to play here he's played well and we expect him to compete at a high level."
Along with Stoops' praise of Farniok and Grant, Heupel singled out Josiah St. John as a player who is coming along nicely this spring.
"Excited to see those guys compete," Heupel said. "We'll find out where we end up here in five or six days."
Initially there was concern heading into spring football about the status of Cody Thomas trying to manage football and baseball.
With just over a week before the Red & White Game to finish off spring football, Bob Stoops is happy with the way things have worked out sharing Thomas with the baseball program.
At least happy from a football perspective.
"It hasn't been an issue for us," said Stoops. "Coach Heupel is figuring out the times to meet with him and he's been at every practice. I hope it hasn't hurt him much in baseball, but it probably has held him back a little bit there. He's probably not where coach Pete (Hughes) would want him to be. But he's doing the best he can."
With Thomas getting some of the most meaningful football reps of his college career this spring, Justice Hansen is just getting his feet wet as a player who could still be in high school.
Hansen enrolled early to be a part of the OU program this spring.
It's been quite an experience according to his coach Josh Heupel.
"It's extremely hard," said Heupel. "There's so much thrown at you so quickly. With seven weeks of being here you're on the practice field going against guys that have been here, been through the system, understand the system and it's getting thrown at you extremely quickly.
"It's overwhelming at times but the first four days before spring break you saw him get better each day. He's come back and he's comprehending things even better. I think by the time you finish spring ball, you get through summer and you come back into fall camp and he'll be really comfortable with what we're doing.
"I expect him to grow by leaps and bounds from the end of the spring to when he comes back for fall camp."
One of the most difficult aspects of playing quarterback at Oklahoma is learning some of the most basic fundamentals of playing the position.
Things like taking a snap from under center.
"We're having to teach these guys how to get under center and take a snap from the center," laughed Heupel. "You know what's amazing is none of the guys did (it in high school). It's just a different era of high school football."
Cortez Johnson appears to be lagging behind Stanvon Taylor and Dakota Austin right now at the starting cornerback spot opposite Zach Sanchez.
Cornerbacks coach Bobby Jack Wright says Johnson suffered an injury recently and even though Stoops wouldn't specify the injury, it isn't expected to keep Johnson out for long.
"Stanvon and Dakota Austin are playing the best out there at corner," said Stoops. "But Cortez is still in that mix very strongly."
Stoops also had nice praise for Ahmad Thomas at safety.
"Ahmad Thomas made a special play the other day - last Saturday. He and Hatari (Byrd) continue to look really good," said Stoops.