Originally, this was something I saw in my head as two individual pieces with one focusing on the offense and one on the defense. Splitting it up by position I think may lose some of what I am trying to do with these, but it will also save you all from having to read multiple 5,000 word manifestos. So don't say I never did anything for you ;)
What we're going to try to do is approach these from a depth chart perspective looking towards next season. Obviously we'll talk about who we see in the two deep, but we'll also look at those players behind them who could also play a role. So as we get this series started, why not start with what is sure to be the most talked about position. The conversation clearly has to start with whether or not Landry Jones decides to come back for his senior season. While there is plenty of speculation out there as to what the decision might be, at this point we don't know anything that can be relied on as accurate. So for the purposes of what we're trying to do here, we'll have to examine both possibilities.
Assuming Landry comes back . . .
Starter: Landry Jones Backup: Blake Bell
Pretty much a no-brainer here. I know this scenario wouldn't make a lot of OU fans happy as many seem ready for Jones to move on. While I can definitely see where that camp is coming from, I guess I kind of feel like it comes down to what you're expecting from this team next year. If you want that might, and I stress might, have a chance for #8 then I'm not sure how you could want Landry to go. If you think Landry has reached his ceiling in terms of what he's capable of accomplishing here and think another year is just delaying the inevitable then I can understand that as well.
Personally, I'm kind of in between both those. I always want an OU team to win every single game that they can, but I am of the opinion that we've seen what Landry can do and while very good (at times) I don't believe he can get us that crystal football. So for that reason, a part of me is ready to just move on and wants to see if there is someone else on this roster who can be that guy. I also think Jones coming back is pretty detrimental to the development of Blake Bell, which could be a more substantial negative in the long run that the positive of one more season with Landry. We already know Stoops doesn't play his backup QB and with Landry back for his final season it only stands to reason the backup QB would see even less time. Yeah sure, they have the Bell-dozer but that's not a formation that is helping him develop as a passer. Which I'm sure we can all agree is absolutely monumental if he's ever going to be the guy to lead this offense. I could be wrong, but I just feel if Landry did decide to come back that Bell gets about the same amount of playing time he saw this year and to me that's a complete waste of a season for him.
Maybe of a lesser note depending on your feelings for him as a player, but if Landry were to come back I really think that could be the end of Drew Allen in the crimson and cream. I think he'd have a difficult decision to make with respect to his future and if he wanted to go somewhere that he'd have a better chance to play.
I'm not sure it's reason enough alone to want Jones to declare for the NFL, but the delay Jones coming back puts on Bell's development is certainly an argument I can understand.
Assuming Landry goes pro . . .
Starter: Drew Allen Backup: Blake Bell
Didn't expect to see that one did you? Would be interested to know if this scenario would make you more upset than Landy coming back?
I know Bell is the people's choice and would absolutely be my preference in spite of what I think would be some significant growing pains, but I'm not convinced that Stoops and Josh Heupel would be ready to hand over the keys of the offense to Bell. I think they're comfortable with Allen and what he brings to the table. Obviously things could change, say if Allen gets the feel that he won't win the job in the spring and decides to transfer then clearly Bell is the man. What I think would happen under this premise is they are both given equal chance to win the job in the spring/summer. I just kind of have a feeling that Allen would prove the more reliable guy and what I believe we know about these coaches leads me to believe he would be their choice for that reason. I don't think they like the idea of taking chances at QB and would prefer a guy they know they can trust even if he isn't necessarily the more talented player.
The Reserves . . .
Kendal Thompson would be coming off a redshirt year with a true full year in the system having enrolled early last spring. He's a mobile guy like Bell, even more so actually, and he's also a lefty which could throw some teams off if they designed some specific packages to take advantage of his athleticism.
Trevor Knight is the current 2012 QB commit for OU and is very much in the mold of Bell and Thompson. He would almost be guaranteed a redshirt, but is one of the top QBs out of the state of Texas this year and while raw has a bunch of potential.
Wrapping things up, I think things can be summarized like this.
With Landry - I think we know exactly what we get and while I know what I think, I'll leave it up to you to determine whether or not you think that is a good or bad thing. I think with what everyone else in this conference has coming back, it's fair to say OU is the favorite to win the league again.
Without Landry - Maybe a less dangerous pass game, but also possibly makes the coaches focus more on the run game which I don't think would be a bad thing. Even without Jones is it crazy to think we'd still be the favorites to win the Big 12? I mean who else would it be? Maybe TCU? Not Texas, not OSU. So maybe we lose a couple games, still win the conference, don't play for a national title, but get a jump start on the Blake Bell tenure. Actually, I think I'd be cool with that.
What about you?