Oklahoma football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Sooners, best players and season prediction.
What You Need To Know About The Oklahoma Offense
It all worked.
The Sooners sped things up, found the right quarterback to do everything the attack needed, and the results were tremendous finishing fourth in the nation in scoring and seventh in total offense. Baker Mayfield returns for his senior year after getting into the Heisman mix and on the way to becoming the Big 12 Player of the Year. He’s terrific, but the backup situation is a bit iffy. Considering the hits Mayfield takes, keeping him in one piece is the biggest key to the season.
The running back situation is as good as any in college football with Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon a devastating duo who can each carry the load, especially considering the line should be a plus with a little bit of seasoning. This group can blast away.
The receiving corps is just good enough to be fine without Sterling Shepard, but Dede Westbrook needs to become a No. 1 target, and Penn State transfer Geno Lewis has to be outstanding.
Biggest Key To The Oklahoma Offense
Keeping Baker Mayfield in one piece. Trevor Knight would’ve been the ideal backup for the way the Sooner offense works, but he’s slinging it for Texas A&M now and OU can’t get back to the College Football Playoff without Mayfield being Mayfield again. Austin Kendall is a good-looking prospect who fits, but he’s just a true freshman. He could be fine to handle the work for a little bit, but not for a long stretch of key games.
What You Need To Know About The Oklahoma Defense
Considering how amazing most Big 12 offenses are, to finish the season ninth in the nation in pass efficiency defense and 39th in total D was terrific. There are just enough good pieces back to be outstanding again starting with the defensive front that needs Ogbinnia Okoronkwo on the outside and Charles Walker on the inside to be dominant. There’s depth, size, and talent – this will be one of the Big 12’s best front fours, or threes, depending on the alignment.
The secondary has its normal all-star prospects with Steven Parker one of the league’s best safeties, and Jordan Thomas a stopper on the outside. If the pass rush helps out – and it will – this will be a killer group that’ll be the difference-maker in the Big 12. It’ll be good enough to hold the high-powered attacks in check.
Losing Dominique Alexander from the linebacking corps hurts, but Jordan Evans is back along with a slew of young, athletic, very good options to fill in the gaps.
Biggest Key To The Oklahoma Defense
The run defense has to always work. The secondary held up just well enough time and again in shootouts, but it’s no coincidence that the two losses came on the two worst days against the run. Clemson wore down the Sooners in the Orange Bowl, cranking up 312 yards and three scores, and Texas shocked the Sooners with 313 yards and a score. Those were the only two games allowing 300 yards or more and they were the only two times allowing five yards per carry or more. By comparison, the 2014 defense didn’t allow more than 160 yards in any game.
Oklahoma Will Be Far Better If …
It avoids the key out-of-character loss. The Sooners were able to overcome the gaffe against a mediocre Texas team, but if Notre Dame had beaten Stanford – the Fighting Irish destroyed the Longhorns – the College Football Playoff probably would’ve left out the Big 12. There was the collapse against Oklahoma State to end the 2014 regular season, there was the loss to the okay Longhorns in 2013 and the gack to a bad Texas Tech in 2011. Even with Houston and Ohio State to deal with, the overall schedule works for OU with almost all the big games at home. There can’t be another loss to Texas, or a braincramp at Iowa State, or a late-season misstep at West Virginia. Basically, Oklahoma has to win the games it’s supposed to.
Best Oklahoma Offensive Player
RB Samaje Perine, Jr. – Yeah, okay, the reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year might be under center, but Baker Mayfield is a very, very good player in a very, very favorable system. Perine is a very, very good player in any system. Mayfield is, of course, the team’s most valuable player, and Joe Mixon could certainly take on a bulk of the rushing workload if needed, but Perine is a special back, even for Oklahoma. With his blend of power, size, and toughness, he provides the base for everything else to work around. The rest of the offense is able to do all its high-flying, sped up fun stuff partly because everyone knows that Perine is there in a pinch.
Best Oklahoma Defensive Player
LB Jordan Evans, Sr. – While he’s not the flashiest of Oklahoma defenders, he’s a tone-setter tough guy who grinds it out against the good running games. In the high-flying Big 12 the Sooners need the pass rush to shine, and the corners are always going to be in the spotlight, but Evans is the one who eats everything up against the run, able to handle it all when things are funneled his way.
Key Player To A Successful Season
DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Jr. – The Sooner pass rush was okay last season, but it wasn’t dominant with 39 sacks. However, the two leading sackers – Eric Striker and Charles Tapper – are gone, along with the three sacks from Devante Boyd. OU needs a new hybrid playmaker on the outside, and that means the 6-2, 236-pound Okoronkwo has to become the Von Miller type who wreaks havoc behind the line. It’s all there to be sensational, but he only came up with one sack and eight tackles last season.
The Oklahoma Season Will Be A Success If …
There’s another trip to the College Football Playoff. There might be several key holes to fill on defense, but the offense should be as good or even better and the schedule is way too favorable to not be in the hunt for another post-season tournament spot. It’ll take wins over Houston and Ohio State – or else split those two games and run the rest of the table – but with a week off before going to TCU, and with Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State at home, a team good enough to play for the national title should roll to 11-1 with this slate.
Oct. 1 at TCU – How will the Sooners look after facing Houston and Ohio State in September? There’s a week to rest up after the home date with the Buckeyes, and OU will need it before starting out the Big 12 slate at TCU in a run of three games away from home – Texas and Texas Tech the other two – in the first four games. Beating Texas this time around is a must, and Baylor might be the Big 12 Game of the Year, but a loss to the Horned Frogs to kickoff October would be devastating, and would all but end any CFP dreams if the Sooners don’t get through September unscathed.
2015 Oklahoma Fun Stats
– First Quarter Scoring: Oklahoma 132 – Opponents 59
– Fourth Down Conversions: Oklahoma 9-of-17 – Opponents 6-of-14 (43%)
– Average Yards Per Pass: Oklahoma 9.1 – Opponents 6.0
2016 Oklahoma Season Prediction
What’s going to happen to Oklahoma this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …