Mid-Summer Preview: Oklahoma

The problem in Norman last season really wasn't the offense as there were some clear explanations, primarily injuries, as to why OU found themselves limited at times in moving the football and scoring points. The biggest problem was on defense where schools like Baylor, TCU, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State in the second half of Bedlam could not be stopped.

Obviously, Clemson's offense had it their way in the bowl game. Drastic changes have been made on offense and subtle changes on defens. We'll see how those work out for head coach Bob Stoops and Company.

Stoops, by the way, is a tremendous leader and does an excellent job as the face and the direction of the program. It will be the little things that will likely dictate where this season sends the Sooners.

On offense the arrival of Lincoln Riley is one step on offense. We also think the move of Cale Gundy to inside receivers coach, an important position in the "air raid" scheme will benefit Oklahoma.

The first step is the trigger and if the throwing soreness of this summer is not serious then we fully expect Bake Mayfield, the former Big 12 Newcomer of the Year at Texas Tech, to be the starting quarterback. Mayfield knows this offense and as long as he learns not to take too many chances and throw it to the other side then he will be fine.

Oklahoma will be okay up front, especially for how this offense lightens the load on offensive linemen, and those big guys can focus on being mashers when called upon to block for Semaje Perine or even young pup Joe Mixon at running back. Perine is a mauler with speed and Mixon is a fleet, athletic, and explosive option in the backfield.

The Sooners do not have great depth at wide receiver but they will have two dangerous targets in Sterling Shepard, who is back from a bad hamstring injury a year ago, and junior college transfer Dede Westbrook. Westbrook is really good and figures to be an instant success in this offense.

Defensively, Oklahoma has some stars with linebackers Dominique Alexander and Eric Striker along with highly touted cornerback Zack Sanchez. Alexander and Striker are the real deal and the return of Frank Shannon could make that position the strength of the defense. The defensive line will be mostly young and unproven.

Sanchez is a feast or famine corner who makes a lot of huge plays but has also given up some huge plays the other way. The secondary will be the major area that needs to shore up across the back end of the defense for Oklahoma to be better on that side of the ball.

Oklahoma Sooners (8-4 / 6-3)
9/5 Akron - Oklahoma overcomes a few rough patches in the opener for a 38-16 win.
9/12 @Tennessee - The much awaited trip to Tennessee comes a few weeks early for OU as a few younger players struggle, and Tennessee wins 27-21.
9/19 Tulsa - Golden Hurricane "air raid" not as good as Riley's and OU 42-21.
10/3 West Virginia - Mountaineers struggle in Norman and Holgorsen sees Riley calling plays he'd like to call, 23-14 OU.
10/10 Texas@Dallas - Texas and OU in a shootout win by the Sooners 35-28.
10/17 @Kansas State - Revenge is sweet for Oklahoma 33-28.
10/24 Texas Tech - Riley gets his first look at his former school and friend Kliff with a 42-20 win.
10/31 @Kansas - Halloween in Lawrence is all treat 41-6.
11/7 Iowa State - Sooners down Cyclones 38-14.
11/14 @Baylor - Tough road begins in Waco with a 45-24 loss.
11/21 TCU - OU hangs for awhile but can't match Boykin's explosion, 54-27.
11/28 @Oklahoma State - Thanksgiving is better to the Cowboys than the Sooners as Pokes win 41-31.

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