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OU football: 3 positions to watch in spring game

OU’s spring game will kick off Friday night under the lights of Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Here are three positions to keep an eye on:

Quarterback

Jalen Hurts’ Sooner debut will be the headline event. His scrambling skills will be diminished as there won’t be any tackling of the quarterbacks, but it’s his throwing that coaches and fans will want to see in the simulated environment.

Hurts has already compiled an OU highlight reel with clips of his weight lifting and more from his introductory press conference, but Friday will offer the first look at Hurts leading Lincoln Riley’s offense.

While there’s still a so-called quarterback competition between Hurts and redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai, the Alabama transfer is the clear front runner.

Mordecai, with a strong showing, could at least take a step in showing it’s a true competition. Mordecai already has a head start on incoming freshman Spencer Rattler, OU’s five-star quarterback signee who won’t arrive until the summer.

Offensive line

Oklahoma returned just one of five starters from its Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line. That lone returnee, sophomore center Creed Humphrey, has been held out this spring with an injury.

So Friday will provide a glimpse at a new-look group up front. Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has been hot and cold on the progress of the young unit, but despite its inexperience, Bedenbaugh is bullish on the talent.

Sophomore Adrian Ealy and redshirt freshman Brey Walker could be possible starters at the two tackles. Sophomores Marquis Hayes and Tyrese Robinson could win the starting guard jobs.

Notice the lack of upperclassmen along the offensive line, and how much of a contrast that is from last season.

Defensive back

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has taken over in the safeties room, and Roy Manning is the new cornerbacks coach.

Oklahoma allowed 294 passing yards per game last season — more than any other team in the country. Change was necessary.

The new energy Grinch and Manning have brought to the defensive backfield should be felt Friday. While it’s hard to gauge how the front seven plays in a spring game setting, pressure will be on the defensive backs against a star group of Sooner receivers.

Sophomore safeties Delarrin Turner-Yell and Patrick Fields have impressed in spring camp, but there’s still a concern in depth. Where will Brendan Radley-Hiles line up after falling out of favor at the end of last season? How will Parnell Motley and Tre Brown perform at corner?

There are plenty of questions in OU’s defensive backfield.

Related Photos
<strong>A lot of eyes will be on Jalen Hurts, who is favored to replace Kyler Murray as Oklahoma's starting quarterback. Fans will get their first glimpse of Hurts as OU's signal caller during Friday's spring game. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN]</strong>

A lot of eyes will be on Jalen Hurts, who is favored to replace Kyler Murray as Oklahoma's starting quarterback. Fans will get their first glimpse of Hurts as OU's signal caller during Friday's spring game. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-cc6cdcd0301bf93a4dc4901e07260c43.jpg" alt="Photo - A lot of eyes will be on Jalen Hurts, who is favored to replace Kyler Murray as Oklahoma's starting quarterback. Fans will get their first glimpse of Hurts as OU's signal caller during Friday's spring game. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" A lot of eyes will be on Jalen Hurts, who is favored to replace Kyler Murray as Oklahoma's starting quarterback. Fans will get their first glimpse of Hurts as OU's signal caller during Friday's spring game. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> A lot of eyes will be on Jalen Hurts, who is favored to replace Kyler Murray as Oklahoma's starting quarterback. Fans will get their first glimpse of Hurts as OU's signal caller during Friday's spring game. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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