#4 Oklahoma Football 2012 Preview

Oklahoma Sooners
Overall Rank: #4
Big 12 Conference Rank: #1
Oklahoma Logo
The Oklahoma Sooners received one first place vote in the season’s first AP poll. Never mind that it is ludicrous for someone to feel the Sooners are better than USC or either of the SEC powers. The fact that Oklahoma is up there yet again, receiving a first place vote yet again, after a somewhat disappointing 2011 season, tells us all we need to know. The Sooners never go away. People believe in Oklahoma year after year. They are one of only a few universities capable of having such high expectations every single season. Texas has dropped a bit. USC went away for a few years. Notre Dame has been gone longer than that. Even the SEC schools seem to rotate who is going to be good. But that one constant seems to be Oklahoma under Bob Stoops. Rarely does someone believe they are the legitimate best team; hardly ever does someone believe they aren’t in the discussion.
2011 Record: (10-3, 6-3)
2011 Bowl: Insight Bowl vs. Iowa (W 31-14)
Coach: Bob Stoops (139-34 at Oklahoma, 139-34 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Stoops
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dominique Whaley, RB, 627 yards
Passing: Landry Jones, QB, 4463 yards
Receiving: Kenny Stills, WR, 849 yards
Tackles: Aaron Colvin, DB, 84
Sacks: Corey Nelson, LB, 5.5
Interceptions: Tony Jefferson, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: QB Blake Bell, RB Roy Finch, WR Jaz Reynolds, OL Gabe Ikard, OL Tyler Evans, K Michael Hunnicutt, LB Tom Wort, DB Demontre Hurst, DL Casey Walker, DL Jamarkus McFarland
Key Losses: WR Ryan Broyles, OL Donald Stephenson, DL Frank Alexander, DL Ronnell Lewis, LB Travis Lewis, DB Jamell Fleming,
As with many of their Big 12 brethren, the strength of Oklahoma resides on the offensive side, particularly through the air. Quarterback Landry Jones is one of the best passers in the nation. He returns for his final season, hoping to take yet another step forward in what has been an impressive career. Although historic Sooner Ryan Broyles is gone, Jones is still left with wide receiver Kenny Stills, one of the best deep threats in the country. His big play ability helped to overcome the Broyles injury last season. With two good runners returning in the backfield, Oklahoma should stay right in line with their offensive production from a season ago which saw them finish in the top 10 in the nation in passing offense, scoring offense and total offense. Aiding the scoring is veteran kicker Michael Hunnicutt. A reliable kicker’s affect on a team’s confidence cannot be overstated.
The Sooners, a year ago, were the epitome of the Big 12. They threw the ball all over the field, scoring in bunches, but allowed huge chunks of points in their losses. In the school’s three defeats, they gave up 41, 45 and 44 points respectively. To make matters worse, the defense has lost a number of key contributors. Frank Alexander and Ronnell and Travis Lewis, three key cogs to the front seven, are all in the NFL now. A defense that struggled to stop high powered offenses or force turnovers a year ago will now need to rely on inexperienced players to fill the voids. Their strengths, sacking the quarterback and tackling runners in the backfield, may also take a step back because of the departures.
The Bottom Line:
Although Oklahoma lost a number of key players on defense, they have talented players ready to take their place. Also, the offense should be epic with some of the best skill position players in the conference. Winning a conference title can never be a given but Oklahoma has made it almost seem that way in recent years. After a misstep last season, look for OU to be back atop the Big 12.
Projected Bowl: Fiesta Bowl
2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 162.92 (50th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 349.38 (5, 3)
Total Offense: 512.31 (5, 3)
Scoring Offense: 39.54 (10, 3)
Rushing Defense: 134.69 (43, 5)
Pass Defense: 241.46 (79, 4)
Total Defense: 376.15 (55, 2)
Scoring Defense: 22.08 (31, 1)
Turnover Margin: -0.15 (74, 7)
Sacks: 3.08 (8, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 0.85 (7, 2)
Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings
#15 Landry Jones
#34 Tony Jefferson
#43 Tom Wort
#88 Kenny Stills
Madness 2012 Recruit Rankings
#73 Alex Ross
#74 Durron Neal
#96 Sterling Shepard
#183 John Michael McGee
#185 Taylor McNamara
#207 Ty Darlington
#220 Trevor Knight
#229 Derrick Woods
#251 Eric Striker