Preview: Oklahoma

Coming off a 79-10 thrashing of North Texas, the Sooners prepare to host the Hurricanes of Miami.

After entering the 2007 season with a big question mark at quarterback, it appears that the Sooners have found their answer in redshirt freshman Sam Bradford. The 6'5, 210 pound Oklahoma City native burst onto the scene in week 1, racking up 363 yards in the air, along with 3 touchdowns and an amazing 91% completion rate. With an ideal frame and a strong arm, the Sooners have found their answer at the quarterback position.

In the backfield with Bradford will be Allen Patrick, the senior running back who essentially saved the Sooners season after star tailback Adrian Peterson was sidelined for the year with a leg injury. After taking over for the injured Peterson, Patrick rolled up 725 yards and 4 touchdowns in only six starts. Most likely splitting carries with Patrick will be redshirt freshman, all everything recruit, Demarco Murray. After a fantastic spring which saw his stock rise and hype build among fans, Murray didn't disappoint in his first start. The electric back found the endzone an astonishing 5 times, while averaging an impressive 6.9 yards a carry. Between Patrick and Murray, the Sooners will feature one of the better running games they see all season.

At wide receiver the Sooners look to future NFL 1st round draft pick Malcom Kelly. At 6'4, 215 pounds, Kelly is a match up nightmare for opposing defenses. With great hands and impressive ball skills, Kelly will prove to be a major challenge for the Hurricane secondary. Opposite Kelly will be Oklahoma's speed specialist, Juaquin Iglesias. A junior, Iglesias possesses the ability to score from anywhere on the field. An electric runner, he could provide the big plays for the Sooners on the outside.

Catching passes at tight end will be a talented duo, featuring Joe Jon Finley and Jermaine Gresham. The extremely athletic Finley hauled in 241 yards and 3 touchdowns in '06. Equally talented is 6'6, 260 pound sophomore Gresham. The Sooners look to involve Gresham in the passing game more in '07, and he is off to a fast start after grabbing his first touchdown in the season opener.

The biggest unit – both figuratively and literally – for the Oklahoma offense is the offensive line. The anchor of the line is junior center Jon Cooper. Flanking Cooper are guards Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker. Robinson stands an impressive 6'5 352 pounds, while former JUCO standout Brandon Walker checks in at a stout 6'3 307 pounds. On the outside is a pair of massive tackles. At 6'8 352 pounds, junior tackle Phil Loadholt is saddled with the task of protecting Sam Bradford's blind side. His counterpart will be Brandon Braxton, another behemoth at 6'5 325 pounds. Together, these five form arguably the Sooner's most talented and feared unit.

Oklahoma's other line is talented, too. It starts in the middle where former Parade All-American defensive tackle Gerald McCoy aims to set the tone for a physical front. Standing at an opposing 6'4 300 pounds, the athletic McCoy has the talent to both clog the run and rush the passer. His running mate will be another former 5 star and another former #1 at his position out of high school, DeMarcus Granger. Granger, who checks in at 6'3 307 pounds, recorded 4.5 tackles for a loss in 2006 despite seeing limited time. Rushing the passer for the Sooners will be John Williams and Austin English. English, who has yet to take a snap at defensive end, is a speedy end with good strength. At the other end is Williams, a senior, who is physically impressive at 6'5 256 pounds, but often injured. He'll get a chance to show what he can do this season.

Manning the mike position for the Sooners is Curtis Lofton, a hard-hitting junior who recorded 37 tackles in 2006. Flanking Lofton on one side will be highly touted sophomore Ryan Reynolds. After missing all of 2006 with a torn ACL, Reynolds impressed enough with his size and speed combination to earn a starting spot in 2007. On the other side will be senior Lewis Baker. A former defensive back, Baker hopes to make a smooth transition this season.

Locking down wide receivers for the Sooner's will be a talented group, led by budding super star Nic Harris. The junior safety, who stands at a freakish 6'3 223 pounds, recorded 63 tackles with 8 pass break ups and 4 interceptions. The impressive part? He only started four games. Occupying the other safety spot will be former corner back, D.J. Wolfe. Wolfe is just 5'11 201 pounds, but he is a very speedy defender with good cover skills.

Manning up the corners will be Marcus Walker and Reggie Smith. Walker, who is a senior, is a lightning quick cover man. In 2006, he served as the Sooner's main lockdown cornerback, breaking up 9 passes and picking off 3. Patrolling the opposite side will be former safety Reggie Smith. At 6'1, 200 pounds, the Sooner's feel Smith is athletic enough to be their physical corner. A converted safety, Smith has the ability to jam his man but also keep up in man coverage. Oklahoma's secondary could very well turn out to be their strongest defensive unit in 2007.

The special teams unit for Oklahoma is headlined by one of the most accurate kickers in all of the country: Garrett Hartley. Hartley connected on 19 of 20 field goals in 2006. Handling the punts for the Sooner's will be either Michael Cohen – 41 yard average- or Mike Knall – 33 yard average.

Overall, the Sooners seem to be loaded at the skill positions on offense, as well as their defensive line and backfield. If the Canes hope to leave Norman with an upset, it will be imperative for Miami to rattle the young Bradford and have success running the football. If Freeman is forced to win the game in the most hostile environment he's every played in, against one of the most skilled secondary's the he's every faced, then the odds of a Canes win drop dramatically.


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