Bob Stoops sounds as confident as ever, pointing out the overflow of returning talent on this, his ninth, Oklahoma squad. The Sooners return 16 starters who took the field for their Big 12 title game win over Nebraska. Indeed, the Sooners are built to win. And win big. And win now. Except at quarterback. Thank you, Rhett Bomar.
This time, there’s no veteran to ride to the rescue, as Paul Thompson did when Bomar was dismissed from the team last August for violating NCAA rules. The Sooners must count on a kid. Or maybe even a former junior college transfer recruited solely to be Bomar’s backup.
And still, Stoops is counting on the same factor — surrounding talent — that aided Thompson and kept pressure off the quarterback spot and on enemy defenses.
“That will be the case even more so,” Stoops says. “We’ll be much more experienced — line, backs, tight ends, receivers — around that position. No matter who it will be, there’s enough pieces that our future will be OK.”
Oklahoma carries few question marks into the 2007 season. Yet one question — who’s capable at quarterback? — looms large.
The Sooners return nine offensive starters who took the field for their Big 12 title game win over Nebraska. Among them: four across the offensive line, every receiver and running back Allen Patrick, who subbed so superbly when Adrian Peterson was missing with a broken collarbone.
With even more talent on defense, the Sooners are built to win big and win now. Except at quarterback. Still recovering from the scandal that led to the dismissal of Bomar over NCAA violations, OU enters preseason with a three-man competition. None of the candidates — junior Joey Halzle, redshirt freshman Sam Bradford or true freshman Keith Nichol — made a convincing case to be the starter in the spring.
So all the surrounding talent is needed, allowing whoever emerges at quarterback to be asked simply not to lose games, rather than to win them. The quarterback should find comfort in a dominant offensive line and game-changing playmakers at every skill position.
Patrick proved himself with four 100-yard games while Peterson was on the shelf, yet may have to share the spotlight with elusive redshirt freshman DeMarco Murray, who was the star of the spring.
Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly is among the Big 12’s best. And sophomore tight end Jermaine Gresham can stretch the field in what could turn out to be a breakout season.
Oklahoma’s defense is built from back to front, with the secondary the strength of a unit that returns seven starters.
Cornerbacks Reggie Smith and Marcus Walker and free safety Nic Harris are All-Big 12 types. Each is strong in coverage, and Harris is versatile in blitzes and as a run stopper. Smith warrants a spot on All-America watch lists, moving from strong safety to corner, where he can showcase his playmaking skills.
The Sooners exited spring unsettled at linebacker, mostly due to a knee injury to Ryan Reynolds, who underwent surgery. As the projected leader of the unit, Reynolds’ swift and strong return could be critical. Even with a healthy Reynolds, the Sooners need touted junior college transfer Mike Reed to advance his transition from freelancer to middle man in a structured defense.
The team is stacked at tackle, with youngsters DeMarcus Granger and Gerald McCoy upgrading a rotation that already includes starters Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman. But replacements are needed at defensive end, where the top three pass rushers from ’06 moved on. Alonzo Dotson and John Williams, both seniors with inconsistent careers, are capable, yet must finally produce.
Garrett Hartley was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award after hitting 19-of-20 field goal attempts a year ago. The Sooners have two quality punters in Michael Cohen and Mike Knall. OU employs them both, with Knall excelling on pooch punts.
The Sooners must be considered a contender for another conference crown and a BCS bowl. Still, much of Oklahoma’s 2007 success will hinge on finding a quarterback capable of making the transition from unknown to unquestioned leader. An early season home date with Miami will be a test for the young quarterback of choice. Otherwise, outside the annual clash with Texas in the Red River Shootout, the schedule is favorable.
obviously this jackass didn't consult with SVTVenom before making his analysis.