Another Sooner failure?

It is pretty simple to figure out why two BCS teams have started the season number one and ended up that way too. The 1999 Florida State Seminoles and the 2004 USC Trojans (that title has since been vacated) had squads that could mirror some NFL teams, had coaches that let the players pretty much do whatever the hell they wanted (especially in USC’s case) and the killer instinct to put most teams away before the first television commercial break.
Oklahoma starts this college football season as #1 in the preseason poll by USA Today and will most likely find themselves atop the Associated Press poll when it’s released in a week. The Sooners certainly have the talent, a weakened Big 12 and the out-of-conference schedule to get the job done. Oklahoma has appeared in more national championship games than any other school and tied with Ohio State with eight BCS game appearances overall.

Positives:

Loaded offense: The offense returns eight starters including Heisman candidate Landry Jones (66% comp. pct, 4,718 yards, 38 TD) and 1st team All-American wide receiver Ryan Broyles (131 catches, 1,622 yards, 14 TD). Running back will be by committee, but it must be more effective than the 138-yard per game average put up last year and the line is solid and experienced. OU had a grand total of nine rushing plays that covered 20 yards or more. But make no bones about the Sooners are going to put up points and they don’t like wasting time doing it.

Discipline:At least last season, Oklahoma was not in the gift-giving business. In other words, OU didn’t give away the football as if they worked at the Salvation Army. The Sooners ranked seventh nationally in turnover margin and they also take care of business at home, having won 36 in a row at Memorial Stadium.

Negatives:

Road woes: Leaving the comfortable confines of Norman, Oklahoma is never easy. The past three seasons the Sooners are 14-9 in road/neutral games. That efficiency this season won’t get it done. With the showdown in Dallas with a hungry Texas squad always circled, the Sooners’ trip to Tallahassee versus a revenge seeking Florida State crew, and the season finale in Stillwater against an always defensively challenged Oklahoma State could land Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl if they are not careful.

Injury bug/Coverage teams: All-Big 12 weak side linebacker Travis Lewis will be out for at least eight weeks, and the tragic loss of senior linebacker Austin Box will surely be felt. The Sooners were excellent in pass efficiency defense and getting to the quarterback but will be breaking in two new safeties, which could be a problem in the pass happy Big 12. The kickoff coverage team in 2010 was atrocious allowing four kicks to be returned for touchdowns.

This team has the talent to go wire-to-wire. So simply put Oklahoma needs be better in getting teams off the field on 3rd down, clean up the special teams and have a sense of urgency when playing away from Norman. Anything less than at least a Big 12 championship and another BCS berth is simply unacceptable.

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~ by Scooby Axson on August 24, 2011.

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