Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:08 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Oklahoma.
Spring Practice Starts: Monday, March 5
Spring Game: Saturday, April 14
Returning Starters: Eight offense, seven defense, both specialists
Three Things To Watch For:
1. Utilizing the Belldozer. One of the best things Oklahoma fans heard over the winter was that Landry Jones would be returning for another season. Still, we know what Oklahoma is going to get from Jones in 2012. What we can't be sure of is the role Blake Bell is going to play. In Oklahoma's final 6 games Bell rushed for 13 touchdowns and was seemingly unstoppable in short-yardage situations. You have to think that the Sooners are going to create more packages for Bell to utilize his abilities. Much like Florida did with Tim Tebow when Chris Leak was still around in 2006 and that worked out well for the Gators.
2. A shift in the defense. Mike Stoops is in as defensive coordinator and Brent Venables has left for Clemson. Here's what I feel confident in saying about the Oklahoma defense this season: with Stoops around, a talented secondary that was already one of the best in the Big 12 is going to get even better. The question is how Venables' absence will affect the linebackers and defensive line, with linebackers in particular being a Venables specialty. Spring practices will give us all our first clue as to how things will shake out.
3. Can a running back emerge? Dominique Whaley was a pleasant surprise for the Sooners in 2011, leading the team in rushing with 627 yards even though his year ended early thanks to a broken ankle. Because of that ankle, Whaley won't be participating in spring practice. Which means there are plenty of reps to go around for guys like Roy Finch, Brennan Clay, and incoming freshman Alex Ross. It would be a bonus for the Sooners if one of these backs steps up and shows they're capable of taking on a big role in the offense should Whaley have trouble coming back from injury.
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Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 12:36 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Oklahoma's depth at running back took a hit earlier this week when it was announced that Brandon Williams was transferring from Oklahoma to join Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. The five-star running back came to Norman with a considerable amount of hype, but he only carried the ball 46 times in 2011.
Shortly after the news became public, rumors started swirling around the Oklahoma program that Williams wouldn't be the only running back leaving. Word was that Brennan Clay would be following Williams out the door. Which is all news to Clay, as he told The Oklahoman that he hasn't even contemplated leaving Oklahoma, let alone is he about to go through with it.
“I have no idea where that came from,” Clay told the paper. “They make that up every year. I remember I came in as a freshman and they said I was transferring. That's not true at all.”
“People always have something to say. They want to put you down or speculate. It is what it is. It's not true. I'm not worried about it.”
Which is good news for Oklahoma, as losing a player with the potential of Brandon Williams is bad enough. With the assurance that Clay is staying, that means the Sooners will get their three leading rushers back next season in Clay, Dominique Whaley and Roy Finch.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:26 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: Baylor will have to win this game the same way it does in every game it emerges victorious: by outscoring Oklahoma. This is a team that's ranked 108th in the country in scoring defense, after all, allowing 36 points per game. The good news for Baylor is that it has an offense more than capable of putting up points in a hurry. Of course, taking care of the ball while it has it would help a lot too. In the blowout loss to Oklahoma State the Bears turned the ball over 5 times, and last week against Kansas the Bears turned it over 4 times, forcing Robert Griffin to lead a 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter. The best way to limit turnovers will be to protect Griffin from an Oklahoma defensive line that can get to the quarterback, as it's second in the Big 12 with 34 sacks this season. If Griffin gets time, he can pick apart any secondary.
OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: It can overcome the injuries on offense. Normally I'd put Oklahoma's offense on par with Baylor's, but is that still the case now that the Sooners have lost Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles in the last two weeks? We can't know for sure because we haven't seen it play without those two yet. Which means that Landry Jones will have to adjust to life without his favorite target and security blanket. Remember, Landry Jones has never played a game as a Sooner in which he didn't have Broyles around to throw to. In the backfield, Roy Finch and Brennan Clay will have to step up to fill in for Whaley and give the Sooners balance on offense. On defense, the Oklahoma defense needs to pressure Griffin and understand that it's likely going to give up points. It just needs to make a few stops each half too. Something it has proven more than capable of doing all season.
X-FACTOR: Jaz Reynolds. Landry Jones is going to miss having Ryan Broyles around, and is going to need one of his receivers to step up and make some big plays. That player should be Jaz Reynolds, who has stepped up in a big way in Oklahoma's last three games. In that span Reynolds has caught 4 touchdowns, though he only has 215 yards. Against this Baylor secondary, with Jones forced to look his way more often, he could approach that yardage total in just one game.
Posted on: October 29, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 4:46 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Oklahoma is currently in a close game with Kansas State, but it's already suffered one big loss this afternoon. Running back Dominique Whaley, the Sooners leading rusher, suffered a broken ankle in the first quarter and the early report is that he'll miss the rest of the season.
Whaley had rushed for 627 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season coming into Saturday's game. Roy Finch, Brennan Clay and perhaps freshman Brandon Williams will have to pick up the slack for the Sooners offense.
Posted on: March 22, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:25 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Oklahoma , who started spring practice on Monday .
Spring Practice Question: Will Oklahoma replace DeMarco Murray with a committee of backs, or will one man emerge with the job?
There are going to be a lot of expectations on the Oklahoma Sooners heading into 2011. Though we're a long time away from the first preseason polls of the year, and we all know that preseason polls are utterly useless, a lot of folks seem to think that Oklahoma will begin the season as the top-ranked team in the country. Which makes sense.
The Sooners are coming off another Big 12 title and a win in the Fiesta Bowl, and they're also getting back two of the best offensive players in the country in quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles.
A nice duo for new co-offensive coordinators Josh Huepel and Jay Norvell to have at their disposal as the replace Kevin Wilson, who took the head coaching job at Indiana. What won't be so easy for them to do is find a replacement for running back DeMarco Murray.
In his four years with the Sooners, Murray produced 5,256 yards and 63 touchdowns rushing and receiving. That's not the kind of production you can just replace. So who will be the man to pick up where Murray left off?
Well, odds are that it won't be just one back doing so, but rather a committee. Roy Finch did a nice job backing Murray up in 2010 as a freshman, but also had to miss the Fiesta Bowl with a stress fracture. Considering he's only 5'8 and 180 pounds, durability has to be a concern for Finch. Odds are that he won't be able to carry the load by himself, which will open the door for one of Oklahoma's other backs.
Going in to camp Brennan Clay is listed at number one on the running back depth chart, but he only carried the ball 36 times for 127 yards as a freshman. There's also Jermie Calhoun, Jonathan Miller and Iowa transfer Brandon Wegher who could take some carries this season.
Williams, a 6'1 188-pound running back out of Royal High School in Brookshire, Texas, may have been the crown jewel of Oklahoma's 2011 recruiting class. He'll also get a chance to win the starting job this spring, which is why he enrolled early.
During his junior and senior seasons at Royal, Williams rushed for 4,253 yards and 47 touchdowns. He also caught 47 passes for 656 yards and 6 more touchdowns. That's some DeMarco Murray-like production right there.
Of course, there's a difference between the Big 12 and high school football, even in the state of Texas, so whether or not Williams is able to handle the job at Oklahoma remains to be seen. Especially when you consider that it's national title or bust in Norman.
Whether or not he'll be able to handle it we'll begin to learn this spring. So while there are plenty of things to keep an eye on with the Sooners this spring, I have a feeling that most eyes will be on Williams.