For the University of Oklahoma, scheduling has taken up roots of utmost importance as Joe Castiglione has made it a point to place top caliber opponents on the non-conference portion of the season. The move has paid off as the Oklahoma Sooners have found themselves consistently ranked inside the top ten once the initial rankings have come out. Coincidentally, the idea has helped to land a few star recruits while keeping Bob Stoops and his team in the national title conversation as well.
Truth of the matter is, on several occasions Oklahoma has failed to live up to the initial billing. Of course, there are several different options to choose from as to why the Sooners experienced a letdown of sorts. From injuries to a tough schedule, they are all there. Regardless, I am going to attempt to predict where our beloved Sooners will fall once the rankings come out during the final year of the BCS contract.
The Rushing Attack
It is hard to ignore the top rushers returning from last season in the duo of Damien Williams and Brennan Clay coming out of the backfield. Add to them guys like Alex Ross and Trey Millard and the Sooners have a very reliable and capable core of backs. When it comes down to it, Oklahoma will be tabbing a first year starter at quarterback and it may be time to slow things up a bit and put an emphasis on these guys.
The Big Uglies
On the offensive front, the Sooners will be losing a jack of all trades in Lane Johnson to the NFL. That leaves...well...a ton of experience along the offensive line. A quick glance at the roster shows not only depth but it also reveals that Oklahoma will most likely start all upper class-men barring any form of an injury as we approach August 31st.
The Air Raid
As of late, Jay Norvell has hit the jack pot on the recruiting trail. Sterling Shepard is a legacy and is making a name for himself around campus as a playmaker. He will most likely find himself in a starting role alongside Jalen Saunders. While that third spot is still up for grabs, there is plenty of talent to go around.
It is no secret that when the things take a turn for the worse, Josh Heupel decides to air it out. He will be returning 7-of-9 top receivers from last season (five with over 300 yards). If that is the decision this season as well, the Sooners will be set with a stable of route runners.
Question Mark At QB
No one is quite sure who will be making the initial start once the season officially gets under way. With that said, each quarterback candidate brings a unique style to the field. Blake Bell has proven he can run under game pressure but what we didn't know was if he could throw. He silenced many of his critics at Oklahoma's Spring Game but left the competition open to Kendal Thompson while Trevor Knight seems to be trailing the others.
Defensive Front 7
This may be the biggest knock against Oklahoma as they ranked 80th in the nation against the run. It is a weakness that manifested itself in the tackling numbers as four of the top tackle getters were all defensive backs from 2012. Looking elsewhere along the front seven another problem reveals itself. The Sooners will need to find a way to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks if they hope to be successful in the Big 12.
Inexperience In The Secondary
Aaron Colvin will be the heart and soul of this defense in 2013. Outside of what he brings to the table, we are not exactly sure what we will get as fans. There may be talent like Ahmad Thomas and Frank Shannon waiting to step up into starting roles but fact remains we are still not sure what this defense will look like. All there is to take away at this point is that experience is lacking.
The Way-Too-Early Ranking
The Oklahoma Sooners brand still demands respect and attention. There is a ton of potential waiting on the offensive side of the ball as that will be the strength of 2013. Without any further ado, I'm going to put Oklahoma at 17th in the Nation for my way-too-early prediction. The pieces are there but will they fall into place? That will be seen as the Sooners have a few early tough match ups.