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Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Mailbag: Oklahoma edition

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Lots of good Oklahoma questions this week. Much appreciated. Had to cut out a bunch of solid ones.

Here's the rest of the teams we've covered so far: Timm Decker in Louisville, Ky. asks: Do you prefer OU or Texas' method of scheduling? OU takes risk and schedules some big names which can help out in tie breaker situations and overall status, but that doesn't help if you don't win those games. I contend that had OU scheduled like Texas and played cupcakes, then Bradford probably wouldn't have been hurt and they meet Texas undefeated. People rip Texas's schedule but that didn't seem to matter last year as they played for the title. Over the course of many years, I think you are more likely to gain from the benefits of a Texas-like schedule (small chance of non-conference losses) vs. the benefits of an OU-like schedule (advantage in team comparisons / tie-breakers). What are your thoughts?

TBowman88 in Derby, Kan. asks: Why does Bob Stoops and David Boren continue to make one of the toughest schedules for themselves year after year while watching the majority or the other Big 12 powers play a cream puff non-conference schedule which in UT's case has sometimes help them go to a BCS game.

David Ubben: I’m not sure you can definitively say one is better than the other. I don’t have a strong preference, although Oklahoma earns a lot more street cred in the way they schedule. With the strength of the Big 12 in the past few years, any extremely difficult nonconference games were just gravy, but the tough schedule definitely helped push Oklahoma into the title game in 2008.

Oklahoma’s reasoning for scheduling the way it does is a desire to put a quality product on the field for fans to watch, and it obviously helps in December, too. But like last year, playing teams like BYU and Miami early in the season can hurt you (and your quarterback) pretty badly. Oklahoma doesn’t sound like it has any intention of changing the way it schedules, and they’ve got games with Tennessee, Notre Dame and Ohio State on the schedule in the future, in addition to Florida State and Cincinnati this season.

The one thing you have to watch out for is if Texas gets left out of a championship game, and the nonconference schedule becomes a reason, their nonconference scheduling strategy might change playing in a Big 12 without Nebraska, even if they’re playing an additional conference game.


Coop-@-loop in McMinnville, Tenn. asks: So my wifes b-day is comin up, what should i get her, flowers and perfume or a #4 (Kenny Stills) jersey?

DU: Coop, I’m hardly an expert on the fairer sex, but you’d forever regret buying her a Kenny Stills jersey for her birthday. Trust me on this one.

Go with the classic Landry Jones QB jersey for the birthday. Save Stills for an anniversary. You know, a young guy with a future, just like your relationship.


Vgg in OK asks: Do you think OU is just kind of sitting back happily and listening to all this UT/NEB stuff, and just quietly going under the radar a little bit? I know everyone is on this NEB bandwagon and maybe rightfully so, and i know they arent on OU's schedule. But it took 5 picks at home to barely beat my sooners. my point is, i guess, is that the biggest game on texas' schedule is not nebraska nor is it the toughest game.

DU: In some ways, Oklahoma might be. But it’s clear (judging by Texas’ lack of a response to any of the Nebraska talk) that Nebraska is taking this game much more seriously than Texas is. That’s not to say Texas is taking Nebraska lightly, but when you’ve had so many recent, memorable close losses to one team and so much controversy at the top of the decision-making chain, that’s pretty natural on Nebraska’s end. It also helps that the game is in Lincoln, and it helps Nebraska to further hype the game to its fans. But Texas knows who its historical rival is, even if the Huskers are gunning for them in 2010. No one has to tell them they’re responsible for showing up to both.


Paul Johnstone in Chicago, Ill. writes: David: Many Sooner fans are concerned about the offensive line after last year. While it concerns me, with the rash of injuries, there was a new line every game last year giving the team as a unit this year invaluable experience. My real concern is breaking in 2 new CB's in a pass happy league. What is do you feel is the team's biggest question mark going into the 2010 season?

DU: Definitely the offensive line. They’ve got some talented guys in Stephen Good and Cory Brandon, but they really couldn’t ever put it together last year. In addition, they lose the three best blockers from last year’s team in Trent Williams, Brody Eldridge and Brian Simmons. The corners should do really well; they’ve got a lot of depth there. I expect Demontre Hurst to be everything Bob Stoops thinks he is. Jonathan Nelson and Jamell Fleming have a lot of game experience, especially Nelson, even if a lot of that experience came at safety last year for Nelson and on special teams for Fleming. Gabe Lynn has a lot of potential, too, and should get some valuable playing time this season.


Jacob in Nebraska asks: Are you as high on Oklahoma's depth at Wide out as I am? There is experience all the way from Broyles to Reynolds. Plus you add on young guy's like Mccay and Stills.

DU: I’m not. I don’t have a lot of faith in any of those guys. Ryan Broyles is obviously a superstar, but past him, Oklahoma had an ever-spinning rotation of No. 2 guys in 2009. Dejuan Miller looks like the most likely guy to step into that role after finishing strong last year, but him becoming a non-factor like he was for most of the first half of the season wouldn’t shock me. There’s a lot of potential there in guys like Miller and Jaz Reynolds and the young receivers like Kenny Stills and Justin McCay, but they have to prove they can be consistent contributors on the field before I start claiming Oklahoma has any depth at receiver. Brandon Caleb has been underwhelming, but as a senior, he might even end up being the guy who Jones can count on opposite Broyles.


Travis in Norman, Okla. asks: I'm hearing rumors that another quarterback (possibly Drew Allen) is the front-runner to become the Sooners' playmaker this fall. Any truth?

DU: Not much. It would take a monumental meltdown for Landry Jones to lose his starting job, but Drew Allen and incoming freshman Blake Bell should both be solid backups.


Jon in Dallas, Texas asks: How realistic was the possibility of Oklahoma joining the SEC during the realignment talks?

DU: President David Boren said the Sooners had an offer, but like I wrote earlier today, Oklahoma didn’t sound real eager to break up with Texas. It's what was best for both schools.