my fault that it has been a little while since we've done a roundtable here at Crimson And Cream Machine but we're back with five topics to discuss in rapid fire format. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments section.
1. Looking back on Oklahoma's 2012 football recruiting class which player or players stand out and draw the most excitement from you?
jte - Wow, so many to choose from in my opinion. Is it Trey Metoyer for finally making it to campus? The late signing JUCO guys who all look like future NFL players? The "other" Missouri h.s. wide receiver Durron Neal. Or local products Alex Ross and Sterling Shepard? If I had to narrow it down to guys I'm most excited about for this coming year, I think I'd have to take (1) Courtney Gardner, (2) Trey Metoyer, and (3) Damien Williams. I think all three will be impact players for OU next year. I can already envision Gardner & Metoyer, along with incumbent starter Kenny Stills, absolutely terrorizing a still young Texas secondary in Dallas next year. With what we all hope will be a more balanced offense next year, Williams could be a real force behind what looks to be a stout OU offensive line.
If we're going a couple years down the road I'll take (1)Alex Ross, (2) Durron Neal, and (3) Gary Simon (though I also really want to include Sterling Shepard and Ty Darlington, but I've also named just about our entire class so I'll resist the urge). Ross has the look of a back that could be really, really special. He has a size/speed combo that you just don't see very often, but still has plenty of learn about playing the position. Neal is just an absolutely dynamic playmaker who can do special things with the ball in his hands. Simon, assuming he can make it to campus (grade risk), could be future Thorpe Award winner IMO.
O^3 - It is certainly Trey Metoyer for me. Metoyer was a kid we expected to see on campus for this past season and who we all thought would have an immediate impact. With the turnover as well as the departure of star WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma will be looking for a new #1. Originally I had thought that Kenny Stills would step into that spotlight and become the new safety blanket for Landry Jones. But, due to injury he was never the same player he was while Broyles was on the field. It is going to take some learning how to deal with double and other coverages for him to finally take that role on.
Metoyer on the other hand could come in and be a Sammy Watkins caliber player from the get go. He most definitely has the skills and in this pass happy system, anything could happen. Yes there are a few others that come in a close second for me behind Metoyer but it has been a long time coming for this kid.
CCM - I think it has to be Metoyer. He's the most anticipated recruit in a long time at Oklahoma and with the saga that it took to get him here I'm not sure how anyone couldn't be extremely excited about him being on campus. Oklahoma's receiving corps was decimated by injuries and, to be blunt, lack of ability in 2011. Metoyer is supposed to be a huge step towards fixing that.
2. With seven commitments over the final four days of the 2012 recruiting period it appears that all is well once again in the Land of Bob, right?
jte - There is no questioning how well this staff closed, especially in spite of the internal turmoil, but I'm not sure I'm ready to say all is well quite yet. With respect to recruiting, I thought they really dropped the ball at LB in this year's class. And as optimistic as I am for this coming year, we're going to have to see the product on the field before I can say all is right in the OU world. What changes does Mike Stoops make to the defensive scheme? How do those changes work? How does the LB position perform under new coach Tim Kish? Can Josh Heupel make the necessary significant improvement as a play caller in his second year on the job?
Those are just a couple of the questions I'd have as we sit months away from spring ball and even more months away from the 2012 season.
O^3 - I will venture to say that all is well. We have looked at getting rid of bad attitudes, bad seeds, etc and if all is going according to plan, I can be optimistic about this program. Oklahoma is looking at recruiting quality talent to go along with quality kids which should go a long way in terms of chemistry.
While I still think Tim Kish was the safe hired and not necessarily the "home run" we were looking for. With the current situation, I can say that Oklahoma needed that safe hire and was in no position to take a big risk. So for that I can commend them but still wasn't what I would have liked to see.
On offense, Stoops has started to gain a tighter grip on the reigns and the changes have been good to see. The small tweaks were part of the much needed success in the red zone, but a healthy team will allow more versatility.
CCM - I think that the way the Sooners closed out the recruiting period shows that things weren't quite as bad as many feared that they were but it also doesn't mean that things are all peachy now either.
Now we have to watch this team through the spring and into the fall to see how new coaches and players are going to mesh with an old system and the current players and coaches. The end to the recruiting period was a positive sign of what things could be but it certainly wasn't the magic elixir that fixes everything.
3. What's your top storyline heading into spring football?
jte - I think the obvious one is the coaching changes on defense, but I'm focusing on the other side of the ball. Heupel and the offense obviously got some very good news when Landry Jones chose to return for his senior season, much to the chagrin of a vocal portion of Sooner Nation. However, outside of Jones the offense will be breaking in a number of new skill position players. Now they won't all have arrived on campus by the spring, but several will be here and they'll be playing a significant role in this offense. Trey Metoyer at WR, Brannon Green and Taylor McNamara at TE, Daryl Williams at tackle, and while they're not new to the roster Brennan Clay and Roy Finch will be counted on until Dom Whaley can return and Damien Williams arrives this summer.
O^3 - I've got to stick with the development of the Tight Ends. While Oklahoma has refused to include the TEs in the game planning especially near the goal line, they could see themselves in the same predicament seeing as there were none who would be returning. With the current running back situation, Blake Bell is going to be counted on time and time again in the red zone. Eventually someone will figure that formation out and be able to stop it. It started at Iowa St. this past season as Bell was stuffed and then threw an INT. Yes it will still be affective but to what extent? I have seen how instrumental TEs have become this season in the NFL with the mismatches they create. It is something that will trickle down but who will be the first to pick it up and exploit it on the NCAA level? I can only hope the coaching staff at OU will take not and begin to experiment with it.
CCM - To me its Landry Jones developing a rapport with the new receivers and tight ends. Oklahoma's passing attack (and offensive production as a whole) suffered greatly after the loss of Ryan Broyles. That has to be fixed immediately and spring ball is where it should happen.
Jaz Reynolds won't be participating in the spring by Trey Metoyer will. Kenny Stills struggled to insert himself as the "go-to" receiver but perhaps having a big bodied receiver like Metoyer will (6-2/198) help Stills find his groove in a position he's more comfortable in by not drawing all of the defense's attention. Chemistry is key!
4. Jordan wrote a piece last week suggesting that Oklahoma's basketball team could reach 18 wins in the regular season. First question, a week later do we still feel this is possible? Second question, how many wins does OU need to make the NCAA?
jte - Bad timing for his after having just watched our Sooners drop a tough one at home to Iowa State. It was a game they really needed to win and not doing so means they'll likely now have to get at least one if not two wins they weren't previously expected to get. I hate to put so much on just that one game, but I feel like them losing it also lost them their shot at postseason play. Now that's obviously barring them going on some kind of shocking run and say upsetting a Missouri team Monday night who could be ripe for a let down or say ending the regular season on a four game win streak which isn't an entirely impossible proposition.
If you're asking me how many wins it would take OU to make the NCAA tourney, I'd say no less than 20. Minimum. Either that or making a seemingly improbable run in the Big 12 tourney and winning it all, I just can't at this point envision a scenario where either of those things happens.
I'm a huge fan of what Kruger has done with this team and am incredibly excited about the potential of next year's team. As for this year, I hate to ever take this approach to things but I think we just need to be happy with the progress that has been made.
O^3 - At this point it is tough to say that Oklahoma will reach that 18 win mark. The rest of the season will see a watered down schedule with possibly only two ranked teams remaining. I definitely think that some teams will come in flat playing against this Sooners squad that has up to this point exceeded expectations. The only games I am writing off as losses at this point are Mizzou and Baylor while I still sit on the fence of play at Texas. However, the rest will be competitive and have the potential to go down as a mark in the "W" column.
As far as OU making the tourney, I still have them on the outside looking in. They have wins swept ranked Kansas St. but outside of that there really are no marquee wins up to this point. If Oklahoma is able to achieve the 18 win mark, they will certainly find themselves on the bubble with a slim chance. I have to agree with JTE that the magic number is 20.
Next season could be a completely different story though. Kruger has this program going in the right direction and with a couple top 100 recruits coming in, this team could benefit significantly in a short amount of time. However, the Big XII remains one of the better basketball conferences and getting those big wins is always going to be tough no matter how good the talent.
CCM - Unless we see a miracle happen Oklahoma is going to lose their third game in a row tonight when they host Missouri. The Tigers are coming off an emotional win over Kansas so it could be a nice spot for OU to be in but the reality of the situation is right now Mizzou is way ahead of Oklahoma in terms of product on the floor.
I love what Coach Kruger is doing with this team and the direction that he has the program heading. They're so close to turning it around but there just not there yet. I said that the NCAA Tournament went out with the Cincinnati loss and I still feel that way. In my mind Oklahoma has three wins left on the schedule. I think they can win at Tech and beat both OSU and Texas at home. Anything above that would be a bonus for me.
I'm saying that at this point the Sooners are NIT bound.
5. Big XII basketball power rankings. Break it down.
1. Mizzou - They've got issues (depth, no height) that could give them problems in the tourney, but they're the best team in this conference IMO.
2. Baylor - Mizzou might be the best team, but I don't think there is any questioning that Baylor is the most talented. However, Scott Drew is still their head coach and there is still some question as to which Baylor team shows up every night.
3. Kansas - I hate Kansas. But even I have to give them credit for overachieving this year with a team that is significantly less talented than any "normal" KU team.
4. Iowa State - I think this is a really dangerous team, both in the conference and potentially in postseason play as well.
5. K-State - I think we're all lucky given how KSU has played at times this year that Frank Martin hasn't gone on a multi-state killing spree.
6. Texas - Young with a ton of potential, the Horns are as inconsistent as any team in the league. They have the talent to beat any team on any given night or lose by double digits.
7. Texas A&M - I think healthy, this is where they'd belong. So I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt placing them here because they've been anything but healthy as of late.
8. Oklahoma - If we had one more shooter, I think we'd be at least a couple spots higher on this list. So frustrating because they seem so close and they probably cursed themselves by raising our expectations with a very pleasantly surprising non-con performance.
9. Oklahoma State - Travis Ford is a homeless man's Scott Drew. Great recruiter, horrible basketball coach.
10. Texas Tech - I know it's very tempting right now Billy, but stay away from that bottle.
1. Mizzou - can run with anyone in the nation and simply put wears their opponent out. Not the most talented team in the conference but they are playing a very high level of basketball right now
2. Kansas - they find themselves at #2 because at this point, I don't think any conference team can beat them at home. Maybe not the most talented team in KU history but still a head above the opposition
3. Baylor - a very talented team but struggles to put team away when they have the chance
4. Iowa St. - a big surprise here but they way they shoot the ball and are not dependent upon one single player for scoring is huge
5. Kansas St. - has had a definite drop off in talent but remains physical which gives them the edge over many Big XII teams
6. Texas - young but talented and inconsistent. The upside of this team lands them here for me at the moment
7. Oklahoma - has played a tough stretch of conference ball and remained competitive for the most part. Confidence will come with the weaker remaining schedule and the Sooners finish strong
8. Oklahoma St. - Keeton Page trying to dunk on a big man...enough said
9. Texas A&M - to start with the weak side of the conference and still come out 3-7 does not bode well for this Aggie team...their uphill battle begins and they get maybe 3-4 more wins
10. Texas Tech - bottom feeders without a doubt. They lack a big time scorer and it shows
4. Iowa State
5. Kansas State
9. Texas A&M
10. Texas Tech