Moments after stretching and a short individual period, the Owls convened into one of the most famous football drills known to man, the Oklahoma drill.
With a chorus of Division I athletes chanting the bass-line to The White Stripe’s “Seven Nation Army”, Kenny Harper took the ball for the first face-off. Harper, who is fighting off countless teammates to retain his starting position, flourished in the drill, winning two of his three match-ups.
Despite Harper’s strong performance, however, the defense proved victorious in the long run as the various different versions of offenses and defenses faced off. The reward for the victorious side was a knock off WWE championship belt, hoisted by coach Matt Rhule.
Upon receiving the belt, the defensive line and linebackers, including linebackers Tyler Matakevich and Nate D. Smith, led the victorious unit in the trademark Remember the Titans song “Na Na Hey Hey”
Pads starting to pop
Following the Oklahoma drill, the team broke off into seven-on-seven drills, where hitting was at a premium. Stretching out for a pass, Khalif Herbin found himself on the receiving end of a big blow by defensive back Tavon Young. The first big hit on the practice.
In addition to Young, Harper also found himself on the giving and receiving end of countless big hits as the session continued.
The intensity didn’t stop at the players, as the coaches got their own form of blows into one another as well.
“You offensive guys are communists,” Rhule jokingly exclaimed toward offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield as well as “Temple sucks” at his starting offense in attempt to divert them from the play call.
Gilmore shines in 11-on-11
The Owls closed out practice with a basic game simulation that pitted the first-team offense against the first-team defense and so on.
Junior running back Jamie Gilmore, who is currently competing for playing time against teammates Harper and Zaire Williams, was relieved to seize his reps against the first and second-team defenses.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to show my team what I have and bring something else to the table,” Gilmore said. “[the competition] pushes me because your ultimate goal is to get on the field. Out here I’m just showing what I have so I can get onto the field.”
Gilmore broke off numerous long runs, including three breakaway runs warranting a coach’s whistle to end plays presumed to be a touchdown.
“Jamie Gilmore looked like he a great day, he had a lot of big long runs,” Rhule said. “We had a couple big explosive plays out of Jamie, which is what we need.”
Quarterback P.J. Walker also took notice of Gilmore’s big day.
“Jamie is very explosive, when we get the ball in his hands, it’s looks really fun from his aspect,” Walker said.
Williams losing traction
Despite Gilmore’s success, sophomore running back Zaire Williams, also competing for playing time, continued to struggle to find his place in the crowded backfield.
Williams, who appeared frustrated numerous times during the 11-on-11 session, was the second leading rusher behind Harper last season, but seems to be having trouble taking advantage of the reps he is given.
“[Zaire] just needs to focus a little more,” Walker said. “I think he’s over-thinking things. I think he sees Jamie and Kenny having a good summer and he is trying to match that intensity but he’s not being himself.”
EJ Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ejsmitty17