There weren't very many shining moments for the Oklahoma offense last season, but there were a couple. Majority of them had something to do with either Samaje Perine or Sterling Shepard. The running back and wide receiver duo had excellent seasons last year, despite neither of them starting all 12 games. Both players are set to have another big year, which is why Shepard and Perine were both named to the preseason Maxwell Award watch list.
Perine, entering his sophomore season, broke the NCAA rushing record last season with 427 yards in one game against Kansas. It was one of the most dominating performances by any player ever in a collegiate football game. He ended his true freshman season with 1713 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. Perine was the Big 12's leading rusher and had more touchdowns in conference play than any other player in the country.
Shepard battled through injuries last year in his junior season, but still finished with 970 yards. When healthy, he is one of the best receivers in all of college football. The introduction of Lincoln Riley's air raid attack should only boost Shepard's stats even more this season.
Along with the two Sooners on the Maxwell list, three defensive players made the Bednarik Award watch list as well. Zach Sanchez, Charles Tapper, and Eric Striker were all named to the watch list for the award given to the best defensive player in college football.
Senior linebacker Eric Striker was disappointed by the Sooners defense last season, and is using that as motivation for this upcoming season. Many thought Striker would leave for the NFL after the Athletic Bowl loss to Clemson, but Striker said that's not how he wanted to finish his career at Oklahoma. A big season from Striker would certainly help the Sooners next season. Striker had nine sacks last season.
Charles Tapper is a surprise to appear on the list, but he's an excellent linemen and should make first team Big 12 this season. Tapper recorded a total of 16.5 tackles for loss his last two seasons.
Zach Sanchez has been the best defensive back for the Sooners since he stepped on campus three years ago. He's had eight interceptions in two seasons and is always capable of making a big play. Sanchez helped the Sooners in key wins against Alabama, Kansas State, and Texas the past two seasons. He's a big time player and if he keeps on being a ball hawk and makes a couple of big plays he could be a finalist for the Bednarik award.