#4 Oklahoma Football 2019 Preview

Oklahoma Sooners
Overall Rank: #4
#1 Big 12
 Oklahoma Logo
Oklahoma continued its winning formula under head coach Lincoln Riley in year two as they had a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, the top offense in the country, and returned to the college football Playoff. The Sooners have firm control of the Big 12 conference so they will be in the playoff conversation on an annual basis. Now the next step is figuring out how to play just enough defense to win another national championship.
2018 Record: 12-2, 8-1
2018 Bowl: CFP Orange Bowl vs. Alabama (34-45 L)
Coach: Lincoln Riley, (24-4 at Oklahoma, 24-4 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Bedenbaugh, Cale Gundy
Defensive Coordinator: Alex Grinch
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kennedy Brooks, RB, 1,056 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Cedee Lamb, WR, 1,158 yards
Tackles: Kenneth Murray, MLB, 155
Sacks: Ronnie Perkins, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Parnell Motley, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees:  C Creed Humphrey, RB Trey Sermon, TE Grant Calcaterra, DT Neville Gallimore, DE Kenneth Mann, NB Trey Norwood, NB Brendan Radley-Hiles, CB Tre Brown, FS Robert Barnes
Key Losses:  QB Kyler Murray, WR Marquise Brown, OL Cody Ford, OL Bobby Evans, OL Dru Samia, OL Ben Powers, K Austin Seibert, RB Rodney Anderson
Jalen Hurts transferred to Oklahoma from Alabama in the offseason and is next line to try and stretch the Sooners streak of Heisman trophy winners to three in a row. Hurts was very successful in Tuscaloosa as he had a 26-2 record as a starter and his overall skillset fits into the air Raid scheme quite nicely. Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon will be a formidable duo to deal with in 2019 at running back. Brooks rushed for 1,056 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, while Sermon rushed for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018. Cedee Lamb is the top returning wide receiver and should succeed Marquise Brown as the next guy to be first round NFL Draft pick in 2020 as he is an excellent go to receiver. Grant Calcaterra was very effective catching the football at tight end in 2018 as he caught 26 passes for 396 yards and six touchdowns. The offensive line needs to be dealt with since they lost a lot to the NFL and will be looking to defend their title as the best offensive line in college football after winning the Joe Moore Award in 2018 for being the most dominant offensive line.
Alex Grinch takes over as defensive coordinator in 2019 for the Sooners coming over from Ohio State. Grinch has plenty of experience as far as rebuilding a defense as his work at Washington State was quite impressive. Kenneth Murray is the leader at middle linebacker. Murray collected 155 tackles and is a candidate to pick up double-digit tackles in every game. Ronnie Perkins and Neville Gallimore are back along the defensive line and those guys need to find a way to cause more havoc against opposing defensive lines in 2019. The secondary has got to get better as they were 130th in 2018 in passing defense allowing 294.0 yards per game through the air. Parnell Motley and Tre Brown will be the cornerbacks and for those guys it’s about causing more turnovers to give the offense short fields to work with.  
The Bottom Line:
Houston visits Norman on August 31st for the home opener in what should be a high scoring affair between those two teams. Week three will bring on a return trip to UCLA in a rematch of last year’s game in Norman where Oklahoma won 49-21. On October 12th, the Sooners will head to the Cotton Bowl for the annual battle with Texas as those two teams split two matchups in 2018 with Texas winning 48-45 in the regular season and the Sooners beating the Longhorns 39-27 in the Big 12 Championship game. The rest of the schedule is highly favorable so look for Oklahoma to be the frontrunner in the Big 12 conference race. The quest for the national championship will depend upon how well Hurts plays. If he is elite, the Sooners will be in the playoffs. If he is not elite, then it will be a trip to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 247.4 (11th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 322.9 (7, 3)
Total Offense: 570.3 (1, 1)
Scoring Offense: 48.4 (1, 1)
Rushing Defense: 159.8 (59, 6)
Pass Defense: 294.0 (130, 10)
Total Defense: 453.8  (114, 10)
Scoring Defense: 33.3 (101, 10)
Turnover Margin: -0.14 (81, 5)
Sacks: 2.00 (73, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.36 (20, 2)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#26 CeeDee Lamb
#71 Kenneth Murray
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#3 Jadon Haselwood
#14 Spencer Rattler
#16 Theo Wease Jr
#73 Trejan Bridges
#117 Austin Stogner
#133 Woodi Washington
#140 Jeremiah Criddell
#145 Stacey Wilkins
#181 Joseph Wete