Scouting NTU Opponent OU

The 2007 Oklahoma Sooner offense has the potential to be one of the most potent offensives in the nation. The strengths of OU's offense are the offensive line, the running backs and the receiver corps. The Sooners return eight starters on offense, only having to replace RB Adrian Peterson, QB Paul Thompson and left tackle Chris Messner.

OFFENSE: The 2007 Oklahoma Sooner offense has the potential to be one of the most potent offensives in the nation. The strengths of OU's offense are the offensive line, the running backs and the receiver corps. The Sooners return eight starters on offense, only having to replace RB Adrian Peterson, QB Paul Thompson and left tackle Chris Messner. The only real weakness on offense is at quarterback. It is weakness due to a lack of experience, not because a lack of talent at the position. OU's new signal-caller is Sam Bradford, a redshirt freshman, who has yet to take a college snap. Bradford won the starting job in the fall after a long battle with junior Joey Halzle and true freshman Keith Nichol. He has the talent, but Bradford's ability to make plays and make good decisions will go a long way in determining what type of season that Oklahoma will have.

One comfort for Bradford while he gets his feet wet in Division One college football, is that the OU offensive line is big, experienced and one of the top five offensive lines in the nation. The Sooners return eight offensive lineman with real game experience and six players that have started at least one game. The headliner of the line is All-American candidate George "Duke" Robinson. At 6-5 and 330 pounds, Robinson is a punishing blocker that led all OU linemen last season in pancake blocks. The OU coaches are very excited about JUCO transfer Phil Loadholt, who has taken over the starting left tackle spot. At 6-8, 350 pounds, once Loadholt gets a hold of a defender , it is over. Despite missing half the spring with a foot injury, Loadholt proved the OU coaches that he was good enough to earn the starting left tackle position.

Despite the loss of former Heisman Trophy runner-up and All-American running back, Adrian Peterson to the NFL, Oklahoma is loaded at the running back position. OU is four deep at RB, with Allen Patrick, DeMarco Murray, Chris Brown and Mossis Madu. While Peterson was injured last season, Patrick and Brown both averaged over 150 yards a game on the ground in the games that they started in his place. The good news for North Texas is that Patrick will most likely miss the game while he is still recovering from a sprained ankle and Brown will not play in the game due to the fact that he is suspended for violating team rules. But, the bad news is that redshirt freshman DeMarco Murray is probably the biggest home-run threat and playmaker of all of OU's talented backs. In front of national television audience on ESPN during OU's spring game, Murray electrified the crowd, carrying five times for 105 yards.

Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly led OU in receptions and receiving touchdowns last season. His great hands, his size, his ability to get open and his great route-running make Kelly one of the top receivers in the country. Sophomore Adron Tennell is ready for a break-out season and is another big time playmaker in the making for OU's receiver corps. Tennell's size and speed make him a dangerous big play threat down the field and he was one of Bradford's favorite targets during the spring and fall camps. At tight end, the OU coaches love sophomore Jermaine Gresham's freakish athleticism and his ability to split out, creating mismatches for the 6-6, 250 pound tight end.

DEFENSE: The strength of the Oklahoma defense is the secondary. This secondary, who many experts have rated as the number one secondary in college, has two of the top cornerbacks in the country in Marcus Walker and Reggie Smith. Walker and Smith combined for six interceptions and seventeen pass break ups last year. Returning free safety Darrien Williams, who many feel is among the top free safeties that will be available for next years' NFL draft, will miss this game because he is still recovering from off season knee surgery. Junior Nic Harris will start in his place and he has been one of OU's top playmakers on defense from the nickel back position. Harris led the Sooner defense last season with four interceptions and was third in tackles with 68.

OU's defensive line has some experience and they have a lot of talent. The starting DT tandem of DeMarcus Granger and Gerald McCoy were both ranked as the # 1 DT's coming out of high school during their senior seasons. John Williams is a tall and quick at one of the starting DE spots, while Auston English had the coaches talking up his abilities and his performance during the spring and summer practices. Red shirt freshman Jeremy Beal, senior Alonzo Dotson and junior Alan Davis will also see plenty of time as back-up DE's.

The Sooner LB corps has plenty of talent, but is a bit unproven. The Sooners lost their top two tacklers on defense from last year, All-American LB Rufus Alexander and middle linebacker Zach Latimer. Junior Curtis Lofton started many games last season and he has won the starting middle linebacker job. Sophomore Ryan Reynolds missed the last two seasons with knee injuries, but now appears to be back to full strength at the weak side linebacker position. Senior Lewis Baker is a bit undersized, but he makes up for that with great speed and a nose for the football at the strong side linebacker spot.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Oklahoma kicking game is in very good hands with All-Big 12 place kicker Garrett Hartley. Hartley connected on 18 or 19 kicks last year with the only miss being a blocked kick. His strong leg also aided him with a good number of touchbacks last season on kick offs. The OU punters, Michael Cohen and Mike Knall are solid punter and both had great springs punting the ball. On kick off returns, OU has two very dangerous return men in Reggie Smith and Juaquin Iglesias. Iglesias averaged 25.9 yards per kick off return and took one kick off back for an 88 yard touchdown. Smith also serves as OU's punt returner. He returned one punt for a 62 yard touchdown last year and has the ability to take it to the house each time he has the ball in his hands.


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