Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:08 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Oklahoma.
Spring Practice Starts: Monday, March 5
Spring Game: Saturday, April 14
Returning Starters: Eight offense, seven defense, both specialists
Three Things To Watch For:
1. Utilizing the Belldozer. One of the best things Oklahoma fans heard over the winter was that Landry Jones would be returning for another season. Still, we know what Oklahoma is going to get from Jones in 2012. What we can't be sure of is the role Blake Bell is going to play. In Oklahoma's final 6 games Bell rushed for 13 touchdowns and was seemingly unstoppable in short-yardage situations. You have to think that the Sooners are going to create more packages for Bell to utilize his abilities. Much like Florida did with Tim Tebow when Chris Leak was still around in 2006 and that worked out well for the Gators.
2. A shift in the defense. Mike Stoops is in as defensive coordinator and Brent Venables has left for Clemson. Here's what I feel confident in saying about the Oklahoma defense this season: with Stoops around, a talented secondary that was already one of the best in the Big 12 is going to get even better. The question is how Venables' absence will affect the linebackers and defensive line, with linebackers in particular being a Venables specialty. Spring practices will give us all our first clue as to how things will shake out.
3. Can a running back emerge? Dominique Whaley was a pleasant surprise for the Sooners in 2011, leading the team in rushing with 627 yards even though his year ended early thanks to a broken ankle. Because of that ankle, Whaley won't be participating in spring practice. Which means there are plenty of reps to go around for guys like Roy Finch, Brennan Clay, and incoming freshman Alex Ross. It would be a bonus for the Sooners if one of these backs steps up and shows they're capable of taking on a big role in the offense should Whaley have trouble coming back from injury.
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Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 12:36 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Oklahoma's depth at running back took a hit earlier this week when it was announced that Brandon Williams was transferring from Oklahoma to join Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. The five-star running back came to Norman with a considerable amount of hype, but he only carried the ball 46 times in 2011.
Shortly after the news became public, rumors started swirling around the Oklahoma program that Williams wouldn't be the only running back leaving. Word was that Brennan Clay would be following Williams out the door. Which is all news to Clay, as he told The Oklahoman that he hasn't even contemplated leaving Oklahoma, let alone is he about to go through with it.
“I have no idea where that came from,” Clay told the paper. “They make that up every year. I remember I came in as a freshman and they said I was transferring. That's not true at all.”
“People always have something to say. They want to put you down or speculate. It is what it is. It's not true. I'm not worried about it.”
Which is good news for Oklahoma, as losing a player with the potential of Brandon Williams is bad enough. With the assurance that Clay is staying, that means the Sooners will get their three leading rushers back next season in Clay, Dominique Whaley and Roy Finch.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:26 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: Baylor will have to win this game the same way it does in every game it emerges victorious: by outscoring Oklahoma. This is a team that's ranked 108th in the country in scoring defense, after all, allowing 36 points per game. The good news for Baylor is that it has an offense more than capable of putting up points in a hurry. Of course, taking care of the ball while it has it would help a lot too. In the blowout loss to Oklahoma State the Bears turned the ball over 5 times, and last week against Kansas the Bears turned it over 4 times, forcing Robert Griffin to lead a 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter. The best way to limit turnovers will be to protect Griffin from an Oklahoma defensive line that can get to the quarterback, as it's second in the Big 12 with 34 sacks this season. If Griffin gets time, he can pick apart any secondary.
OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: It can overcome the injuries on offense. Normally I'd put Oklahoma's offense on par with Baylor's, but is that still the case now that the Sooners have lost Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles in the last two weeks? We can't know for sure because we haven't seen it play without those two yet. Which means that Landry Jones will have to adjust to life without his favorite target and security blanket. Remember, Landry Jones has never played a game as a Sooner in which he didn't have Broyles around to throw to. In the backfield, Roy Finch and Brennan Clay will have to step up to fill in for Whaley and give the Sooners balance on offense. On defense, the Oklahoma defense needs to pressure Griffin and understand that it's likely going to give up points. It just needs to make a few stops each half too. Something it has proven more than capable of doing all season.
X-FACTOR: Jaz Reynolds. Landry Jones is going to miss having Ryan Broyles around, and is going to need one of his receivers to step up and make some big plays. That player should be Jaz Reynolds, who has stepped up in a big way in Oklahoma's last three games. In that span Reynolds has caught 4 touchdowns, though he only has 215 yards. Against this Baylor secondary, with Jones forced to look his way more often, he could approach that yardage total in just one game.
Posted on: November 5, 2011 7:30 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 7:31 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
OKLAHOMA WON. The Sooners didn't do a whole lot for 45 of the 60 minutes in this contest, but what they did in those 15 minutes were more than enough. After windy condiitons kept either offense from doing much of anything in the first half, Oklahoma took a 13-10 lead at the break and quickly expanded it to 41-10. Landry Jones didn't have a great game, as he completed only 18 of his 38 passes for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it was enough. Roy Finch did a nice job replacing the injured Dominique Whaley, rushing for 99 yards and a touchdown. Then there was Blake Bell doing his Tim Tebow impression, as he came in for Jones occasionally and rushed for 37 yards and 2 touchdowns.
WHY OKLAHOMA WON. Well, it depends on your perspective I suppose. If you're a Texas A&M fan you may say it's because all the Aggies do is fall apart in the second half. If you're an Oklahoma fan, you'll probably say that it's because the Sooners really turn it on in the third quarter. The actual answer falls somewhere in between, but when you score 28 points in the third quarter -- or any quarter -- you're going to win the vast majority of those games. Oh, and having your opponent turn the ball over 4 times, as Texas A&M did, doesn't hurt either.
WHEN OKLAHOMA WON. After Oklahoma took a 20-10 lead early in the third quarter, Texas A&M was forced to punt into the wind after a three and out. That's when Ryan Epperson's punt got caught in the wind, landed and then bounced backward to result in a gain of 14 yards. Oklahoma would score again five plays later, and you could sense in its body language that Texas A&M had the whole "here we go again" feeling.
WHAT OKLAHOMA WON. It's still alive and in control of its own destiny in the Big 12. If the Sooners win out, and that includes a win over Oklahoma State to end the season, then it's the Big 12 champion. Of course, what Oklahoma won today may not be worth what they possibly lost, as Ryan Broyles left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury that did not look good.
WHAT TEXAS A&M LOST. Well, in a sense Texas A&M has won something with this loss. Along with Florida State it's definitely in the running for "Most Disappointing Team of 2011." Not that it's an award that Mike Sherman and the Aggies are looking to win, but take what you can get at this point.
Posted on: October 29, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 4:46 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Oklahoma is currently in a close game with Kansas State, but it's already suffered one big loss this afternoon. Running back Dominique Whaley, the Sooners leading rusher, suffered a broken ankle in the first quarter and the early report is that he'll miss the rest of the season.
Whaley had rushed for 627 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season coming into Saturday's game. Roy Finch, Brennan Clay and perhaps freshman Brandon Williams will have to pick up the slack for the Sooners offense.
Posted on: August 16, 2011 12:10 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are my choices for the Preseason All-Big 12 team.
Landry Jones, Junior, Oklahoma
This is the rather obvious choice, as while there are some good quarterbacks in the Big 12, there's only one who plays for the team many see as a favorite to win the national title, and one whose name comes up in the Heisman Trophy discussion. That would be Landry Jones, and he deserves the hype. In his first two seasons with the Sooners, Jones has thrown for 7,916 yards, 64 touchdowns and only 26 interceptions.
Also watch for: Though he didn't claim the starting job until half the season had passed, Ryan Tannehill was a big part of Texas A&M's strong finish in 2010. There's also the supremely talented Robert Griffin III at Baylor, and you can't forget about Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State.
Cyrus Gray, Senior, Texas A&M
While the Aggies deployed a two-headed monster at running back last season, Cyrus Gray was the most productive of the bunch. Gray rushed for 1,133 yards in 2010 and had 12 touchdowns. I wouldn't count on seeing Gray's production drop off at all as he enters his final season in College Station.
Roy Finch, Sophomore, Oklahoma
Finch didn't get a lot of playing time last season, but now that DeMarco Murray has moved on, the speedy back is going to see a lot of action this season, and in an offense as potent as Oklahoma's, that means we're likely to see some big numbers from the little man.
Also watch for: Christine Michael was part of Texas A&M's dynamic duo with Cyrus Gray last season, and he's going to have a big role in 2011 as well. There's also Eric Stephens at Texas Tech who could open some eyes with Tommy Tuberville implementing a more balanced attack and five returning starters on the offensive line. There's also Bryce Brown at Kansas State, and if Brown can live up to all the hype he had coming out of high school, then he may end up being the best back in the entire conference. Texas will be hoping that Malcolm Brown can be the feature back it's been looking for as well.
Justin Blackmon, Junior, Oklahoma State
It's going to be hard for Justin Blackmon to match his 2010 numbers in 2011, but the fact is that his production was so insane last year, that he won't have to. Take away 500 yards and 5 touchdowns from his total last year and Blackmon still finishes with 1,282 yards and 15 touchdowns. The craziest thing of all, however, is if he surpasses last year's numbers, nobody will be all that surprised either.
Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma
Broyles could have left for the NFL last year, but he decided to return for another season in Norman and Landry Jones couldn't be happier about it. Broyles is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard season with at least 14 touchdowns, and a third straight year with those numbers is likely on its way.
Also watch for: The Big 12 is not hurting for strong wide receivers. While Broyles and Blackmon will get the most attention, Kenny Stills and Josh Cooper are excellent second options for their respective squads. Then there's Kendall Wright at Baylor, Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller at Texas A&M, T.J. Moe at Missouri, and don't forget about Mike Davis at Texas.
Michael Egnew, Senior, Missouri
Egnew is listed as a tight end, but realistically, he plays more like a wide receiver. Egnew caught 90 passes for 762 yards last year with five touchdowns, and he should see plenty of balls coming his way again this year as James Franklin looks to fill Blaine Gabbert's shoes.
Also watch for: While wide receiver catch most of the balls in the Big 12, there are some solid tight ends. Keep an eye on Oklahoma's James Hanna, Nehemiah Nicks with Texas A&M and Tim Biere at Kansas.
Center Ben Habern, Junior, Oklahoma
After redshirting in 2008, Habern has started 24 games at center for the Sooners over the last two seasons. He led Oklahoma with 123 knockdowns in 2010, including 16 against Colorado and was an honorable mention on the All-Big 12 team last season.
Guard, Lonnie Edwards, Senior, Texas Tech
Edwards is a key part of the Texas Tech offensive line that returns every starter this season. He'll play an even larger role this season as Texas Tech will likely run more than we've seen in the past. The 6-foot-4 320 pounder has started 23 games in Lubbock and was an All-Big 12 second team selection in 2010.
Guard, Lane Taylor, Junior, Oklahoma State
Taylor is the most experience member of the Oklahoma State offensive line, as he was the only returning starter in 2010. He's made 24 consecutive starts for the Cowboys, and aside from keeping Brandon Weeden off his back, Taylor was an first team academic Big 12 selection as well.
Tackle, Levy Adcock, Senior, Oklahoma State
They don't come much bigger than Adcock, and the 6-foot-6 322-pound tackle used his size awfully well in 2010. Adcock was a first-team All-Big 12 selection by both the coaches and the AP last season (a unanimous selection by the AP) after winning the starting job in August last year and never letting it go.
Tackle, Kelechi Osemele, Senior, Iowa State
Oh wait, they do come bigger than Adcock. Osemele checks in at 6-foot-6 and 347 pounds. Osemele got his start playing both guard and tackle in 2008 but moved to left tackle full time in 2009 and hasn't moved since, starting 30 straight games. This will be a name you hear called early in the NFL draft next spring.
Also watch for: Offensive lineman may spend most of their time living in anonymity and working as a unit, but Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Oklahoma State's Grant Garner are a couple other names you should get familiar with. Missouri's Elvis Fisher definitely would have made the list if not for his season-ending knee injury.
DE Frank Alexander, Senior, Oklahoma
Alexander only started in nine games for the Sooners last season, but still managed to finish second on the team in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (7). In other words, he spends a lot of his time in backfields disrupting plays before they even get a chance to start.
DE Brad Madison, Junior, Missouri
Madison had a break out season in 2010 and proved to be one of the top playmakers on Missouri's defensive line. Madison ended the season leading the Tigers defense in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (11). He was named to the All-Big 12 second team for his efforts, and now that he'll be replacing Aldon Smith his name is one that many opposing quarterbacks will have drilled into their brains as they prepare to face Missouri.
DT Kheeston Randall, Senior, Texas
An anchor on the defensive line for the Longhorns, Randall was an honorable mention for the All-Big 12 last season. This year I believe he'll be moving up the ladder and having an even bigger impact. Randall finished second on the team with 13 tackles for loss in 2010, and also had a big impact on special teams, blocking two kicks.
DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, Senior, Texas A&M
In Texas A&M's 3-4 defense, Jerod-Eddie sees a lot of time at defensive end, but he's a defensive tackle in purpose. Think of Marcell Dareus at Alabama last season. While Jerod-Eddie doesn't spend a lot of time in the backfield blowing up plays, he uses his size and strength to stuff the run at the point of attack and allow Aggie linebackers to flow freely to the ball.
Also watch for: Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis only started the final four games for the Sooners last season, but he was incredibly productive in those four games. Starting all season could see him put up some ridiculous numbers. Jacqueis Smith of Missouri combines with Madison to give the Tigers a big push on the edges.
Jake Knott, Junior, Iowa State
There weren't many plays run against the Iowa State defense last season in which Jake Knott wasn't in on the tackle. He led the conference with 130 tackles last season and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection because of it. He'll be bringing that same nose for the football back to the Iowa State defense this season, and though he broke his arm in spring camp, he should be good to go when the season starts.
Garrick Williams, Senior, Texas A&M
Williams tallied 112 tackles in 2010, and now that Michael Hodges and Von Miller are no longer in College Station, he'll be playing an even larger role in 2011. I'm not sure Williams will be able to completely fill Von Miller's shoes in the Aggie defense, but he may end up being just as important to the defense as Miller was.
Keenan Robinson, Senior, Texas
Robinson was all over the place for the Longhorns in 2010. He finished the season with 113 tackles, 2 for a loss, and also had 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and a touchdown. Oh, and he's also a standout on special teams. He is literally all over the field on defense, and he's poised for another big season in 2011.
Also watch for: It was hard to pick just three linebackers in this conference, as there are plenty of other good options. Names like A.J. Klein (Iowa State), Arthur Brown (Kansas State), Caleb Lavey (Oklahoma State), Emmanuel Acho (Texas), Sean Porter (Texas A&M), Zaviar Gooden (Missouri) and Huldon Tharp (Kansas) are some of those options. Also, if it weren't for an injury that is going to keep him out for eight weeks, Oklahoma's Travis Lewis would have been an easy selection to the team. However, due to that injury, Lewis' replacement Corey Nelson is another name to watch out for.
CB Jamell Fleming, Senior, Oklahoma
Big 12 quarterbacks will test Jamell Fleming at their own risk in 2011. In his first full season as a starter last year Fleming had 5 interceptions, and proved himself quite the playmaker in the Oklahoma secondary. He's also not afraid to create some contact, tallying 71 tackles with 8.5 for a loss. He's a very good player in what may be the best secondary the Big 12 has.
CB Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M
Judie finished second in the Big 12 in interceptions last season behind Fleming with 4. He also broke up 4 passes and made 57 tackles for the Aggies. His impact is also felt on special teams, as he proved to be one of the most explosive kick returners in the conference last season, averaging over 30 yards a return with 2 touchdowns.
S Markelle Martin, Senior, Oklahoma State
This is not a man that wide receivers want to have a rendevous with over the middle of the football field, as Martin can bring the wood with the best of them. What makes Martin more dangerous, though, is that he improved his coverage skills in 2010 and picked off three passes. He's the type of safety that can separate you from the ball physically, or just take it away from you in the air.
S Tony Jefferson, Sophomore, Oklahoma
2010 may have been Jefferson's first season of college ball, but you couldn't tell by watching him play. The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year started 9 games for the Sooners in 2010 and finished the season with 65 tackles (7 for a loss) with 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and 7 passes broken up. I expect those numbers to improve in 2011 as this kid is only beginning to tap into his potential.
Also watch for: Oklahoma's Demontre Hurst could have been on my first team and given the Sooners secondary three of the four spots, but just because he didn't doesn't mean he's somebody quarterbacks should test too often. Keep your eyes on Blake Gideon (Texas), Trent Hunter (Texas A&M), Leonard Johnson (Iowa State) and Prince Kent (Baylor) too.
K Grant Ressel, Senior, Missouri
P Quinn Sharp, Junior, Oklahoma State
KR Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M
PR Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma
Tags: A.J. Klein, Aldon Smith, All-Big 12 Team, Arthur Brown, Baylor, Ben Habern, Big 12, Blaine Gabbert, Blake Gideon, Brad Madison, Brandon Weeden, Bryce Brown, Caleb Lavey, Christine Michael, Corey Nelson, Coryell Judie, Cyrus Gray, DeMarco Murray, Demontre Hurst, Elvis Fisher, Emmanuel Acho, Eric Stephens, Frank Alexander, Garrick Williams, Grant Garner, Grant Ressel, Huldon Tharp, Iowa State, Jacqueis Smith, Jake Knott, Jamell Fleming, James Franklin, James Hanna, Jeff Fuller, Josh Cooper, Justin Blackmon, Kansas, Kansas State, Keenan Robinson, Kelechi Osemele, Kendall Wright, Kenny Stills, Kheeston Randall, Landry Jones, Lane Taylor, Leonard Johnson, Levy Adcock, Lonnie Edwards, Luke Joeckel, Malcolm Brown, Marcell Dareus, Markelle Martin, Michael Egnew, Mike Davis, Missouri, Nehemiah Nicks, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Preseason All-Big 12 Team, Prince Kent, Quinn Sharp, Robert Griffin III, Ronnell Lewis, Roy Finch, Ryan Broyles, Ryan Swope, Ryan Tannehill, Sean Porter, T.J. Moe, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tim Biere, Tom Fornelli, Tommy Tuberville, Tony Jefferson, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Travis Lewis, Trent Hunter, Zaviar Gooden
Posted on: March 22, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:25 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Oklahoma , who started spring practice on Monday .
Spring Practice Question: Will Oklahoma replace DeMarco Murray with a committee of backs, or will one man emerge with the job?
There are going to be a lot of expectations on the Oklahoma Sooners heading into 2011. Though we're a long time away from the first preseason polls of the year, and we all know that preseason polls are utterly useless, a lot of folks seem to think that Oklahoma will begin the season as the top-ranked team in the country. Which makes sense.
The Sooners are coming off another Big 12 title and a win in the Fiesta Bowl, and they're also getting back two of the best offensive players in the country in quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles.
A nice duo for new co-offensive coordinators Josh Huepel and Jay Norvell to have at their disposal as the replace Kevin Wilson, who took the head coaching job at Indiana. What won't be so easy for them to do is find a replacement for running back DeMarco Murray.
In his four years with the Sooners, Murray produced 5,256 yards and 63 touchdowns rushing and receiving. That's not the kind of production you can just replace. So who will be the man to pick up where Murray left off?
Well, odds are that it won't be just one back doing so, but rather a committee. Roy Finch did a nice job backing Murray up in 2010 as a freshman, but also had to miss the Fiesta Bowl with a stress fracture. Considering he's only 5'8 and 180 pounds, durability has to be a concern for Finch. Odds are that he won't be able to carry the load by himself, which will open the door for one of Oklahoma's other backs.
Going in to camp Brennan Clay is listed at number one on the running back depth chart, but he only carried the ball 36 times for 127 yards as a freshman. There's also Jermie Calhoun, Jonathan Miller and Iowa transfer Brandon Wegher who could take some carries this season.
Williams, a 6'1 188-pound running back out of Royal High School in Brookshire, Texas, may have been the crown jewel of Oklahoma's 2011 recruiting class. He'll also get a chance to win the starting job this spring, which is why he enrolled early.
During his junior and senior seasons at Royal, Williams rushed for 4,253 yards and 47 touchdowns. He also caught 47 passes for 656 yards and 6 more touchdowns. That's some DeMarco Murray-like production right there.
Of course, there's a difference between the Big 12 and high school football, even in the state of Texas, so whether or not Williams is able to handle the job at Oklahoma remains to be seen. Especially when you consider that it's national title or bust in Norman.
Whether or not he'll be able to handle it we'll begin to learn this spring. So while there are plenty of things to keep an eye on with the Sooners this spring, I have a feeling that most eyes will be on Williams.