The onset of the season is just around the corner and all eyes are on the Oklahoma Sooners' offense. With a talented backfield and an open quarterback race alongside a new offensive coordinator, many are expecting an overhauled product on the field. Regardless of what the season expectations are, here are three players (aside from the quarterback) who must perform well in order for the Sooners to be successful in 2015.
Josiah St. John
The offensive line may not be a heralded group but they are certainly a necessary component for success. Tasked with protecting the quarterback and creating running lanes, it's easy to see everything starts up front.
Requiring a cohesiveness like none other, the group can only being as strong as their weakest link. Losing three total starters and the entire left side of the offensive line due to graduation, Oklahoma turns to redshirt senior, LT Josiah St. John. Standing 6-6 300-pounds, St. John gained valuable experience playing in eight of thirteen games last year. However, there is no experience behind him. Christian Daimler may be a redshirt sophomore but has yet to make his Sooner debut. This puts the pressure back on St. John to consistently perform at a high level.
Looking at the past season, Sterling Shepard rarely found a complimentary receiver. Amassing 970 receiving yards and five touchdowns while missing nearly five games set the bar high for the remaining receivers. Unfortunately, the next three receivers (Durron Neal (513), Michiah Quick (237), and K.J. Young (225)) only combined for 975 yards and another five touchdowns leaving fans wanting more.
Noting the lack of production and confidence, the coaching staff pulled in Dede Westbrook, the No. 3 JUCO wide receiver to fill the void. In the Spring Game, Westbrook displayed unrivaled speed on a 22-yard reverse earning him the label of a big-play threat. With the expectation of Lincoln Riley using an eight man receiver rotation, the potential for Westbrook to be an impact player skyrockets. This kid has the tools necessary to succeed and should be able to relieve Shepard of some of the pressure.
Many fans have clamored for a resurgence at tight end. in 2014, Blake Bell caught four touchdown passes at the position second to only Shepard's five. Could we take that as a sign? A sign saying Oklahoma wants to involve tight ends once again in more than just blocking?
If so, Mark Andrews could be the answer as Baker Mayfield compared the redshirt freshman to the likes of one Jace Amaro. A versatile yet tall player with the ability to catch and run, Andrews presents a nightmare matchup for linebackers and defensive backs alike. However, Andrews is a guy who can keep the offensive humming at a quick pace due to the potential to play in the slot or even out wide.
Hopefully the Sooners decide to use Andrews in the redzone more often than not leading to a handful of touchdown receptions and in turn, wins!