#25 Oklahoma Football 2015 Preview

Oklahoma Sooners

Overall Rank: #25
#3 Big 12

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Oklahoma was supposed to compete for a Big 12 title in 2014, but instead ended up 5-4 in conference play. Most of those conference losses were close, with the exception of a 48-14 beating at the hands of Baylor, but that is of little comfort to Oklahoma or Coach Bob Stoops. As a result, Coach Stoops made some changes to his coaching staff. The offensive coordinator spot was handed over to Lincoln Riley, who previously used his Air Raid offense at East Carolina.

2014 Record: 8-5, 5-4
2014 Bowl: Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Clemson (L 6-40)
Coach: Bob Stoops (168-44 at Oklahoma, 168-44 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Lincoln Riley
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Stoops

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Samaje Perine, RB, 1,713 yards
Passing: Trevor Knight, QB, 2,300 yards
Receiving: Sterling Shepard, WR, 970 yards
Tackles: Dominique Alexander, LB, 107
Sacks: Eric Striker, LB, 9.0
Interceptions: Zack Sanchez, CB, 6

Other Key Returnees: RB Alex Ross, WR Durron Neal, WR Michiah Quick, LB Jordan Evans, S Ahmad Thomas, DL Charles Tapper

Key Losses: RB Keith Ford, OL Daryl Williams, OL Tyrus Thompson, OL Adam Shead, K Michael Hunnicutt

When the ball is on the ground, Oklahoma is a good team. Running back Samaje Perine had an amazing freshman campaign, rushing for 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns. Of course his most memorable game was against Kansas when he rushed for 427 yards and five touchdowns. He eclipsed the 200-yard mark against West Virginia and Texas Tech as well. On the other side of the ball, Texas allowed a mere 106.4 yards per game on the ground. The front seven will be built around linebacker Eric Striker, who totaled 17.0 tackles-for-loss and 9.0 sacks. Jordan Evans and Dominique Alexander will man the middle linebacker spots. Those two combined for 200 tackles. The line does  need to replace tackle Jordan Phillips, who left early for the NFL, but Matthew Romar, Jordan Wade and Charles Walker will form a nice rotation at tackle.

Oklahoma wants to throw more under the new offensive scheme, but it remains to be seen if that is really possible. Trevor Knight is back after throwing for 2,300 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore, but his interceptions and accuracy were a problem. Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield was not much more efficient with the Red Raiders two years ago and expecting either of those quarterbacks to be able to lead an air raid attack is asking a bit much. Receivers Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal and Michiah Quick are back to help with the passing game. Sterling Shepard caught 51 passes for 970 yards despite missing much of the season with an injury. The Sooners pass defense ranked ninth in the conference and 117th in the nation. Junior cornerback Zack Sanchez is one of the best in the conference, but he needs help at the other corner spot.

The Bottom Line:
Oklahoma has a long way to go to get back to where they want to be. But the pieces are starting to come into place. Perine is, of course, a great running back who can carry the offense. The plan to not force him to carry the offense could go either way, but at least there is something to fall back on. If the pass defense can improve and turnovers become an asset instead of a problem, Oklahoma can get back where they belong atop the Big 12 standings.

Projected Bowl: Alamo Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 261.2 (10th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 203.5 (83, 8)
Total Offense: 464.7 (23, 5)
Scoring Offense: 36.4 (20, 3)
Rushing Defense: 106.4 (8, 1)
Pass Defense: 276.2 (117, 9)
Total Defense: 382.6 (51, 5)
Scoring Defense: 25.9 (55, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.38 (95, 7)
Sacks: 2.46 (39, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 0.69 (1, 1)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#30 Zack Sanchez
#55 Dominique Alexander
#60 Eric Striker
#67 Charles Tapper

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#85 Ricky DeBerry
#93 Neville Gallimore
#118 P.J. Mbanasor
#133 Will Sunderland
#172 Bobby Evans
#191 Rodney Anderson


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