Hite: Revisiting OU 11 offense

Some were right. Some were wrong. Revisiting what we thought Oklahoma's offense was going to be this season.

Back before the season, made a list of who would be the top 11 OU performers on offense. Now that regular season is in the books, time to look back and see how it all shook out.

No.11 WR Durron Neal

Why he was No. 11: There were a lot of question marks regarding the Oklahoma offense this season, and for the Sooners to be good, one or two receivers had to step up. With the expectation at Dorial Green-Beckham wouldn’t be eligible; Neal was one of the better options to step up.

What he did in 2014:Neal had a fine season, finishing the regular season with 40 catches, 508 yards and three touchdowns. Once he was elevated to the No. 2 receiver, more was expected of him though. When Sterling Shepard went out, they needed him even more.

Verdict: Too low. Not because he was a better player but because Oklahoma needed more from him than he gave. He should have been higher because of how important he became to Oklahoma, he just didn’t reach that high.

No. 10 QB Cody Thomas

Why he was No. 10: Back-up quarterback: He was going to play at some time, especially with Trevor Knight’s injury history.

What he did in 2014: Thomas played in seven games this season and started the final three – two victories. He was much better handing it off than throwing it – completing just 45.5 percent of his passes and throwing twice as many interceptions as touchdowns.

Verdict: About right.

No. 9 OL Dionte Savage

Why he was No. 9: Mainly with the expectation that he was going to start at left guard. When he didn’t, Adam Shead should have been in this spot. So, we’ll just change it to that.

What he did in 2014: Savage was Shead’s back-up all season, but both played a big role in Oklahoma’s rushing offense, which ranked near the top of the country and at the top of the Big 12 all season.

Verdict: Too low. The way Shead came back from injury and played, he should have been much higher on this list. Savage was obviously listed as too high.

No. 8 WR Derrick Woods

Why he was No. 8:Um….I’m not really sure, now.

What he did in 2014: He was injured early and was removed from the team by the end of the season.

Verdict: Too high. Anybody else would have been better placed in this spot.

No. 7 TE Blake Bell

Why he was No. 7:Bell’s transition to tight end was going to be key this season. How well he blocked and how good of an option he was for Knight were going to play major roles.

What he did in 2014: He was a bit slow to find himself in the passing game with his best output in Oklahoma’s last game. He had just 15 catches for 213 yards and four touchdowns. Blocking-wise, he figured it out. Bell was good in the open field and was a key in Oklahoma’s rushing attack.

Verdict: About right on my prediction, but just based on his usage by Oklahoma this year, he is too high on this list.

No. 6 RB Keith Ford

Why he was No. 6:The running game was going to be important this season, and Ford was the incumbent starter.

What he did in 2014: Ford missed most of the season with a foot injury but managed to average 5.7 yards per carry and score five touchdowns. When his injury took him off the field, he was Oklahoma’s leading scorer and one of the top touchdown producers in the Big 12.

Verdict: Too high. Being the highest ranked running back on this list makes him too high alone. If he had been the starter all year, it might have been spot on.

No. 5 Ty Darlington

Why he was No. 5: Darlington had a tough job on the line, and I thought Oklahoma would need him to be pretty good. As a center, he needed to execute and read the defense. Replacing Gabe Ikard was a big hurdle to jump.

What he did in 2014: Darlington wasn’t bad by any means, but he was the fifth-best offensive lineman out of the five. That’s not a knock on him, but he occasionally got beat on one-on-one or pushed back into the pocket.

Verdict: Too high. This is where Oklahoma’s third-best offensive lineman should have been Darlington just wasn’t that. Adam Shead should have dropped into this spot.

No. 4 Tyrus Thompson

Why he was No. 4:Bookend tackle, most athletic offensive line on the team and a fifth-year senior. Thompson was going to be good and needed to be good.

What he did in 2014: Oklahoma had the best pass-blocking line in the country. Is there really any bigger credit you can give a left tackle?

Verdict: Too low. Thompson definitely should have been moved up a spot. No. 3 Sterling Shepard

Why he was No. 3:Shepard was Oklahoma’s lone game-changer on offense. He had to be big and big under enormous pressure. He had the ability to do it.

What he did in 2014: Shepard was the best receiver in the Big 12 when he wasn’t hurt – and that includes a couple pass catchers who are headed to the NFL soon. He finished with 50 catches, 957 yards and five touchdowns despite being hobbled by hip and groin injuries for almost half the season.

Verdict: Too high. Shepard just wasn’t able to have the impact on the game that he needed. Each week he played un-injured, the opposing secondary had really only one player to cover. No. 2 Trevor Knight

Why he was No. 2: I thought a lot about putting Shepard at No. 2 but decided on Knight because Oklahoma needed him to be good. They needed him to shine to contend for a national championship – or not suck at the very least.

What he did in 2014: He wasn’t good. His numbers aren’t awful – 58.1 completion percentage, 2,197 yards in nine games and 14 touchdowns. But he threw nine interceptions, and lost Oklahoma a pair of games before suffering an injury against Baylor.

Verdict: Just right. Knight isn’t the second-best player on the team, but Oklahoma needed him to be. He wasn’t even close.

No. 1 Daryl Williams

Why he was No. 1: The run game was going to be severely important to the Sooners this season, and there is no better run blocker wearing Crimson and Cream than Williams. He might not show up on any stat sheet, but he was key.

What he did in 2014: Oklahoma’s offense was as clean as could be. Runners got to the second level with ease, and the Sooners’ quarterbacks were untouched. Well, there were eight sacks, but they were the least touched quarterbacks in the country.

Verdict: Just right. Williams was the best and most important player this season. He never had an average game.

Best pick:Well, I think No. 1 is still No. 1. Daryl Williams.

Worst pick: Oh, clearly Derrick Woods. I couldn’t have been more wrong on that one. I’m actually kind of embarrassed. Although, I would have loved to have snuck Samaje Perine into the OU 11 at any spot.


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