#5 Oklahoma Football 2017 Preview


Oklahoma Sooners


Overall Rank: #5

#1 Big 12

Lincoln Riley takes over as head coach for Oklahoma in 2017 as long time head coach Bob Stoops retired from coaching back on June 7th. Stoops left an unbelievable legacy of consistency as head coach of the Sooners. Thus, Riley will have one heck of a challenge to come close to what Stoops accomplished in his 18 years as head coach. Oklahoma won one national championship, ten Big 12 championships and lost just nine home games in 18 seasons. However, there is an experienced team coming back on both sides of the ball, which should help the Sooners as they defend their Big 12 conference championship.
2016 Record: 11-2, 9-0
2016 Bowl: Sugar Bowl vs. Auburn (W 35-19)
Coach: Lincoln Riley (0-0 at Oklahoma, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Cale Gundy, Bill Bedenbaugh
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Stoops
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Abdul Adams, RB, 283 yards
Passing: Baker Mayfield, QB, 3,965 yards
Receiving: Mark Andrews, TE, 489 yards
Tackles: Emmanuel Beal, ILB, 81
Sacks: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, 9.0
Interceptions: Steven Parker, SS, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Jeffrey Mead, LT Orlando Brown, LG Ben Powers. C Erick Wren, RG Dru Samia, RT Bobby Evans, OLB Caleb Kelly, CB Jordan Thomas, CB Jordan Parker, K/P Austin Seibert
Key Losses:   RB Joe Mixon, RB Samaje Perine, WR Dede Westbrook, LB Jordan Lewis, WR Geno Lewis, DB Ahmad Thomas, DT Jordan Wade, DT Charles Walker
When you have three players account for 2,435 rushing yards and 2,168 receiving yards and see the production graduate, it would be easy for fans to panic a little bit. But the most important components that you need to execute Coach Riley’s offense are back in Baker Mayfield at quarterback and the entire offensive line. Mayfield was brilliant in 2016, throwing for 3,965 yards and 40 touchdowns. Left tackle Orlando Brown leads an offensive line unit that helped Oklahoma finish second in the nation in total yards per game at 554.8 and score 43.9 points per game last season. Abdul Adams should benefit at running back from a veteran offensive line. Adams will need to get around 1,000 yards plus this season. Mark Andrews will give Mayfield a very reliable target at tight end after catching 31 passes for 489 yards and seven touchdowns. Jeffrey Mead and Jeff Badet will need to lead the wide receiver core and make big plays early and often to keep defenses on their toes.
Playing quality defense in the Big 12 conference is always an uphill battle as the offenses are so prolific in part due to the fast paced style of play. With a shift to a four man defensive front this season, it is expected that guys like a D.J. Ward should be able to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks as an edge rusher. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo had an outstanding season in 2016 with nine sacks and will need to produce more of the same level of consistency this season. The secondary should improve in 2017 as just about everyone is back, led by Jordan Thomas and Steven Parker. If Thomas and Parker can have big seasons in regard to creating turnovers it will only enhance Oklahoma’s odds of contending for a College Football Playoff berth. Austin Seibert is a jack of all trades on special teams as he handles both the kicking and punting duties. Seibert made 11 of 16 field goals last season and will need to be a bit more accurate this fall as the Sooners will be in tight spots that will require a key field goal to win a game.
The Bottom Line:
On September 9th, Oklahoma will get another crack at Ohio State, but this time in Columbus, in a revenge game. These two teams met in Norman last September and the Buckeyes trounced the Sooners 45-24. One big key for Oklahoma heading into this year’s battle with Ohio State will be to take care of the football and not allow any defensive touchdowns to break the game open. If the Sooners can keep the game competitive into the second half, then fans will be in for a potential instant classic type of game with these two teams. The annual battle with Texas will be interesting as the Longhorns have a new head coach in Tom Herman, who showed a knack of getting his Houston teams up for big games. A trip to Stillwater to battle a dangerous Oklahoma State team could very well be the first of two matchups in 2017 with the return of the Big 12 championship game. The Cowboys have Heisman Trophy contenders as well at quarterback in Mason Rudolph and at wide receiver in James Washington that will be tough to shut down. This rivalry matchup should be a first team to 45 points wins type of game that goes down to the wire. Overall, there will be some bumpy moments for Coach Riley, but in the end the Sooners should win at least 11 games in 2017.
Projected Bowl: Cotton Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 236.8 (18th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 318.0 (12, 3)
Total Offense: 554.8 (2, 2)
Scoring Offense: 43.9 (3, 1)
Rushing Defense: 162.6 (55, 2)
Pass Defense: 269.4 (111, 8)
Total Defense: 432.0 (82, 5)
Scoring Defense: 28.8 (68, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (67, 4)
Sacks: 1.92 (75, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.62 (36, 1)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#13 Orlando Brown
#80 Jordan Thomas
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#82        Justin Broiles
#85        Cedarian Lamb
#87        Robert Barnes
#89        Addison Gumbs
#115      Levi Draper
#118      Trey Sermon
#131      Chris Robison
#137      Charleston Rambo
#140      Tyrese Robinson
#182      Marquis Hayes
#215      Ryan Jones
#223      Grant Calcaterra
#224      Adrian Ealy
#225      Kennedy Brooks