Head Coach | Bob Stoops
Coaching Changes | Well believe it or not the Sooners are replacing an offensive coordinator. Seems this happens a lot. Kevin Wilson departed for Indiana where he has already landed the top quarterback in the country for 2012 in Gunner Kiel. Oklahoma promoted from within naming to "co"-o coordinators in Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell.
2010 Record | 12-2 (7-2) Big 12 Record
Returning Starters | The Sooners return 17 starters to their team from a year ago. That number includes 9 on the offensive side of the ball and 8 on the defensive side of the ball. Now that number does include the recently injured Travis Lewis who will now sit 8 weeks but all in all that's an impressive number of returning players for a team that went 12-2 a season ago.
Key Losses | Despite returning the majority of their talent the Sooners did have some pretty key losses from a year ago. DT Jeremey Beal and RB Demarco Murray might be the most notable and the two that had the opportunity to make the biggest impact on any given play, but the loss of both safeties in Quinton Carter and Johnathan Nelson means that Oklahoma will have some fresh faces in the defensive backfield.
Key Additions | It's no secret that Bob Stoops recruits a tremendous amount of talent to Norman and that talent has been given the opportunity to play at times at a very young age. Last year the Sooners had several true freshman seeing significant time and as long as your dealing with players that might be gone after three seasons, why not? Trey Metoyer is a wide receiver that seems to be the front runner to be this type of contribution this season. The 5* wideout checks in at 6'2" just over 200 pounds and possesses 4.4 speed. The other top rated recruit heading to Soonerville this year is running back Brandon Williams who is ranked 14th on a National level and 3rd at his position. The competition is pretty thick in the backfield however so Williams might have to wait his turn.
Impact Offensive Player | Pretty easy here to say Landry Jones or Ryan Broyles. The two were key pieces in the offense a year ago and with the departure of a proven Demarco Murray as a weapon out of the backfield these two will once again be looked to as leaders of the offense and a major component of any offensive gameplan.
Impact Defensive Player | Two days ago I would have said Travis Lewis. Today Lewis is listed as out for 8 weeks. That could include games against Florida State and Missouri. The bad news is that he should without question return for the game in Lawrence. Upon his return, a healthy Lewis is the impact player on the defensive side of the ball. In his absence that will rest on the shoulders of Tom Wort. Wort is a redshirt sophomore and will play the MLB position after having a solid season in 2010. With the injury to Lewis and the unexpected passing of Austin Box, he'll be called upon early and often.
There is a reason that Oklahoma is a preseason top pick by many. The offense returns almost everyone and they return some of the most critical skill positions on the field. In fact, outside of the running back spot, it's almost a mirror image of a year ago and the fall off in the backfield usually isn't that significant in a place like Norman.
Landry Jones enters his 3rd season under center after jumping into the role following a Sam Bradford injury in 2009. The Oklahoma offense ranked 3rd Nationally a year ago under his guidance while the ground game fell back quite a bit further at 83rd. The lesson here is that Murray's departure may or may not be a huge difference maker and in reality it's all relative to what you can bring in and what else you can put on the field.
Bob Stoops has the ball rolling in Norman without question. He recruits, he wins, he puts players in the pro's and he replaces them with new pro talent.
The Sooners face a few more challenges on the defensive side of the ball with four of their top five tacklers now departed if you include Lewis in that mix. That means that the Sooners have some youth in the defensive backfield, some youth at linebacker and some youth on the defensive front.
Oh wait...no it doesn't. Oklahoma will simply move players into position. The linebacker position will legitimately have some younger talent with redshirt sophomores factoring heavily into the mix, but replacing the two defensive tackles are a trio of junior defensive tackles. Replacing two starting safeties? Jr's, Sr's and a redshirt sophomore. Yes there is a chance that injury could catapult some very young talent toward the top, but as it stands today the reality is that Oklahoma is replacing experienced upperclassman starters with slightly less experienced upperclassman. There could be a dip, but all in all they should have solid contributors stepping into the key roles.
At the same time this wasn't a lights out defense a year ago ranking just 53rd nationally. The Big 12 hasn't been known as a defensive league for quite a few years now, but Oklahoma has typically been far enough ahead of the curve to do well. To their credit they were ranked significantly higher in terms of scoring defense so while teams were able to move the ball they weren't always able to punch it in. It will be interesting to see how the identity of this years defense develops based on the losses and changes during the offseason.