2010 Record: (12-2, 6-2 in Big 12)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops (129-31 at OU, 78-18 in Big 12)
Last Bowl Game: 2010/2011 Fiesta Bowl (beat UConn 48-20)
Final 2010/2011 AP Ranking: #6
Final 2010/2011 CFBZ Ranking: #7
9/3: Tulsa (2009 result: won 45-0)
9/17: at Florida State (2010 result: won 47-17)
9/24: Missouri (2010 result: lost 36-27)
10/1: Ball State
10/8: at Texas (2010 result: won 28-20)
10/15: at Kansas (2009 result: won 35-13)
10/22: Texas Tech (2009 result: won 45-7)
10/29: at Kansas State (2009 result: won 42-30)
11/5: Texas A&M (2010 result: lost 33-19)
11/19: at Baylor (2009 result: won 53-24)
11/26: Iowa State (2009 result: won 52-0)
12/3: at Oklahoma State (2010 result: won 47-41)
Early Game Previews:
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 37.2 ppg (1st in Big 12, 14th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 138.71 yds/game (10th in Big 12, 82nd in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 343.4 yds/game (2nd in Big 12, 3rd in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 482.1 yds/game (2nd in Big 12, 10th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 21.8 ppg (3rd in Big 12, 33rd in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 148.93 yds/game (5th in Big 12, 57th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 212.9 yds/game (4th in Big 12, 50th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 361.9 yds/game (4th in Big 12, 53rd in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +1.00 per game (1st in Big 12, 7th in Nation)
Penalties: 42.3 yds/game (1st in Big 12, 24th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Landry Jones, Jr (405 of 617 for 4718 yds, 38 TD, 12 INT)
Rushing: RB Roy Finch (85 for 398 yds, 4.6 ypc, 2 TD)
Receiving: WR Ryan Broyles, Sr (131 rec for 1622 yds, 14 TD)
Tackles: LB Travis Lewis, Sr (109)*
Sacks: DE Frank Alexander, Sr (7.5)
Interceptions: CB Jamell Fleming, Sr (5)
*will miss significant time with a broken bone in foot
Athlon: BCS Championship (vs Alabama)
The Oklahoma Sooners have been dubbed as one of the early favorites to take home the Crystal Trophy this year. When you look around the field at an OU practice it's not hard to see why. They return a QB in Landry Jones that threw for the second most yards and TDs of anybody in the FBS last year. They also return WR Ryan Broyles as he passed up a chance to be a sure first round pick in the NFL to come back to college. Broyles led the FBS last year in receptions with 131. The Sooners also return depth at the OL, despite the loss of Jarvis Jones this spring, as they have four returning starters. The Sooners also have a lot of talent, although unproven, at the RB position. I think it's safe to say that OU will be a force to be reckoned with on the offensive side of the football.
Defense is where there will be question-marks and we also have to mention the untimely death of Austin Box. That tragedy will have the Sooners playing with heavy hearts this year. If you look at the stats at the top of our preview, they don't look like the stats of a team that you would think would be in the hunt for the National Championship. In terms of the Nation, they were a middle of the pack defense statistically speaking in most categories except points allowed. One thing Oklahoma has to improve on is giving up the big play. When you look at their red zone numbers they didn't allow a lot of trips to the red zone last year. But that might be because they actually allowed 18 TDs from non red zone plays (as compared to 17 TDs inside the red zone). They play in the Big 12, so big plays will be given up but that is definitely something they need to improve this year. In 2009, they gave up 22 TDs with 18 of those coming from inside the red zone so their 2010 performance was a dramatic drop from the year before.
Oklahoma finishes second in our pre-season poll and out of our three voters they did receive one first place vote and one second place vote. They have a tough but manageable schedule. The biggest out of conference tilt as at Florida State on Sept 17th. The biggest conference game could just be there third game of the season against Missouri as the Tigers will be hungry and the Sooners defense may still be getting it's feet under them. This is the Big 12 so there are a few easy ones (Kansas comes to mind) but for the most part the Sooners have to stay on there toes because if they don't show up each week they could be sent home with a loss. This OU team can hang with anybody on offense but it will be the defense that will have to step up for them to win a National Championship. To get a local perspective on the Sooners we sought out Alan Kenney from the great Oklahoma blog and podcast Blatant Homerism. He also writers for the new Bloguin upstart site Crystal Ball Run, so make sure you check them out as well.
Oklahoma looks stacked on offense with guys like Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills and Trey Franks returning. The biggest question mark on offense look like RB with the departure of 1,200 yard rusher (along with 71 receptions) DeMarco Murray. Who are the candidates to replace him and who do you think ends up being the feature back this year?
I wish I could make this easy and just give you one name, but I just don't think that is going to be the case. Even when Adrian Peterson was in the backfield, OU has preferred a rotation of runners. Murray saw the lion's share of work last season, but that was almost by necessity. Roy Finch, Brennan Clay, Jonathan Miller and Jermie Calhoun all were slowed by injuries at some point in the year, and Mossis Madu had a few "ball security" issues that limited his action. Supposedly, Clay is having a really strong fall camp - with closed practices, no one has seen enough to know. I expect to see him as the first-string back when the next depth chart is released. All signs are that Finch has recovered nicely from ankle surgery and is working at both slot receiver and running back. The real wildcard is five-star freshman Brandon Williams. He was on campus in the spring and is squarely in the mix this season. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets more touches than any other back in the second half of the year.
What do you see as the biggest weakness on the Sooners team?
Oklahoma is relying on its defensive line to step up in a big way this year, particularly the tackles. The front four was generally serviceable last season, but the group had its struggles when it came to stopping the run - opponents averaged nearly 5 yards per attempt on first down against OU in 2010. The biggest thing going for the d-line this year is experience and depth. Last season, injuries took a big toll in the middle, forcing some younger guys into playing more snaps than they probably should have. Losing Jeremy Beal at defensive end hurts, but it's one position where the Sooners have stocked up a fair amount of talent. If Ronnell Lewis is a no-go, that will hurt. Bottom line: If the DL isn't better as a group than last year, I just don't see this team winning a national championship.
Who are some under-the-radar guys to keep an eye on for this Oklahoma team?
Hmmm, it seems like OU tends to get a lot of hype, so it's hard to pick out names people don't really know. Here are a couple:
-You won't find a better fullback anywhere in the country than Trey Millard.
-Lane Johnson is a juco quarterback who has converted to offensive tackle - you don't see that often. He's challenging for a starting spot and will definitely see some time in the OL rotation.
-No one expected much out of Aaron Colvin as a true freshman last year, but he was great when pressed into action at corner and nickelback. He has been made into a full-time safety and is drawing rave reviews from the coaching staff.
Who are the three players on Oklahoma's schedule that you are least looking forward to playing?
-Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State: A stud pass rusher is one of football's great equalizers, and Jenkins is one of the two or three best in the country.
-Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: Another terror on the edge. Jeffcoat is a maniac on the field, and I mean that in the best possible sense.
-James Franklin, QB, Missouri: Franklin may be a first-year starter for Mizzou, but he's a nice dual-threat option behind center. Historically, QBs who can run give the Sooner D trouble.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
The first one has to be Florida State. The Seminoles are the most talented squad in the country not to have Alabama on the front of their unis. A night game on the road? OU hasn't fared so well in those spots lately, and I expect Tallahassee will be buzzing. The second one this year: Oklahoma State. A scheduling quirk has this game being played in Stillwater for a second consecutive year. Yes, the Sooners have owned this series in the last decade, but if OU is in position to get to the national championship game with a win here, I expect you'll see the best effort from the Cowboys that we've seen in a while. And, of course, you can't forget Texas. There's a lot of transition going on there, but it's not like that roster is full of chumps. On top of that, with Bryan Harsin running that offense now, there will be plenty of new schemes for opponents to bone up on in preparation.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
I think 11-2 with a Big 12 title would be a "successful" year. Plenty of OU fans would consider anything less than a national championship a disappointment. That is foolish. History has shown that plenty of great teams don't win the title, let alone get a chance to even play for it. Combine a trip to Florida State with a strong Big 12 this year, and making it through the season unscathed will be tough. My gut feeling is this team ends up 12-1. Pick one from Florida State, Texas, Oklahoma State or, potentially, the national championship.
CFBZ Top 25
#2 Oklahoma Sooners
2011 Team Previews