Practice report: Quick start could be key

Oklahoma understands it can completely change the way the game is played if it gets an early lead against Kansas State. The Wildcats want to run the ball and keep the Sooners offense off the field while scoring points of their own.

“We have to jump on them quick,” receiver Trey Metoyer said. “They’re a fundamental, sound football team. They keep the ball and like to run and pound it, run the clock off. Every chance we get, we got to make plays.”

If OU gets a double-digit lead, it could force the Wildcats to throw the ball more than they’d like to with quarterback Collin Klein.

“It’s something we all know we have to do,” guard Adam Shead said. “Especially against a team like Kansas State, they’re physical and athletic. We’ll have to play from beginning to end.”

While Klein has improved his passing skills, running with the football is his forte. KSU is able the run the ball and use ball control as a second defense, it could help their chances of ending Bob Stoops’ undefeated home streak against ranked teams.

• The last time Oklahoma played Kansas State, wide receiver Jaz Reynolds was the player of the game. In OU’s 58-17 rout of the Wildcats, Reynolds hauled in two acrobatic touchdown grabs. Due to an offseason suspension that figures to last into October, Reynolds will not be a participant Saturday.

“Obviously he wants to be out there and he remembers last year,” said his position coach, Jay Norvell. “He sits in on those film rooms and watches the game from last year and it’s hard on him. He really wishes he would have an opportunity to play. I think that will help when he gets back out there -- he’ll be that much more hungry to do the right things and to play well. He’s doing the things he’s supposed to do and I think that’s a credit to him. But there’s no question he would like to be out there.”

With the emergence of Metoyer and Justin Brown to go along with Kenny Stills, the Sooners have a solidified receiving corps. So when Reynolds does return, could he still help the Sooners?

“I would like to think so,” Norvell said. “He’s a very talented player. He’s played in a lot of football games, and that kind of experience is something we can always use.

“But there’s no question when you’re playing with a rhythm of guys, and guys are playing well, it’ll be tough to get everyone on the field. But at the same time he’s somebody that can help and you don’t know what can happen in the next 4-5 games with injuries and that type of thing. You hope everyone stays healthy, but that’s not always the case.”

Reynolds has been working on the scout-team offense along with Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders. Together, the two had 17 touchdown receptions last season.

“Jaz has been focused, he’s on scout team, he’s been working, he’s helping our defense every game,” Norvell said. “We got some good wide receivers there on scout team with a lot of game experience. That’s only going to make us better.”

• Norvell is happy with the overall depth of the Sooners receiving corps. Brown has been a terrific influence and Stills is practicing hard and has shown maturity. And backups Durron Neal and Sterling Shepard, both true freshmen, were praised for their effort when they got the chance to play against Florida A&M.

“We have about seven guys who can play for us that we feel good about,” Norvell said. “It’s a good group, great attitude.”

But it’s been another true freshman who has really been impressing during practices, despite being in line for a redshirt season this fall.

Derrick Woods has come on, he was our scout team player of the week,” Norvell said. “He’s got a great attitude, he’s one of those kids that comes out every game and it’s like a game to him. Those guys can’t help but get better.”

There’s been a thought that Woods would end up on defense but the freshman has been working at receiver and making great progress. If he can develop during the season, he could join Saunders and Courtney Gardner, as quality additions to the receiving corps in 2013.