(July 31)—Jack Del Rio's memorable moment from the infamous "Oklahoma" drill goes back to his freshman year at USC, when he was a hot-shot recruit coach John Robinson decided to test against the Trojans' top offensive lineman and star running back. Roy Foster knocked Del Rio on his back and Marcus Allen left his footprint on Del Rio's chest.
How did Del Rio respond? He got up, dusted himself off and won the next bout.
"I like it. I think there's a time and place for it," Del Rio said of the "Oklahoma," which pits blocker against defender in football's ultimate test of machismo.
"That's what I'm looking for tonight. I want to see the competitive spirit. I want to see the fight," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars will conduct their second "Oklahoma" in as many years when the team puts on full equipment for the first time in this training camp, tonight at 7:15. Del Rio gave jaguars.com a preview of a few "Oklahoma" matchups, and even allowed jaguars.com to contribute to the selection process.
First-round draft pick Marcedes Lewis is expected to open the drill against veteran defensive end Reggie Hayward. It's a classic "Oklahoma" matchup, pitting the highest-drafted offensive lineman against the team's best pass-rushing defensive lineman.
In another clash of interest, center Dennis Norman will take on defensive tackle Anthony Maddox. The "Oklahoma" is a drill especially designed for squat run-stuffers such as Maddox, and Norman is off to a blazing start in his quest to win the starting center job.
Del Rio said offensive lineman Mike Williams requested a matchup against defensive end Marcellus Wiley.
Jaguars.com's featured matchup request will pit left tackle Khalif Barnes against pass-rush specialist Jorge Cordova. Barnes established himself as the team's premier pass-blocker last season. Cordova's first two years with the Jaguars have been compromised by a knee injury. Tonight's action will give Cordova a chance to leap into the spotlight.
"This is definitely it. I just pray to stay healthy. I'm feeling good right now. If my body is right, I'm going to give it all I've got," Cordova said, who sustained a torn ACL in his rookie training camp two years ago. Last year was Cordova's recovery year. Now, he's facing a training camp that will probably determine his future with the Jaguars.
"I definitely got that first step back," Cordova said of his pass-rush. "Every night is a big night because I have to prove myself every night. I have to get better."
The Jaguars drafted Brent Hawkins in the fifth round this year. Hawkins is also a pass-rush specialist and it would seem he and Cordova are competing for that role.
"They give us an equal opportunity to prove ourselves. They have packages just for us; him on one side and me on the other. I feel more competition within myself," Cordova said.
"We're excited about putting the pads on. The one thing you can't determine in (spring drills) is how a guy is going to conduct himself in pads," Del Rio said. "This is a chance for anyone who did any chirping in the offseason to call somebody out. I'm looking for the guys who swell, who play big, who bring it."
What about the guys who shrink?
"We don't collect those guys," Del Rio added.
Meanwhile, the offense "swelled" in its camp-opening performance. Del Rio told reporters following this morning's practice that the offense is off to its best training camp start in four years.
"They're on the ball, blocking the right guys, catching the ball; light years ahead of where we had been," Del Rio said. "I told the team it is my desire to have three phases that function at a high level, not just defense. I thought (Sunday night) was the best practice we've had since I've been here."
This morning, David Garrard and Byron Leftwich each completed touchdown passes in the red-zone drills. Garrard connected with Marcedes Lewis over the middle and Leftwich found Ernest Wilford on an out-route. Wide receivers Matt Jones and Cortez Hankton also excelled this morning, as they have through each of the training camp practices to date.
Tonight's "Oklahoma" will be conducted in an area between the two primary grandstands, and Del Rio said players will be positioned so fans will have an unobstructed view of the action. The drill will take place early in practice and, of course, there is no admission charge.