2009 Oklahoma Sooners Football Preview
2008 Record: (12-2, 7-1)
2008 Bowl: BCS National Championship vs. Florida (L 14-24)
Coach: Bob Stoops (109-24 at Oklahoma, 109-24 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Wilson
Defensive Coordinator: Brent Venables
Other Key Returnees: WR Ryan Broyes, LB Keenan Clayton, DE Auston English, CB Brian Jackson, DT Gerald McCoy, RB DeMarco Murray, LB Ryan Reynolds, DT Adrian Taylor, OT Trent Williams
Key Losses: C Jon Cooper, S Nic Harris, S Lendy Holmes, WR Juaquin Iglesias, WR Manuel Johnson, OT Phil Loadholt, G Duke Robinson, G Brandon Walker
Depending on who you talk to, four Oklahoma players who opted to stay in school could have been first round draft picks. Quarterback Sam Bradford may have been the first overall selection and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, offensive tackle Trent Williams and tight end Jermaine Gresham would not have been too far behind. Instead, they are all back in Norman and ready to make yet another run at a national championship.
Bradford threw for an amazing 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns last year. What can he do for an encore? The offense has some major losses, but they are not in the backfield. Running backs Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray both eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark and it is quite possible that they both will again this year too. Oklahoma was known for their offense last season, but it could be the defense that turns the Sooners into a top five team. Besides safeties Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes, Oklahoma returns their entire defense. The team tallied three sacks per game last year and that lofty number could get even more impressive with the return of ends Jeremy Beal and Auston English and tackle Gerald McCoy. The group in the middle of the defense is equally impressive anchored by Travis Lewis, Keenan Clayton and Ryan Reynolds. As long as the new safeties can hold their own, this will be a very strong defense.
On the field the problem is the offensive line. Williams is back and will be a great tackle, but the best o-line in football has to replace Phil Loadholt, Duke Robinson, Jon Cooper and Brandon Walker. Certainly Coach Bob Stoops has plenty of big horses in the stable, but the Sooners line will not be as effective without those four. With Gresham back Bradford has his safety outlet, but who are going to be the new deep threats? Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson were the two most productive receivers last season and now they are gone. That leaves Ryan Broyles as the main target and a handful of inexperienced players who have to step up and be ready to contribute.
The Bottom Line for the Sooners:
Despite the on-field issues, which will likely not be issues at all since Oklahoma will reload quite quickly, the real problem could be the team’s mindset. The Sooners have lost some big games over the last few years, including last year’s national championship. Can this team win the big game? The answer is probably yes, but is this the group that can win it all and put that stigma behind them?
By Joel Welser
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