Looking For A Weak Link In Next Season’s Offense

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Shockingly Bradford and Williams (along with Gresham and Gerald McCoy) were among Oklahoma’s biggest recruits in 2008.

Oklahoma couldn’t have received any better news than when Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham and Trent Williams announced that they were returning in 2009. That announcement alone put the Sooners back into the national title hunt for next season. With 9 of 11 starters returning on what should be a very stout defense OU now has a talented and experienced nucleus on offense. However, what the Sooners don’t have returning on offense are Brandon Braxton, Quentin Chaney, Jon Cooper, Phil Loadholt, Juaquin Iglesias, Manny Johnson or Duke Robinson. That is a huge chunk of personnel missing from Oklahoma’s record setting offense but the cupboard may not be as bare as we think it is.

 

What Oklahoma Has Returning In `09

 

Quarterback – A Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback is a great cornerstone for Kevin Wilson to build the 2009 offense on. Sam Bradford set records his first two seasons as the signal caller for Oklahoma and if year three is going to be anything similar then he’s going to need the next era of receivers to develop very quickly.  

 

Running Back – The stable is full and talented! Word on the street is that Jermie Calhoun was more than impressive in post season practices leading up to the BCS Championship Game. If that trend continues into the spring and then on to the fall it is going to be next to impossible to keep him off the field in 2009. With Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray returning to Oklahoma’s backfield keeping fresh and talented legs on the field won’t be an issue. This is a situation where three’s company but four is a crowd so the big elephant in the room is what do we do with Mossis Madu?

 

Replacing `08 Stars

 

Receivers – Ryan Broyles is now Oklahoma’s most experienced receiver which makes the return of Gresham all the more valuable because it gives Bradford two legitimate targets to go along with a talented group of running backs. Here’s where the answer to the Madu question pops up in my mind. Why not move him to the slot position? At 6-0, 196 he’s got the perfect size for a slot receiver.

 

Jameel Owens and Dejuan Miller will have to step up to be the guys on the outside. At 6-3 and 6-5 respectively they each have the size to be the prototypical wide out but experience is going to be the key factor. Miller caught 2 passes in `08 for 14 yards while Owens hauled in 4 passes for 44 yards.

 

Other guys that are going to get a look are going to be junior Brandon Caleb (6-2, 196 – 4 receptions for 52 yards in `08), senior Adron Tennell (6-4, 191 – 9 receptions for 68 yards in `08), sophomore Corey Wilson (6-1, 182) and incoming freshman Jaz Reynolds (6-2, 182).

 

Offensive Line – Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Without an effective offensive line the Sooner offense will lose a lot of punch in `09. Trent Williams will be the anchor to Oklahoma’s offensive line next season. He’ll be the senior starter and the most experienced player up front for the Sooners.

 

The general perception is that beyond Williams Oklahoma has no one else on the line which will result in certain disaster for Sam Bradford next season. However a scroll through the roster should bring a sense of encouragement once you realize who is waiting their turn to play.

 

Cory Brandon (Jr. 6-7/308) – Received significant playing time in both `07 and `08 and should be a frontrunner for a starting position in `09 with two years of eligibility left.

 

Stephen Good (So. 6-5/305) – Was a five star recruit coming into Oklahoma from Paris, Texas and received playing time as a true freshman in 2008.

 

Ben Habern (So. 6-4/275) – Was ranked as the #2 center in the nation coming out of Liberty Christian High in Argyle, Texas. Should be the frontrunner for the starting center position.

 

Jarvis Jones (Jr. 6-7/294) – As a freshman Jones played in seven games for LSU’s 2007 BCS championship team.

 

Brian Simmons (Sr. 6-5/304) – Played in all 14 games in 2007 (starting two) and saw significant playing time in 2008. Also a frontrunner to earn a starting spot.

 

Jeff Vinson (Incoming J.C. Transfer, 6-6/348) – Certainly Oklahoma’s largest offensive lineman Vinson has a chance to be a player in the mold of Duke Robinson or Phil Loadholt.

 

The tools are in place for Oklahoma to make another run in 2009 but the margin for error is going to be very slim. The Sooners will open the season against a ranked BYU team at the new Texas Stadium and then travel to Miami to play a fringe Top 25 Hurricanes team before finally opening up at home against an explosive Tulsa team.  

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