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2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #2 Oklahoma

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 25, 2016

#2 Oklahoma Sooners

2015 Recap:
It took a few years but Oklahoma finally put it all together and wound up not onl;y winning the Big 12 but qualifying for the BCS Playoffs. Yes they lost their semifinal match against Clemson but the game was closer then the 37-17 result would indicate. The only other loss for Oklahoma was The Red River rivalry game with Texas where the Longhorns upset the Sooners.


Coaching:
Bob Stoops has been in the upper coaching echelon for some time and its hard to believe he has lked the Sooners for 17 seasons and registered 179 victories. Stoops is a Championship coach who still seems like he reaches his players and can get the best out of them. Lincoln Riley leads the offense while brother Mike leads the defense.


Offense

Baker Mayfield was one of the most pleasant at the FBS last season. Mayfield sat out a year after his transfer from Texas Tech. Mayfield now enters his senior season as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate after throwing for 3,700 yards with an impressive 36/7 TD-to-INT ratio to go along with 405 rushing yards and  7 rushing touchdowns. The biggest obstacle for Mayfield making a serious Heisman push may be his own teammate, running back Samaje Perine. Perine piled up 1,349 yards with 16 touchdowns on the ground and the depth behind him is amazing. Joe Mixon and Alex Ross will both spell Perine in the backfield and take turns with returns on special teams where they are equally as dangerous. Things are easier running behind one of the largest lines in college football and one that is talented despite returning only three starters from last season. Orlando Brown is only a sophomore but he is draft eligible and the 350-pounder looks like a future 1st round pick. Dru Samia and Jonathan Alvarez are back and all are underclassmen. Dede Westbrook was a great #2 receiver a year ago and now becomes the top target after the graduation of Sterling Shepherd. Mark Andrews and Miciah Quick will be the other starters at wideout.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Samaje Perine RB 1st Round 2017 (Early Declaration).

                                       Orlando Brown OT 1st Round 2018 (Early Declaration).


Defense

Many of the top playmakers from 2015 either graduated or left early for the NFL Draft. The Sooners still have plenty of talent in their 3-4 front where Charles Walker has emerged as a non-stop motor guy. Walker had 6 sacks in a part-time role last year and will be joined along the line by Matt Romar and Matt Dimon. When not running the 3-4 look for Oklahoma to follow the lead of many other Big 12 teams and employ three linebackers with five defensive backs.  Jordan Evans will play inside and comes back to the team after registering 83 tackles last year. Evans will be making a lot of plays at linebacker, if not Senior Jordan then sophomore Tay (Evans) will be there to wrap them up. The outside linebacker spots are still up in the air with no definititve starters having been announced. Jordan Thomas, Ahmad Thomas and Steven Parker are three of the most talented secondart playmakers in the conference. Oklahoma ranked #1 in the Big 12 last season defending the pass and are liekly to repeat in that category.

Best Draft Prospects: Steven Parker S 3rd Round 2018.

                                      Charles Walker DT 1st Round 2018.


Special Teams:

Austin Seibert will handle the kickoffs and punting duties once again and while he didn't  light the world on fire he was fairly consistent and dependable. The return game is what has set Oklahoma apart in the last few seasons. Oklahoma has been so stacked at the running back spot that usually the players #2-4 on the depth chart just handle kicks and they excel. Alex Ross and Joe Mixon will be the primary return men for the Sooners, expect a few returns to come back for scores.


Schedule:

Oklahoma will not just back into their Big 12 schedule like some other teams in the conference as they face Houston to open the season. Oklahoma has a home game in week 3 with another non-conference powerhouse as Ohio State comes to town.  Immediately after playing the Buckeyes the conference schedule starts with TCU on the road. Oklahoma State and Baylor come near the back of the schedule and both are home games.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

Oklahoma makes us nervous because they seem to perfgorm better when expectations are lighter. There have been countless seasons where Oklahoma has high expectations or try to build off a successful campaign and they fall flat. That should not be the case with a pair of Heisman candidates leading the offense and a defense that is very deep. Oklahoma is chruning out stronger NFL prospects and we will see more Sooners going in the 2018 and 2019 draft classes.

DJ Boyer