Oklahoma opens spring practice on March 5 with the annual Red-White game set for April 9.
The Sooners will also hold pro day on March 9 for all departing players. But there are questions abound regarding the Sooners’ outlook for next year. Even coming off an 11-2 season, the Big 12 championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff, the Sooners still have holes that need to be filled.
Over the next week, Sooners Illustrated’s Justin Hite and Bob Przybylo take a look at five major questions surrounding Oklahoma. Here’s one of Hite’s most pressing questions:
Is P.J. Mbanasor ready to be a starter?
Nobody is going to forget Mbanasor’s forced meltdown against Tulsa last year. He really should have never been in the game to begin with. The one person that has to forget that dreadful afternoon is Mbanasor himself.
Oklahoma is hoping that he has forgotten it – or will soon at the very least.
Mbanasor was recruited to be an early starter, and he fits into the mold perfectly. Jordan Thomas has laid the groundwork of what to expect from the Sooners’ cornerbacks moving forward, and Mbanasor is almost a mirror image. Both are bright players. Both had struggles in their first years. Both are/were expected to be full-time starters as sophomores.
This spring will be about seeing how much Mbanasor has recovered mentally. He has the physical tools but can’t lose out in his own head. That Tulsa experience could be an anomaly or it could be the trend. It’s all about how Mbansor responds from a confidence standpoint.
The reason the spring is so vital to Mbanasor’s development is that the Sooners have no cupcakes early in the schedule. Houston and Ohio State right off the bat won’t give the sophomore a chance to gain confidence.
Oklahoma has renewed confidence in Dakota Austin and Will Johnson after last season, but it’s clear that the Sooners would rather use both of them in nickel/back-up roles. It’s Mbanasor’s job to lose. He’ll be given a long leash to work out his issues.
Zack Sanchez left a void in the secondary, and it’ll be up to Mbanasor’s mentality to focus to fill at least some of that.