Football

2018 Preseason Preview: Oklahoma Sooners

It’s the Sooners.

With the season around the corner, we’re having to double-up on preseason previews. Oklahoma today and Texas on Friday.

1. Quick Facts

TEAM: Oklahoma
MASCOT: Sooners
2017 RECORD: 12-2 (9-1)
HEAD COACH: Lincoln Riley
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Cale Gundy and Bill Bedenbaugh
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Mike Stoops
STARTERS LOST: Offense 5; Defense 6
STARTERS RETURNING: Offense 6; Defense 5
LOCATION: Jones AT&T Stadium; Lubbock, Texas
GAME ON TEXAS TECH’S SCHEDULE: Ninth game on November 3rd

2. Difference Makers

RB Rodney Anderson (6-2/218): As a sophomore, Anderson ran for 1,161 yards on 188 carries, for 6.2 yards per carry, and 13 touchdowns. Anderson is the heir apparent, with now sophomore Trey Sermon waiting in the wings (6-2/222), he was really good as well, rushing for 744 yards on 121 carries and 5 touchdowns. The Sooners have options.

WR CeeDee Lamb (6-1/173): As a true freshman last year, Lamb caught 46 passes for 814 yards and 7 touchdowns. Lamb, along with Marquise Brown (5-11/162) returns a really effective duo as Brown caught 57 passes for 1,088 yards and 7 touchdowns, but these are really the only two main receivers returning from last year.

LB Kenneth Murray (6-2/242): As a freshman, Murray had 59 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 1 sack, with 11 run stuffs and 1 forced fumble. A lot of talent graduated last year, so Murray is really one of the leaders of the defense.

CB Parnell Motley (6-0/175): Motley had 56 tackles last year, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 3 run stuffs, 2 interceptions and 9 pass break-ups.

3. Coaches Corner

A couple of interesting notes here for the coaches. I had no idea that Cale Gundy and Bill Bedenbaugh were listed as co-offensive coordinators. Maybe they got that title after Riley was promoted last year, which would seem logical. Riley is the defacto offensive coordinator and calling all plays. Added to the offensive staff is Shane Beamer, son of former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. I think that Shane was a coach that was really well thought of at Virginia Tech, and he’s listed as the assistant head coach and coach for the tight ends and H-Backs.

On the defensive side of the ball, I’m sorta shocked that Mike Stoops is still the defensive coordinator (see the numbers below), while Ruffin McNeill is an “assistant head coach” much like Beamer, while Kerry Cooks is the assistant defensive coordinator. Bob Diaco was added as a defensive analyst. Diaco was the head coach at Connecticut from 2013 through 2016 and was 11-26 as a head coach. He spent last year as the defensive coordinator at Nebraska and that was sort of disastrous as well. Diaco is not a good football coach and Riley just hired him. Obviously, he won’t have a huge impact on the team as a defensive analyst, but he’s shown to be an incompetent head coach and a disaster as a defensive coordinator last year.

4. Advanced Stats

One of the best ever offenses I would guess, while the defense lags pretty far behind. I know that OU has recruited much better and maybe that shows up this year, but I’m still surprised that the Sooners didn’t find a different defensive coordinator. It’s not for a lack of resources.

Offense Defense
S&P+ 1st 101st
Efficiency 1st 60th
Explosiveness 2nd 117th
Field Position 114th 69th
Finishing Drives 7th 104th

5. Game Thoughts

So the interesting thing for me is we’re about to see how good the Oklahoma offense actually is versus how good Baker Mayfield was. I know that a lot of you won’t like me writing this, but Mayfield was insanely good last year and this is sort of a chicken or the egg argument, was it Riley and his play-calling or was it Mayfield and his ability to find open receivers or throw open receivers? It could be a little bit of both, but I remember when Johnny Manziel (this is not a comparison of Manziel and Mayfield) was about to be drafted and Mike Evans was about to be drafted as well. There’s no doubt in my mind looking back¬† that Mike Evans made Manziel great, and you wonder if Mayfield had the same effect that Evans did in the sense that he made the offense great, or darn near unstoppable.

I think the offense will come back down to earth, but I’m not sure how much. Kyler Murrey will add a different dynamic to the offense, but I just can’t see how he’d be able to pass the way that Mayfield did. Anderson will most likely be dynamic as a running back and that will help significantly.

The defense could be better, but they graduated a bunch of talent, but at some point, Oklahoma will just reload rather than worry about if someone is better than the guy they are replacing. Oklahoma has been on a tear recruiting and at some point, that’s going to take effect. I don’t know if it’s this year but I tend to think that Mike Stoops is going to get replaced at some point. Riley’s retention of Stoops and hiring of Diaco are head-scratchers on the defensive side of the ball and you wonder the reason why he made those moves.

Disclaimer: To any Oklahoma fans, I’m not an Oklahoma expert, just trying to learn and educate myself as much as I can over the course of writing this post.

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