Oklahoma comes in as the favorite to win the Big XII in most of the nation's books with good reason. We can start with who Oklahoma is returning in Landry Jones who is a shoo in for the Heisman Candidacy. Jones will be counted on to produce numbers that are off the charts and he has the talent around him to do so assuming he doesn't go all Happy Feet again. Ryan Broyles is going to be the main target once again and who can blame Jones for naming Broyles as his favorite target when the kid catches everything thrown his way while adding the wow factor to each and every highlight. Then there is the long anticipated Roy Finch who should be 100% by the time fall rolls around, a level we have never seen him play at yet! Combine the balance and shiftiness of Finch to the power and ease style of who Brandon Williams will become and this could be the best tandem in the nation. All these offensive weapons are at the disposal of Jones and this could be a record setting offense.
Flip over to the defense and we have the most talent LB's the conference will see all year with Travis Lewis anchoring and directing traffic. The run defense should be impressive with Tom Wort in the middle and QB's will have little time to work through a progression with Ronnell Lewis running down their throats. There is so much more as to why Oklahoma is easily the favorite to not only win the conference and remain the only team unbeaten in the Big XII but also why OU is eying the prize in NOLA. However, there are a few things that could easily derail this train in a hurry.1) The Secondary Is Unproven And Will Be Challenged Often And Early. CCMachine did an excellent job in describing concerns with the secondary here. He had this to say:
Aaron Colvin at strong safety - With the status of Jamell Fleming still uncertain it just makes sense to keep Colvin at cornerback. He played the position all last season and even started the Texas game. That's why the switch to safety made us scratch our heads just a bit but his performance in the spring may have alleviated any uncertainty that was there among the fanbase. Its a risky move that, if it pays off, could solidify Oklahoma's secondary. However, the other part of this story is either Fleming coming back or Gabe Lynn having a solid season as the new starter at corner. That makes this move a double risk.
On top of that, with the graduation of Jonathan Nelson and Quinton Carter, not only is Colvin being shifted but he will be joined by Javon Harris. While both showed well in the spring, they still lack experience at the position period. This will be like feeding the sharks as the Big XII is a pass happy conference with some of the best arms and receivers in the game. These two will have a steep learning curve to get over in a hurry.
2) Lots Of Concern Over Last Years Road Woes. Oklahoma has been the top dog at home for the past decade and almost always brings out their "A Game" for a home crowd. That is something that is lost in translation when traveling on the road. While the RRS will most likely not be the decider of the conference champion like it has been in years past, there are a few games on the radar that could be. Oklahoma will travel to Oklahoma State in what will for sure be one for the ages. Oklahoma is going to have a large target on their backs and is going to have to bring their "A Game" week in and week out if they want a chance to come out unscathed.
3) Special Teams Have Been In A Downward Slide. While OU possess one of the best punters in the nation in Tress Way, coverage was lacking and nearly cost Oklahoma a few games. OU gave up returns for touchdowns against Cincinnati, Missouri, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State last year. These touchdowns either kept the game a live or put it out of reach in every game except the Cincinnati game. Something has got to improve... maybe hiring a special teams coordinator would help, but what do I know about football anyway? Aside from that, I closed my eyes every time little Jimmy Stevens took the field and leaving the room anytime Patrick O'Hara took the field. Place kicking was atrocious at best with OU shying away from anything near the 40 yard mark. Stevens was solid going 19-23 but the Sooners need a sure fire from the 40+ range. Michael Hunnicut seems to be up to the challenge and will hopefully be the answer to our prayers.