The third installment in our â€œKnow Your Opponentâ€ series visits perhaps our greatest foe, the Oklahoma Sooners.Â There is no love loss between both institutions, and the Sooners come off a resounding victory over Texas in the last meeting. That said, there have been some troubles during the off season, so let’s dive right in.
The Sooners are a tradition rich power returning a deep and powerful team with a chip on its shoulder after being beaten by rival Oklahoma State for the Big 12 Championship last year.Â The team will go as its leader, Sr QB Landry Jones does. Jones has a big arm, a lot of confidence, and threw for 4463 yards and 29 TD’s last year, but cost his team at key times with 15 INT’s. On paper, Jones looks like a great QB who just needs to cut down on his interceptions, but in reality Jones faded badly in the last four games of the season, where his team went 2-2, and he threw 1 TD to go with 6 INT’s. In his best game of the year against Kansas State, Jones threw for 505yds, 5 TD’s and 2 INT’s in a 58-17 win.Â For Oklahoma to win the Big 12, the Sooners need more of that QB and less of the one who threw 1 TD after November 5th.Â The Sooners also have Soph QB Blake Bell, their â€œBelldozerâ€, as a hybrid Tim Tebow type running some goal line and short yardage packages.
Oklahoma returns four starters on the offensive line, including Sr’s Tyler Evans and Lane Johnson manning one side of the line.Â The other will be manned by Soph Adam Shead and possibly Soph Daryl Williams.Â Waiting in the wings with a strong shot to take over one tackle spot is 6-9 330lb monster Justin Farniok. Gabe Ikard brings some strong depth and would be a starter at most other schools. Offensive line play is rarely a weakness in Norman, and this unit should be able to handle just about any defensive line it faces.
The Sooners return talented by injured Dominique Whaley at RB, backed by Juniors Roy Finch and Brennan Clay. The runners are all capable ball carriers, but Oklahoma just isnâ€™t the running team it used to be when guys like Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray roamed the land. Whaley ran for just over 600 yards last season, but as a group Oklahoma ran for a shade over 2100 yards. Look for the committee approach to be used again in 2012.Â Keep an eye on Freshman Alex Ross, the nations #7 RB last year, who brings a blend of size (6-1 205lbs) and speed (2011 Oklahoma 200 meter State Champion) that could see him gain a piece of the pie by the end of the year.
No solid word yet on just who OU will settle with at TE, but 6-5 235lbs freshman Taylor McNamara has the inside edge to be a special player at the position.Â McNamara is the kind of player Texas should be getting in Durham Smythe, a guy who comes in big enough to do the job who could morph into a monster given a year in a proper weight program.Â JUCO transfer Brennan Green has been complimented on his hands, but is a better blocker.
The Oklahoma receivers are….to say the least, a â€œcolorfulâ€ group, headlined by Junior WR Kenny Stills, who went viral with a photo of him wearing a lovely evening gown last week.Â The Sooners did have Junior’s Trey Franks and Jaz Reynolds and Soph Kameel Jackson, but they were indefinitely suspended in May for violations of team rules, leaving the group to the cross dressing Stills and a bunch of freshman, the best being Trey Metoyer, a 6-2 198lb freshman, who starred in the spring game and was an early enrollee.Â Past that, there just isnâ€™t much on paper with this group, and the WR3 and WR4 spots will be deep camp battles unless Stoops lets his Juniors come back (which I expect he will).Â By the time Oklahoma and Texas get it on in the Cotton Bowl, Metoyer will probably have taken the WR1 job away from Stills and his assortment of colorful ladies formal wear. Keep an eye on another OU Freshman, WR Durron Neal, a 6-1, 195lb guy with 4.4 speed who was a US Army All American.
The talent and experience at key spots is in place for Oklahoma to mount an formidable attack in 2012, but the development of Metoyer and McNamara will be a big key.
Last year the Sooners ranked 10th in scoring offense at 39.54 points per game, and ranked 5th in total offense at 512.31 yards per game.
On Defense, the Sooners return a deep, experienced group laden with Junior and Senior starters, who somehow didnâ€™t quite live up to the hype youâ€™d expect. The OU defensive line is manned by Seniors Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland, backed by Senior Stacy McGee.Â New starters, but experienced players David King, a Senior, and RJ Washington, a Junior, will man the defensive end spots.Â During spring ball, Freshman Jordan Wade, a 6-4 290lb beast, let the upper classmen know he will play this year.
Oklahoma has historically had a deep group of Linebackers, and this year is no different.Â OU brings back Junior Corey Nelson at the â€œoutsideâ€ spot, and hard hitting New Braunfels, TX native Tom Wort in the middle.Â The hard hitting Wort racked up 71 tackles and 2 INT’s last year, and should be even better this time around. The backups, Senior Jayden Bird, and Sophomore Kellen Jones are guys who could start for half the league. Senior Joseph Ibiloye may have overtaken Nelson for playing time.
The OU Secondary returns 3 starters, Seniors Javon Harris and Demontre Hurst, and Junior Aaron Colvin. Junior Gabe Lynn looks to be the starter entering fall camp at the other CB spot. Colvin led the team in tackles with 84 stops and a half sack.Â Tony Jefferson is the most productive returning player with 74 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4 INT’s, and a forced fumbleÂ playing in various spots as the â€œnicklebackâ€ hybrid position last year.
Special teams is in good hands with returning punter Tress Way and kicker Michael Hunnicutt.
Last year the Sooners ranked 63rd in total defense at 383.17 yards per game and 31st in scoring defense at 22.08 points per game.Â Though talented, the team lost several studs including Frank Alexander, Ronnell Lewis, and Travis Lewis, who did the bulk of the defensive damage.
Overall, the Sooners â€œshouldâ€ be a contender for the National Championship, but time and again Oklahoma fails to rise the occasion, and facing West Virginia on the road will be a tough test.
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