Football season is almost here for Oklahoma. And SoonersIlustrated.com is eager to get you ready for what could be a memorable 2014 season.
During the next two weeks, Bob Przybylo and Justin Hite are going to reveal their top 11 players on offense and defense and how those players will impact what happens on the field this fall. Let the countdown and debates begin.
Bob Przybylo: Offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson. It seems a little crazy to have a left tackle so low in this list. Everybody knows how important a left tackle is for the blind side of a right-handed quarterback.
But OU was able to play the final two games of the 2013 season without Thompson as Derek Farniok got his first start in Bedlam and Daryl Williams (coming later in the list) moved over from right tackle in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Because of that, Thompson finds himself at No. 6 when you figure the left tackle would be around No. 3 or No. 4. Thompson not practicing during the spring also left some question marks as to just how healthy he’ll actually be when the season rolls around.
Health concerns aside, Thompson had a solid 2013 season until the injury bug. If he can be at that same level or get even better, it is nothing but good news for the Sooners in 2014.
Justin Hite: Running back Keith Ford. While he might not be the starter by the end of the season, Ford will be counted on early to lead the committee in the Sooners’ backfield. Look for Joe Mixon to put some pressure on him for that spot and eventually take it over.
This season, though, is Ford’s to lose. Adrian Peterson isn’t walking through that door. So don’t expect Ford to carry the ball 250 times for 1,500 yards.
I would expect the distribution to be much more even.
The lead ball carrier could wind up with fewer than 100 carries out of the back field. Ford only has a chance to lose that job. He has to fix his fumble issues, but if he can, he’s likely the most complete back in Oklahoma’s stable.
On a limit sample size, Ford averaged 5.8 yards per carry as a freshman. He’s on a heavy up curve of progression, even as a top-level recruit.
Is he an All-Conference contender now? Probably not, but he could be by the time his career is finished.
Oh yeah, he’s probably the team’s starting kick returner, too. For me, that’s an undervalued position.