2012 Oklahoma Preview - Offense
Oklahoma QB Landry Jones
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Oklahoma Sooner Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The offense that finished fifth in the nation and tenth in scoring might not be quite as explosive, but it should be every bit as strong thanks to the return of quarterback Landry Jones for his senior season. While the top NFL prospect might be the team’s signature star, pounding backup Blake Bell could steal the spotlight with his short-yardage scoring ability. The receiving corps might lose Ryan Broyles, but top recruit Trey Metoyer and Kenny Stills are terrific and getting Justin Brown from Penn State helps. A quick group of athletic backs should produce behind an outstanding line that gets four starters back with the depth to keep everyone fresh.
Star of the offense: Senior QB Landry Jones
Passing: Landry Jones
355-562, 4,463 yds, 29 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: Dominique Whaley
113 carries, 627 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Kenny Stills
61 catches, 849 yds, 8 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior WR Kenny Stills
Unsung star on the rise: Freshman WR Trey Metoyer
Best pro prospect: Jones
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Jones, 2) OG/C Gabe Ikard, 3) Metoyer
Strength of the offense: Experience, Line
Weakness of the offense: Running Back, Tight End
Senior Landry Jones probably would’ve been a Miami Dolphin had he left a year early – taken instead of Ryan Tannehill – but instead he chose to come back for his senior year after completing 63% of his passes for 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns with 15 scores. While the numbers weren’t bad, he threw for 38 touchdowns and 4,718 yards in 2010. Worse yet, Jones threw just one touchdown pass and six interceptions in the final four games of the year after star receiver Ryan Broyles went down, even though he bombed away for 447 yards in the loss to Baylor.
At 6-4 and 218 pounds, Jones has excellent size, decent enough mobility to not be a sitting duck – but he’s not a runner in any way – and has a live, NFL arm. More than anything else, though, he has great poise and he doesn’t get rattled. He might not seem like a Robert Griffin III baller or gunslinger, but he doesn’t have any problems mixing it up in shootouts. However, he has to be a quicker decision maker and he has to cut down on his picks with a whopping 41 in his three seasons. Even after three seasons as the starter he needs lots of work on his mechanics – he needs to be more consistent with his motion and his feet – but he’s about to put up another 4,000-yard season as he smashes the OU record books after already holding the honor of being the school’s all-time leading passer.
While Jones is the future NFL star and will be in the hunt for the Heisman, the catalyst might end up being Blake Bell, the 6-6, 254-pound sophomore who has a huge arm, pro-style skills and the potential to be OU’s next great quarterback. However, while The Belldozer would’ve been in the mix for the starting job if Jones had left early, he has a well-defined role as the closer around the goal line, running 44 times on the year for 171 yards and 13 touchdowns with all the scores coming in the final six games. He ran five times for 16 yards and four scores loss to Baylor, and he likely would’ve put the game out of reach had he been given a shot at a two-point conversion try that was negated by a penalty. He’s a runner for the moment, but soon he’ll show off his elite passing skills, too.
Bell will see plenty of action and Jones is a rock, but Drew Allen is the likely No. 2 option. The 6-5, 226-pound junior threw for 71 yards last season in mop-up time, and while he would’ve been the front-runner for the job had Jones left early, he should be a terrific backup with great size, a huge arm and more mobility than Jones.
Watch Out For … the Belldozer. Bell was on a pace to run for 28 touchdowns had he been used in the short-yardage packages from the start of the season, and this year he’ll do even more in his well-defined role. A great passer, he won’t just be used as a hammer and will catch cheating up linebackers time after time with short throws that could go a long way.
Strength: Size. If you’re not at least 6-4 and around 220 pounds, you need not apply. Oklahoma is loaded with NFL prototypes. They’re all big, they can all throw, and they all have the upside and potential to put up 4,000 yards when given the chance.
Weakness: Interceptions. Jones only threw one in the loss to Texas Tech and one more in the loss to Baylor, while the two he pitched against Oklahoma State hardly mattered in that debacle, but still he needs to cut down on his mistakes. In his 37 games as a starter he has thrown an interception in 26 of them. The Sooners haven’t lost a game over the last two seasons when he didn’t throw a pick.
Outlook: Once again the Sooners are beyond loaded with the return of Jones changing the team, the offense, and potentially the 2012 college football season. While he might have taken a step back last season, he’s an elite talent who’ll be someone’s franchise NFL quarterback next season. Bell and Allen are terrific prospects with Bell about to become a national folk hero.
Unit Rating: 10
The Sooners have a slew of highly-rated running back prospects, but it was 5-11, 204-pound walk-on Dominique Whaley who turned into the main man finishing with a team-leading 627 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, despite playing in just six games before suffering a season-ending broken ankle. He might not be lightning fast and he doesn’t bring a lot of power, but he’s quick, slippery and he’s always moving forward. However, while he was a nice find and ran for three 100-yard games, those came against Tulsa, Ball State and Kansas.
As productive as Whaley might have been, junior Roy Finch is the more talented back and will likely get a lot more work. At 5-7 and 175 pounds he’s a smallish quick back with darting ability, averaging 5.5 yards per carry with 605 yards and three scores. The one-time star recruit was solid over the back half of last year after getting more time and few carries letting a broken foot heal, but now he should be a much bigger part of the rotation and as a receiver after catching 34 passes for 296 yards.
5-11, 201-pound junior Brennan Clay saw a little bit of time as a true freshman and finished third on the team last year with 274 yards and a score averaging 3.7 yards per carry. The one-time superstar recruit out of San Diego is smart, fast and has great hands, but he hasn’t been able to take over and find his niche. Versatile, he was the first player in California history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch over 1,000 yards worth of passes in a season.
While backup quarterback Blake Bell will provide the power on short-yardage situations, 6-2, 256-pound junior Trey Millard is a first-team All-Big 12 performer who ran for 169 yards and two scores while catching 13 passes for 127 yards and a core. A great all-around player, he’s an excellent blocker with great hands and nice quickness for his size.
Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Damien Williams. A JUCO All-American, the 6-1, 215-pounder out of Arizona Western Conference has the right blend of speed and size to potentially be the No. 1 back the offense needs. He could be a big-time upgrade right away.
Strength: Quick backs. Oklahoma has always recruited to a type, and while it would be nice to have an Adrian Peterson-like monster who can barrel away, the current backs are all speedy and shifty. They’re all good outlet targets and they can fly through the hole.
Weakness: Good run defenses. It’s not like OU played a slew of top defenses, but it couldn’t get the running game going against Florida State, Texas or Oklahoma State. Iowa held the Sooners to 114 yards.
Outlook: The Sooners had a boatload of superstar recruits and talents who ended up leaving for one reason or another over the past year. Fortunately, Whaley is back and will be healthy again while Finch, Clay and Williams are all talented runners who can get the job done.
Unit Rating: 7
The passing game didn’t exactly go into the tank when Ryan Broyles went down, but the touchdowns weren’t there. Now it’ll be up to junior Kenny Stills to be the main man after finishing second on the team with 61 catches for 849 yards and eight scores averaging 13.9 yards per grab. He had three 100-yard games and was on fire with 236 yards in a two-game span against Texas Tech and Kansas State, but he didn’t exactly blow up when Broyles went down. At 6-1 and 190 pounds he has good size and can move, but he has to prove he can be the guy.
The Penn State passing game was supposed to be helped in a huge way by senior Justin Brown after finishing second on the team with 35 catches for 517 yards and two scores, but he bailed out and now should be a key target for the Sooners.. At 6-3 and 209 pounds he has terrific size and had been a steady target considering the quarterback play at PSU was so lousy, but now he has someone good throwing his way and his production should go up in the new offense. The talent is there.
Will junior Jaz Reynolds be back in the mix? The 6-2, 198-pound veteran finished third on the team with 41 catches for 715 yards and five scores averaging a game-breaking 17.4 yards per grab before suffering a kidney injury, but he was suspended this offseason. When he’s right he’s one of the team’s most dangerous big targets, but it doesn’t seem like the team is counting on him or fellow suspended receiver Trey Franks, a 5-10, 184-pound speedster who made 22 grabs for 196 yards. While he was a short-to-midrange target and averaged just 8.9 yards per catch, he can fly.
With Reynolds and Franks suspended, the door is open for super-recruit Trey Metoyer, a 6-2, 198-pound playmaker caught 108 passes for 1,540 yards and 23 scores as a high school senior. He was the star prospect of last year’s class but ended up spending the year at Hargrave Academy in Virginia while everything worked out with his grades. Arguably the greatest receiver recruit in the history of the program, he’s big, strong and runs great routes. All the tools are there to be special with the upside and potential to be the No. 1 target.
Also ready to come in and produce right away is JUCO transfer Courtney Gardner, a 6-3, 215-pound athlete from Sierra College. The 2007 and 2009 Nevada state long jump champion, he’s an elite athlete who caught 61 passes for 1,099 yards and 13 scores last year at the lower level.
The top tight ends are gone, with the loss of James Hanna really hurting, so now it’s up to junior Brannon Green, a 6-2, 250-pound JUCO transfer from Fort Scott CC to stabilize the position. However, he’s a blocker more than a typical OU receiving tight end. Built more like a fullback than a big wide receiver, he can blast away but he needs to do more after catching 15 passes for 213 yards in eight games at the lower level. 6-7, 234-pound freshman Sam Grant is also a blocker, but he has the body and the frame to develop into more of a big target.
Watch Out For … Metoyer. Be really, really disappointed if he isn’t special. Awesome in practices and with NFL skills, he might not be Broyles in terms of numbers but he could be a dominant force if all works out as planned.
Strength: Talent. With Metoyer and Stills the Sooners have as devastating a 1-2 punch as anyone in the receiver-rich Big 12. Throw in the addition of Brown, and now the Sooners are truly loaded. As long as the starters are healthy, all will be fine, however, the depth is really, really thin because of …
Weakness: The suspended veterans. Reynolds and Franks had their scholarships taken away, and Kameel Jackson is likely gone after catching 12 passes for 165 yards. The Sooners will almost certainly get Reynolds and/or Franks back in the mix, but the offense has to rely on Stills, Metoyer and Gardner to shine.
Outlook: How do you easily replace the 349 career catches for 4,586 yards and 45 scores of Ryan Broyles? There’s no depth, there’s no proven No. 1 and the tight ends are iffy at best. However, having Landry Jones throwing the ball will help the cause. As long as the starting receivers can stay on the field, all will be fine, but it might take a while to find the right rotation.
Unit Rating: 8.5
The line was dominant last season in pass protection and wasn’t bad a pounding away for the ground game. With four starters returning, the line should be even stronger led by Gabe Ikard. The 6-4, 295-pound junior isn’t a big, bulky guard, but he’s athletic, quick, and very, very technically sound. He started the final 12 games of 2011 and took over the reins last year earning first team All-Big 12 honors showing his versatility moving from guard to center for a long stretch when Ben Habern went down.
He was going to be a full-time guard again on the left side who’s great in pass protection, but with Habern needing to retire, now it's back to the middle. While he’s not a blaster of a run blocker, the former tight end prospect gets the job done with his quickness.
The big plus for the line puzzle was supposed to be the healthy return of Ben Habern, a 6-3, 286-pound senior who missed the final five games hurt with a neck problem. Unfortunately, he had to retire after having too many injury problems. Staying healthy was always an issue with an ankle injury earlier in his career, but when he was right he was an excellent center and a good quarterback up front.
Supposedly returning to a starting role was senior Tyler Evans, a 6-5, 315-pound tackle-sized veteran who started 12 times as a sophomore and held down the right guard job for all 13 games. Ridiculously strong and with the ability to move the pile as a top run blocker, He slimmed down a bit for his size, and with his smarts and experience is as solid as any blocker on the veteran line. However, he suffered a torn ACL this summer and is out for the year. His loss is a huge hit for the front five, and now it's up to 6-5, 307-pound junior
Bronson Irwin to take over a starting guard job, even though he's far better suited to be a swing backup.
The big question mark is at left tackle where Donald Stephenson is the lone returning starter out of the mix. 6-7, 303-pound Lane Johnson will likely move over from the right side to the left after starting 12 games last year. A former defensive end and tight end, he bulked up and found a home on the line and should be more than fine in the all-important role. A great athlete, he can be a solid pass protector.
With Johnson moving over, 6-6, 299-pound sophomore Daryl Williams is expected to be hold down the right tackle job for the next three years. Very talented and coming off a terrific offseason, he has next-level skills with a great frame and the ability to eventually be the starting left tackle. 6-5, 303-pound Tyrus Thompson is a good-looking sophomore who can work on the left side behind Johnson with the ability and potential to take over the job and move Johnson back over to the right side.
6-4, 307-pound sophomore Adam Shead did a nice job when thrown into the mix at right guard in the middle of the season when Ikard had to move over to center.
Now he'll likely move to Ikard's job at guard with the shuffling going on. A big-time recruit, he’s a good sing guard with tremendous strength and leverage for the running game. He was expected to spend most of his time as a backup at left guard, but now he's a starter who needs to play a huge role.
Watch Out For … Williams. He might be the lone new starter, but he has the ability and potential to stand out right away. With dominant size and nice feet, the potential is there to become an anchor of an all-star.
Strength: Experience. With a few talented returning starters and
Williams about to become terrific, the Sooners, even
with the injuries, are loaded up front with very
good, very talented blockers. This was a veteran
line last season, but there's a big problem with the ...
Weakness: Interior depth. With Habern and Evans gone, all of a sudden there are lots and lots of problems on the inside. There's no depth whatsoever for the paper-thin interior.
Outlook: This might turn out to be among the team’s biggest strengths even with Habern done. Last year the line did a great job of keeping Landry Jones upright, but who's going to hold up in the interior? With two potential NFL tackles in Johnson and Williams the line should be fine, but after staying relatively healthy last year the front five can't afford to take any more bumps and bruises.
Unit Rating: 8
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2012 Oklahoma Defense |
2012 Oklahoma Depth Chart