With Oklahoma on a bye week and one-third of the season left, SoonersIllustrated.com asked its readers to decide what is the biggest surprise of OU's season to this point?
The choices were:
*Inconsistent QB play
*How physical the OL has been
*Defensive pressure (Tapper, Striker)
*DBs (Sanchez, Lynn)
*Special teams miscues
*OU 7-1, No. 10 in BCS down three starters for season
And the results were:
2 votes – Other. A couple of choices were circulating among the readers. One has been the fact OU lost to Texas in the Red River Rivalry. After dominating the Longhorns the last two seasons, Texas flipped the script in an impressive 36-20 victory. Another option discussed was how the defensive line has been pushed around. The pressure has been good, but OU has had difficulty to stop the run now that Phillips and Nelson are out.
4 votes – Special teams miscues. Bringing in Jay Boulware to coach special teams was supposed to make the unit stronger. Through the first couple of games, it felt like that. Ever since? One blunder after another. TCU recovered a pooch kickoff. Texas returned a punt for a touchdown. Kansas blocked a punt. Texas Tech recovered an onside kick. Special teams can swing the tide in games, and OU has to be more consistent in the final four games.
6 votes – DBs (Sanchez, Lynn). Everybody knew one side of the field was locked down with senior cornerback Aaron Colvin, but what about the other spots in the secondary? The unquestioned No. 1 player surprise has been redshirt freshman cornerback Zack Sanchez, who has gone from afterthought to leading the team with 10 pass breakups this season. And senior Gabe Lynn, the source of venom from OU fans the last two seasons, has found his niche at safety and has a team-high three interceptions.
7 votes – How physical the OL has been. When offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh took over in the winter, the objective was clear. OU was going to get nasty. But maybe a bigger surprise has been just how well it has worked. The Sooners are averaging 234 rushing yards per game and have shown the ability to close out games on the ground in the fourth quarter.
28 votes – Defensive pressure (Tapper, Striker). For the OU defense to improve from last season the Sooners were going to have get some pressure on the quarterback. That pressure has come from sophomore defensive end Charles Tapper and sophomore linebacker Eric Striker. The sack totals aren't impressive with Tapper at 4.5 and Striker at 2.5, but they're a constant thorn in the side for opposing offensive lines.
31 votes – Inconsistent QB play. The Sooners aren't used to having quarterback questions. But through eight games of the season, a lot of questions still linger. Junior Blake Bell hasn't been consistent. He has shown signs of greatness but also signs of not being sure of himself. After getting his shot in the first two games, it doesn't look like redshirt freshman Trevor Knight will get another chance this season.
And OU's biggest surprise of the season is…
39 votes – OU is 7-1, No. 10 in BCS despite down three starters. Yes, Corey Nelson is out. So, too, is Jordan Phillips. And now fullback Trey Millard is gone. Three starters, two team captains, all injured for the rest of the season. Through it all, OU is 7-1 overall, 4-1 in Big 12 and No. 10 in the BCS. Dreams of another conference championship are still fully in play, but it won't be easy as Sooners close with three of last four games on the road.