Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Hite: No. 3 OU spring question - Will Mark Andrews take on a bigger role this year?

Mark Andrews was expected to be a massive piece of the offense last year. Is 2016 the year he becomes an All-Conference performer?

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:

 

Will Mark Andrews role increase next year?

 

In his first year on the field, Andrews finished with 19 catches, 318 yards and seven touchdowns. It was more than tight end Blake Bell had the year before (16, 214, 4) but still less than most assumed Andrews would finish with as a redshirt freshman.

Some pegged Andrews to have almost 60 catches in the weeks leading up to last year’s season opener. A more conservative estimate put him closer to 40 catches. No matter the guess, most thought Andrews would be a bigger portion of Oklahoma’s offense.

He wasn’t an overwhelming piece – outside of his five-straight touchdown catches or his five-catch game against Kansas.

But this year is another chance.

Andrews had two seniors and a junior above him on the pass-catching totem pole, but he is second on the team in yardage from last season, third in receptions and first in touchdown catches. Andrews’ seven career touchdown catches are equal to the rest of the receiving corps combined.

Ultimately, Andrews place in the offense has to get a little bigger.

Oklahoma’s top two receivers from the last two combined years are gone. Dede Westbrook returns after having finished second on the team in receptions and yards last year. Andrews should have a better grasp on the offense this year and a better understanding of where he fits.

Those two things, combined with the clear mismatch that he presents against anyone on the opposing defense, should provide the chance for a big season. Andrews being one year more familiar with quarterback Baker Mayfield should be the best news for the Sooners.

A good spring could be a massive spring board to a big year.


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