If you’re headed to Oklahoma’s spring game this weekend looking to catch a healthy glimpse of two of OU’s top offensive playmakers, prepare yourself for disappointment.
Head coach Bob Stoops has informed those covering the team that both running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Sterling Shepard will be used sparingly in this Saturday’s spring game. Perine, in particular, doesn’t sound like he’ll be on the receiving end of very many reps.
“I’ll be honest, I’m not real keen on seeing Samaje run a whole bunch,” Stoops was quoted as saying by The Oklahoman.
The reason for Stoops’ reticence to put Perine in harm’s way during what amounts to a meaningless scrimmage is obvious. As a true freshman last season, Perine led the Big 12 in rushing with 1,713 yards. 427 of those yards came in a Nov. 22 win over Kansas, breaking the FBS single-game record that had been set the previous week. He’s considered one of the top backs in the country irrespective of class, and will enter the 2015 season as one of a handful of Heisman contenders.
Given the stance on Perine and other circumstances, OU’s spring game backfield could be a rather lonely place. David Smith decided to transfer out of the Sooner football program last month, while Keith Ford is indefinitely suspended and won’t play. Additionally, Joe Mixon is suspended from the game — he’s been permitted to practice with the team — as the fallout from an arrest last year for punching a female in the face that netted him a season-long suspension continues.
Shepard, meanwhile, missed three full games last November with a groin injury, then played sparingly in the season finale against Oklahoma State as he was held without a reception for the first time since November of 2013.Despite that, Shepard still led the Sooners in receptions (51), receiving yards (970) and receiving touchdowns (five).