The Oklahoma Sooners (11-2) bring back nine starters on offense and seven on defense, which means they look solid when it comes to once again taking the Big 12 Conference. In 2016, the team’s Big 12 record was 9-0. That got the Sooners a Jan 2 Cotton Bowl berth where they beat Auburn 35-19. Last season, Oklahoma was a high-scoring team that effectively counterpunched whenever an opponent scored and dominated many teams. Our 2017 Oklahoma Sooners college football preview sees them as once again as taking control over most of their opponents.
Senior QB Baker Mayfield (70.9 COMP%, 3,965 YDs, 40 TDs, 8 INTs) is a stellar passer and fine field general. A seasoned and skilled offensive line will protect Mayfield and open up running lanes. With those two parts of the offense in good working order, coach Bob Stoops and his coaches will need to get the running backs and receivers up to speed. This team lost its top two rushers and top two receivers from 2016. Those players combined for over 2,400 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards. They scored 44 times, which was 62% of Oklahoma’s TDs.
Mayfield will be throwing to junior tight end Mark Andrews and senior WR Jeffrey Mead. Together they accounted for 10 touchdowns on 41 catches. Three new players, including junior college transfer Marquise Brown, will be given a chance to contribute at wideout. Who will be the major ground gainer? That’s a tough question to answer. Sophomore Rodney Anderson has shown a lot of promise, but for two straight years he’s suffered season-ending injuries. This team averaged 43.9 PPG last season, which was third nationally and first in the Big 12. They may be challenged to do that again this season.
The frontline is entirely new, while the linebacking unit returns two of three starters. One thing that helps the front seven is the fact that the secondary is experienced and includes extraordinary sophomore corner Jordan Thomas, who notched two picks and 17 PBU in his freshman season. Senior SS Steven Parker, who took in two interceptions and had four PBU also managed three TFL.
Also on-hand is ILB Emmanuel Beal (81 TCKLs, 2 SCKs, 1 TFL, 1 PBU, 6 QBH) and OLB Ogbonnia Orkoronkwo (71 TCKLs, 9 SCKs, 3 TFL, # PBU, 7 QBH). Sophomore OLB Caleb Kelly has 36 tackles and two TFL in his freshman season. Beal will backup at ILB, as redshirted freshman John-Michael Terry gets the chance to start. The Sooners will use four upfront in an attempt to put more pressure on QBs. This may also help with the inexperience shared by the quartet that occupies the line.
Oklahoma will need to find able replacements for their departed and dangerous punt and kick returners, Dede Westbrook and Joe Mixon. Anderson may offer a solution, as may sophomore wideout Mykel Jones. Junior Austin Siebert handles the punts and kicks. Siebert is accurate as a kicker from within 40 yards and he had a 41.1 YPP average last season, putting 22 within the 20.
2017 Oklahoma Sooners College Football Preview: Final Word
Our 2017 Oklahoma Sooners college football preview finds that this team certainly has the potential to compete for the national title. Coach Stoops (190-48 Overall, 9-9 Bowls) starts his 19th year with the Sooners. He knows how to create winning teams. In four of the last five seasons, Oklahoma has won 10 or more games, and in all five seasons they have posted winning records.
Games to watch include Oklahoma’s road contest against Ohio State on Sep 9, as well as their first Big 12 game on Sep 23 at Baylor. The Sooners have three big road games in a row, starting on October 14 at Texas, Oct 21 at Kansas State, and Nov 4 at Oklahoma State. Their final game, when they host West Virginia, will most likely be a high-scoring affair.
Top Three Takeaways
- Mayfield is key to this team’s success
- The D-line is the biggest question mark
- This team is deep on offense