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Oklahoma spring wrap

5/6/2011

OKLAHOMA

2010 overall record: 12-2

2010 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (7) P/K (2)

Top returners: QB Landry Jones, WR Ryan Broyles, LB Travis Lewis, S Tony Jefferson, WR Kenny Stills

Key losses: RB DeMarco Murray, DE Jeremy Beal, S Quinton Carter, S Jonathan Nelson, OL Eric Mensik, WR Cameron Kenney

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: DeMarco Murray (1,224 yards)

Passing: Landry Jones* (4,718 yards)

Receiving: Ryan Broyles* (1,622 yards)

Tackles: Travis Lewis* (109)

Sacks: Jeremy Beal (8.5)

Interceptions: Jamell Fleming (5)

Three spring answers

1. Replacing Fleming. Jamell Fleming, the team’s top corner from a year ago, isn’t enrolled. Gabe Lynn slid in his starting spot opposite Demontre Hurst and did well, while the Sooners moved former corner Aaron Colvin to safety. Fleming’s status is still very much in flux, but Stoops played it coy when asked about the position in the future. He’s “confident” the Sooners will be OK. We’ll see if that means faith in Lynn or faith that Fleming gets reinstated.

2. Sooners shake off a major injury. Oklahoma’s starting right tackle, Jarvis Jones, went down with a knee injury early in spring camp and may miss a few games next year, but the Sooners may have found a solid replacement in converted tight end Lane Johnson. That’s a big help for an offensive line that struggled to get a push up front at times last season.

3. Future star in the making. Linebacker Corey Nelson turned heads throughout the spring for his play, prompting coach Bob Stoops to call him the best player on the defense. For now, he’s stuck behind three-year starter Travis Lewis, but Stoops vowed to find a way to get the sophomore on the field somehow.

Three fall questions

1. Road woes officially over? Oklahoma finished strong last season, winning four huge games away from Owen Field, including wins over top 25 foes Oklahoma State and Nebraska to win the Big 12 South and Big 12, respectively. Will that maturity carry over to 2011? We’ll find out quick. The Sooners travel to Florida State, a likely top 10 opponent, in the season’s first month.

2. Running back by committee? DeMarco Murray was the featured back in 2010 after spending much of his career splitting carries. This year, though, a committee approach could return for the Sooners. Roy Finch, Brennan Clay and incoming freshman Brandon Williams are likely to split duties, but will any other back crash the party? And how will those carries be distributed?

3. What to expect from the safeties? Jonathan Nelson and Quinton Carter were outstanding, but both safeties are gone. Aaron Colvin showed big potential as a new starter this spring, and Javon Harris looks likely to slide into the opposite safety spot. Nickel back Tony Jefferson is also working at a traditional safety spot periodically. How will they look in the thick of conference play?