Oklahoma Sooners Football | What's Left In The Cupboard For 2014

Kevin C. Cox

The roller coaster season that was 2013 OU Football has officially come to a close and fans are now faced with the atrociously long off-season. What makes the time off so dreadful is the spectacular way that Oklahoma ended the season. I'm pretty sure that a ton of Sooner fans would have lost their shirts had you offered to make a bet with them after they Baylor game that they'd end the season by beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

It wasn't just the losses to Texas and Baylor that rained on the crimson and cream parade, it was games like Kansas where the Sooners struggled against one of the worst teams in the conference. However, Bob Stoops' young team grew up in a hurry by pulling off electrifying wins over Oklahoma State and Alabama in their last two games.

Its the youth movement that will have fans sitting on pins and needles until August. While the Sugar Bowl brought about a close to the careers of guys like Brennan Clay and Aaron Colvin (what a way to go out though), it also fully ushered in a new era of Oklahoma football with guys like Trevor Knight and Eric Striker.

Logic says that a look at the offensive and defensive starting lineups for the Sugar Bowl tells us that this team will have a load of proven talent on the field for the next several seasons.

Sugar Bowl Starting Offense

(WR)

Lacolton Bester

(LT)

Daryl Williams

(LG)

Dionte Savage

(C)

Gabe Ikard

(RG)

Nila Kasitati

(RT)

Bronson Irwin

(WR)

Sterling Shepard

(QB)

Trevor Knight

(WR)

Jalen Saunders

(RB)

Brennan Clay

(FB)

Aaron Ripkowski

Six of the guys who started on offense will be back next season and only three of those will be seniors. The offensive line loses its leader in Gabe Ikard, along with Bronson Irwin, but waiting in the wings are Ty Darlington and Derek Farniok, among some other talented youngsters, who are comping at the bit to make their mark on the field.

It can't be emphasized enough how much of a team player Brennan Clay was and how much he'll be missed. However, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't excited about seeing Keith Ford take on a bigger role in the offense. That's not to mention Alex Ross or incoming freshman Joe Mixon as well.

If there's one group of players that you really shouldn't have to worry about its the receivers. Jalen Saunders has been spectacular and I think that Lacolton Bester was just reaching his full potential but there's little doubt that Sterling Shepard becomes the next go to guy who can make big plays from multiple spots on the field. Couple that with guys like Durron Neal, Derrick Woods and even K.J. Young, spring ball can't get here quick enough to give us a look at the next crop of talented receivers.

Freshman Trevor Knight was the star of the sugar Bowl and you can't help but wonder how bright his future is. He will have to take some significant steps backwards to not be the starter when Oklahoma opens up against Louisiana Tech on August 30th. Much like Bester, I think we just got a glimpse of Knight's true potential in the Sugar Bowl.

Sugar Bowl Starting Defense

(CB)

Aaron Colvin

(DE)

Chuka Ndlule

(DT)

Jordan Wade

(DE)

Charles Tapper

(DE)

P.L. Lindley

(CB)

Zack Sanchez

(LB)

Doninique Alexander

(LB)

Frank Shannon

(LB)

Eric Striker

(FS)

Gabe Lynn

(SS)

Quentin Hayes

The defense is in even better shape with 9 starters from the Sugar Bowl returning next season. The Sooners have to find a suitable replacement for Aaron Colvin and mixed reviews are in on Cortez Johnson, Stanvon Taylor and Dakota Austin. However, Mike Stoops showed that he's somewhat of a miracle worker by bringing Zack Sanchez out of nowhere.

Gabe Lynn finally found a home at free safety and I really wish we had more time to see him grow at that position. However, he's gone and Hatari Byrd appears to be the next guy up.

As excited as we are about the potential of linebackers Dominique Alexander and Eric Striker growing and improving over the next few seasons, let's not forget that Oklahoma closed out the season with strong defensive performances against Oklahoma State and Alabama without defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Yes, this defense should be even better next season!

There's no doubt about it. Oklahoma finished the season on an upswing and with a lot of momentum. For the first time in a while we saw them hungry and with something to prove. If you're keeping count, that's 15 of the 22 starters from the Sugar Bowl who are coming back in 2014. You just can't help but think that the momentum from the end of the season will carry over into next fall. The cupboard is stocked full and it's stocked full of talent!

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