Five Questions: OU vs. BYU

The No. 3 Sooners are big favorites heading in to the first week match-up against No. 20 BYU. Despite their lofty ranking and the return of Sam Bradford there are still a number of questions about the team that will be answered by the time the final whistle blows on Saturday night.

1. Who will OU call on to replace Jermaine Gresham?

What happens now that the OU offense will be without the touchdown machine?

The consensus is that sophomore back-up tight end James Hanna would get the nod. Hanna could definitely make some things happen in the vertical passing game.

Hanna would have been Gresham's back-up and the OU coaching staff already planned to use him when the All-American tight end was winded.

"Initially we thought we might could red-shirt him," OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson informed. "We think he is probably receiver number five or six on our team as far as making plays."

Trent Ratterree or Eric Mensik would also figure to be in the mix to possibly be named the starter.

"Actually when we go two tights Trent Ratterree is running out there with Jermaine," coach Wilson said last week after a practice. "Eric is kind of the back-up big tight end."

Then again, maybe they just spread it out.

2. How will the offensive line perform?

Brody Eldridge has moved from tight end to center.

Trent Williams has moved from right tackle to left tackle.

Brian Simmons will start at left guard while Cory Brandon and LSU transfer Jarvis Jones will man the right side of the line.

The main back-ups will be Stephen Good and Ben Habern.

Certainly a lot of change, especially compared to last season when the Sooners' starting OL had over 100 games of experience coming in to game one.

The play and health of the OL will have a major impact on the season.

3. How will the wide receiver unit perform?

Like OL there are a lot of new faces. With Gresham out Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray are the leading receivers that return from '08.

Gone are Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson and Quentin Chaney.

Enter Adron Tennell, Brandon Caleb, Mossis Madu, Cameron Kenney, and DeJuan Miller.

"We have got four, five, or six guys we are planning on playing," OU WR coach Jay Norvell explained.

There is certainly some promise there, but at least one of these players needs to emerge as a deep threat to stretch out the defense.

Madu, who made the move from RB to WR in the off-season, believes that some people mat be selling the unit a little bit short.

"I think they really are," Madu informed when asked if people were sleeping on them a little bit. "Now all we have to do is go out there and make plays to show them."

4. Will Ryan Reynolds be back to old form?

We all saw how the defense struggled in the moments after Reynolds went down with an injury in the Texas game a year ago.

So his play could be integral for a successful defense.

"That's why he is a captain," OU head coach Bob Stoops stated. "He understands the defense so well, he is very instinctive in there. The guys feel comfortable with him playing in there."

5. Will the Sooners be a serious contender to compete for the National Title?

No. 1 Florida returns almost everybody from a National Championship team.

No. 2 Texas has a bunch of players coming back and has only lost two games since losing to OU in the Cotton Bowl in '07.

No. 3 Oklahoma has some questions to answer that the other teams do not, but could be categorized as loaded for a run in ‘09.

Outside of the top three teams you would be hard pressed to find someone to agree on who should be number four. Any team could make that case.

So will OU be good enough in '09 to be better than the two teams ranked in front of them?

We will have a much better idea come Sunday morning.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories