Friday, February 1, 2013
Offseason to-do list: Oklahoma
By David Ubben
Every year, there's lots of turnover and change for every college program. What do the Big 12 teams need to do before next fall? Let's continue our look with the Sooners up in Norman.
1. Figure out if Blake Bell is their guy. All indications are that the BellDozer is about to become the BellThrower, moving his dozing to more of a part-time gig. That said, when he's thrown out of the formation in the last two years, the results haven't been super promising. Still, Bell has a big arm and is likely the heir to Landry Jones as the next Sooners quarterback. Drew Allen's already transferred, but Bell might face some heat this spring from youngster Trevor Knight, who drew rave reviews for his acting work as Johnny Football on the scout team leading up to the Cotton Bowl. Bell is probably the Sooners' future at the position, but he's got to prove it this spring.
2. Fill about a zillion holes on defense. Oklahoma's defense is depleted, though cornerback Aaron Colvin does return. Safety Tony Jefferson and linebacker Tom Wort left for the draft early, and three starters along the defensive line, including Jamarkus McFarland and David King, are gone. Safety Javon Harris grew up a bit this year, but is gone, too. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops had his defense in great shape early in the season, but the wheels fell off late against WVU, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Can he find suitable replacements for all the whole and keep re-establishing his defense in Norman to get the Sooners back into national prominence?
3. Figure out an offensive identity. Regardless of who wins the quarterback job, Oklahoma made it clear that the quarterback running game will be a part of the offense next season. Both Mike and Bob Stoops saw firsthand how maddening it is for a defense that has to cover a dual-threat quarterback who is a true dual threat when it comes to his arm, too. Oklahoma has traditionally been married to pocket passers, but that's going to change. Both Bell and Knight can run, and we saw some zone read from Bell in the Cotton Bowl. Trey Millard is the perfect foil for it. Oklahoma's still going to want its quarterbacks to be pass first, but how much running will be required? That probably depends on who wins and how good they are at executing the quarterback run game.