#14 Oklahoma Football 2013 Preview

Oklahoma Sooners

Overall Rank: #14
#1 Big 12

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Quarterback Landry Jones wrapped up his collegiate career by throwing for 4,267 yards and 30 touchdowns. That was pretty much how it went for the prior three years too. Blake Bell is next in line, but he is nothing like Jones. Bell saw plenty of action last season, rushing for 201 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was used in goal line situations for the most part and the 6-6, 252 pound junior ran right over everybody. However, Bell attempted just 16 passes and only completed nine of them for 107 yards. That is not a big sample size and Bell will do plenty of damage on the ground, but the Sooners need him to be able to throw the ball efficiently.

2012 Record: 10-3, 8-1
2012 Bowl: Cotton Bowl vs. Texas A&M (L 13-41)
Coach: Bob Stoops (149-37 at Oklahoma, 149-37 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Josh Heupel, Jay Norvell
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Stoops

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Damien Williams, RB, 946 yards
Passing: Blake Bell, QB, 107 yards
Receiving: Jalen Saunders, WR, 829 yards
Tackles: Aaron Colvin, CB, 61
Sacks: Chuka Ndulue, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Aaron Colvin, CB, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB Brennan Clay, WR Sterling Shepard, FB Trey Millard, C Gabe Ikard, OL Bronson Irwin, OL Adam Shead, OL Daryl Williams, LB Corey Nelson, LB Frank Shannon, S Gabe Lynn, K Mike Hunnicutt

Key Losses: QB Landry Jones, WR Kenny Stills, WR Justin Brown, OL Lane Johnson, DE David King, DT Casey Walker, DT Jamarkus McFarland, DE R.J. Washington, LB Tom Wort, S Tony Jefferson, S Javon Harris, CB Demontre Hurst, P Tress Way

With the offensive talent around him, Bell should not have to win games on his own. He has two of the best slot receivers in the game in Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard. Saunders caught 62 passes for 829 yards, while Shepard added 621 receiving yards on 45 receptions. On the outside Kenny Stills and Justin Brown need replaced and there are plenty of candidates. Trey Metoyer had a great spring and other youngsters like Durron Neal and Derrick Woods will be in the mix. While the air attack adjusts to life after Jones, the ground game will carry the load. Damien Williams rushed for 946 yards and 11 scores and will again be the workhorse. Brennan Clay is another talented senior who rushed for six scores and 555 yards in limited action. Fullback Trey Millard will get some carries and catches although he is best known as practically being a sixth lineman and paving the way for Williams and Clay. The other five linemen are not bad either. Center Gabe Ikard leads a unit that returns four starters and has the size to create huge holes for all of the rushers. And this group will be drastically improved on the ground after ranking seventh in the Big 12 in rushing offense in 2012.

By the end of the season the OU defense was not living up to their standards. In three of their final four games, the Sooners allowed 41 or more points. The offense scored enough to win two of those contests, but that is not the point. The defense was pretty bad and now there are a ton of holes to fill. The starting front four is gone and junior Chuka Ndulue is the most productive returning player after totaling 5.0 sacks. Junior college transfer Quincy Russell is expected to step into the middle and sophomore Jordan Phillips has a ton of potential, but they have yet to prove anything at this level. Corey Nelson brings experience to the linebacker corps, which now just features two players. Sophomore Frank Shannon will play next to Nelson after a promising freshman campaign. The defensive backs will have to reload around corner Aaron Colvin. Colvin is one of the best cover corners in the country, but it will not do OU too much good if nobody else steps up around him. Senior Gabe Lynn is making the move to free safety and corners Cortez Johnson and Julian Wilson are tough, but they still have a lot to prove.

The Bottom Line:
Two years ago most thought that the Oklahoma defense could not get any worse. It did. Once again saying that the defense just has to get better is the smart move, but the group is inexperienced and Coach Bob Stoops even had to go out and grab some junior college transfers to fill the immediate holes. That is not something the Sooners usually need to do. Although adding some of the best junior college transfers in the country is not a bad thing, but it goes to show how much even a little bit of experience means to this defense. But in the end the Sooners have too much talent not to compete for a Big 12 title. After all, they were 8-1 in conference play last season and that was with their worst defense ever.  

Projected Bowl: Fiesta Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 161.38 (60th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 336.46 (5, 3)
Total Offense: 497.85 (12, 4)
Scoring Offense: 38.15 (15, 5)
Rushing Defense: 192.23 (89, 9)
Pass Defense: 206.08 (29, 2)
Total Defense: 398.31 (64, 4)
Scoring Defense: 25.46 (50, 4)
Turnover Margin: -0.31 (80, 9)
Sacks: 1.85 (70, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.15 (17, 3)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#28 Aaron Colvin
#100 Damien Williams

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#34 Keith Ford
#74 Cody Thomas
#127 Hatari Byrd
#142 Stanvon Taylor
#189 Matt Dimon
#206 D.J. Ward
#230 Kerrick Huggins


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