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Oklahoma spring wrap

5/6/2010

2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters: Offense (9), Defense(4) P/K (2)

Top returners: QB Landry Jones, RB DeMarco Murray, LB Travis Lewis, S Quinton Carter, WR Ryan Broyles, DE Jeremy Beal, DE Frank Alexander

Key losses: DT Gerald McCoy, OL Trent Williams, QB Sam Bradford, RB Chris Brown, DE Auston English, OL Brian Simmons, OL Brody Eldridge

2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Utah State

Sept. 11 Florida State

Sept. 18 Air Force

Sept. 25 at Cincinnati

Oct. 2 Texas (at Dallas)

Oct. 16 Iowa State

Oct. 23 at Missouri

Oct. 30 Colorado

Nov. 6 at Texas A&M

Nov. 13 Texas Tech

Nov. 20 at Baylor

Nov. 27 at Oklahoma State

2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Chris Brown (774 yards)

Passing: Landry Jones* (3,198 yards)

Receiving: Ryan Broyles* (1,120 yards)

Tackles: Travis Lewis* (108)

Sacks: Jeremy Beal* (11)

Interceptions: Brian Jackson (4)

Three spring answers

1. O-line no longer offensive. Coach Bob Stoops tabbed his offensive and defensive lines as two of the most improved units on the team, a big difference from a year ago when Stoops called out his offensive linemen for not working hard enough. Part of the problem last season was injuries, and right guard Eric Mensik was lost for six weeks with an MCL injury, but even without their three best blockers from a season ago, the line is further ahead as a unit than they were last spring.

2. Young talent rising. Plenty of young players didn’t get on the field in 2009, for various reasons, whether it be injury, more experienced talent, or still being in high school. But linebackers Tom Wort and Ronnell Lewis, along with cornerback Demontre Hurst and receiver Kenny Stills could be big parts of Oklahoma’s 2010 team. Lewis will help replace one of the linebacker positions vacated by Ryan Reynolds and Keenan Clayon, but moved around in the spring. Wort is a likely starter as well after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Hurst will help replace one of the corner positions vacated by Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson. And Stills could start for a receiving corps that struggled in 2009.

3. Lewis takes the reins. Oklahoma’s defense won’t be short on talent, headlined by defensive ends Jeremy Beal and Frank Alexander. But junior linebacker Travis Lewis, the team’s leading tackler as a sophomore, is ready to take over as the voice of the team, talking plenty of trash before the spring game and backing it up with his play, helping his team pitch a shutout. Gerald McCoy was the heart of the defense last season. This year, it’s Travis Lewis.

Three fall questions

1. Can the Sooners stay healthy? The theme for last season was injuries everywhere for the Sooners. Stoops says confidently he isn’t changing a thing, and it’s the right move. But it won’t stop fans—and maybe a couple of coaches—from cringing every time a player goes down awkwardly. Injuries turned the Sooners from a national title contender into an eight-win team a year ago, and another year of getting beat up could add to the frustration.

2. How much better will Landry Jones be? Jones played well when forced into action early by Sam Bradford’s injured shoulder. He played poorly in games against Texas and Nebraska, but finished the season with a career-high 418 yards and three touchdowns against Stanford. Jones is loaded with potential, and Stoops is optimistic at how Jones will look after a full spring and fall as starter.

3. Do the Sooners have a kicker? Jimmy Stevens lost his job to walk-on Patrick O’Hara late last season, but the two combined were just 1-of-8 from beyond 40 yards last season. A rainy spring game did little to settle the spring debate, and a couple misses on reasonable kicks by whoever wins the job in the fall could lead to another switch.