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March 23, 2007

Spring Practice Notepad

Adding to our spring practice articles, columns and photo features, the ITS Spring Practice Notepad offers an inside look at practice with comments on depth chart battles, position changes, individual player and position performances, additional quotes from coaches and players, as well as other noteworthy observations from the practice field.

• WHO WILL STEP UP AT WR? The Tulsa offense has two key question marks on offense - offensive line and wide receiver. Finding playmakers at wideout will be a huge key in being successful with Co-Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn's no-huddle spread offense.

"At the receiver position, we've got to have some guys make plays," Malzahn said. "That is a real competitive position right now, and we feel like we'll have some guys step up."

Those making a good impression thus far include Corey Kizer, Nick Henderson, Dion Toliver, Jesse Meyer and Kyle Grooms.


• KYLE YOUNG: 6-foot-6 basketball walk-on Kyle Young has looked solid in his first two days of spring drills working with the tight ends and wide receivers. Young was the starting quarterback on his high school team in Turpin, Oklahoma. He has shown good footwork and athleticism, which has the coaches excited at this point.

"We were very impressed with the first day from him," said Graham. "We're excited to see what he can do."


• POSITION CHANGES: It has been noted that Walter Boyd switched from defensive line to offensive line, but we have spotted a few other changes. As far as Boyd's move to offensive line is concerned, Malzahn sees it as a big positive.

"We are tickled to death to have him," said Malzahn. "He's a big athletic guy that is very smart. He'll give us a lot of flexibility to do some things possibly in the screen game or misdirection game."

Jamad Williams has moved from defensive back to tailback, wearing the blue No. 27 practice jersey.

"We're glad to have him on offense too," Malzahn explained. "He played tailback in high school and did a fine job. We feel like he'll give us some quality depth, and we may put three backs on the field at the same time."

Jeph McAlester has moved from linebacker to defensive end, and safety Ty Page worked out at wide receiver yesterday. Page had been running with the second team defense.


• LINEBACKER BATTLE: Currently, the first-team linebackers are Chris Chamberlain, Nelson Coleman and Alain Karatepeyan. The second unit has been made up of Tanner Antle, Mike Bryan and George Clinkscale. Jon Piorkowski is returning from injury and will likely battle Antle.


• SAFETY BATTLE: At this point, Randy Duncan has looked good as the first-team free safety, joining Anthony Germany at spur and Steve Craver at bandit. Making up the second group is currently Josh Burris at free safety, Ty Page at spur and Kenny Sims at bandit.

However, if Page makes the move to wide receiver, expect James Lockett to step up in the spur position.


• DIFFERENT ATMOSPHERE: The atmosphere of practice is completely different than those held by Tulsa's previous staff. Steve Kragthorpe usually closed practices to the public, and media was only allowed to take pictures and video during the first 30 minutes.

Coach Graham has much more of an "open door" policy, encouraging fans to come out to practice, and media is given more access. All of this helps in marketing the program.


• HIGH SCHOOL CONNECTIONS: High school coaches have been prevalent on the sidelines. Coaches from Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma are making the drive to check out what's happening at Skelly Stadium. TU Head Coach Todd Graham said it was great to see and attributed the attention to his staff's many contacts in the high school ranks.


• COLOR SWAP: For the last four years on the Tulsa practice field, defensive players have worn blue jerseys, while the offense donned white. That has flip-flopped, which confused many onlookers on Tuesday.


• BEST QUOTE THUS FAR: "Create turnovers on defense, take care of the ball on offense, and play like your hair's on fire." - TU Head Coach Todd Graham


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