What you need to know ... The
OU offense isn't quite back to form and probably won't be until
the middle of the season. There's no question in the backfield
with Adrian Peterson loaded up for a Heisman run, but the loss
of starting QB Rhett Bomar to a violation of NCAA rules has
changed the potential of the attack. Now, the receiving corps needs all the sophomores to
make more big plays and be more consistent, and the offensive
line has to figure out who the starting five is going to be
after losing several key starters. The main focus will be among
the coaches where Kevin Wilson and Kevin Sumlin have to replace
offensive coordinator Chuck Long.
Passing: Paul Thompson
11-26, 109 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Adrian Peterson
220 carries, 1,104 yds, 14 TD
Receiving: Malcolm Kelly
33 catches, 471 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Junior RB Adrian Peterson
Certainty on the offensive line, quarterback
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior OT
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Juaquin Iglesias
Best pro prospect: Peterson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Peterson, 2) Messner, 3)
WR Malcolm Kelly
Strength of the offense: Running back, receiver size
Weakness of the offense:
What was about to be a strength is now a glaring weakness.
Rhett Bomar was every bit the big-name recruit as Adrian
Peterson when he signed on a few years ago, and now the Sooners
have to scramble to find a replacement after the sophomore was
kicked off the team for violating NCAA rules. The backup situation
goes from sketchy
to a problem now that JUCO transfer Joey Halzle has to be ready to fly right away.
Wide receiver Paul Thompson is back
under center in the emergency situation.
The key to the unit: Can there possibly be another
year of eligibility for Jason White or Josh Heupel?
Quarterback Rating: 6
- Paul Thompson, Sr. - 11-26, 42%, 109 yds, 1 INT
The starter going into the 2005 season, Thompson will forever be
known as the quarterback who lost the home opener against TCU.
He moved to receiver with the emergence of Rhett Bomar where he
caught 11 passes for 106 yards, but he's back in the mix
at quarterback with good size and tremendous speed. He's getting
a crash course in being the starter again and should add more
mobility to the position.
- Joey Halzle, Soph.
The JUCO transfer enrolled early and looked good enough to
eventually be a solid number two man, and now he'll get a crash
course into being the possible starter with Rhett Bomar off the
team. He struggled once the OU
defense turned the heat up and needs more time in the system to
be even close to strong enough to be an adequate fill-in for
Bomar, but he's tall and very fast.
- Rhett Bomar, Soph. - 167-308, 54%, 2,018 yds, 10 TD, 10
INT, 90 carries, 176 yds, 4 TD
On the verge of becoming a star, Bomar got kicked off the team
for violating NCAA rules taking payments for a phony job.
The common national perception was that Bomar, one of the
nation's top recruits in 2004, had a lousy season because he
didn't put up Jason White-like numbers. While he didn't have a
fantastic year and was lousy against Texas, he wasn't bad
showing toughness and improvement from game to game in his
decision making and accuracy. He's a good-sized, mobile passer
who isn't afraid to pound out tough yards when needed, and was
just emerging into a steady leader before getting booted.
- Sam Bradford, Fr.
With good speed and great size at 6-5 and 200 pounds, Bradford
is an athletic recruit who'll get a crash course in the offense
once he arrives this August. He threw for 2,422 yards and 19
touchdowns last year as an Oklahoma high school all-star.
Adrian Peterson is the best back in college football and
should be a threat for 2,000 yards if he can stay healthy. The
backup situation is a question mark needing to see what top
recruits DeMarco Murray, Mossis Madu and Chris Brown can bring
this fall. Allen Patrick was the number two back throughout
spring, but the former defensive back should quickly get pushed
aside by the young stars. Longtime starting fullback J.D.
Runnels will be replaced by 242-pound Dane Zaslaw.
The key to the unit: Finding a steady number two and
three back to keep Adrian Peterson from wearing down.
Running Back Rating: 10
- Adrian Peterson, Jr. - 220 carries, 1,104 yards, 5.0
ypc, 14 TD, 9 catches, 50 yards
The best player in college football and the likely number one pick in
the draft if/when he decides to come out next season, the
franchise back has to stay healthy for a full season. He had
problems with an ankle injury during the middle part of last
year carrying it a mere 16 times over a four-game span, and then
got healthy and ripped up the back half of the season with
four straight 100-yard days highlighted by a breathtaking
237-yard performance against Oklahoma State. He's a tremendous
mix of 6-2 size, warp speed, and a warrior's mentality. His
running style is a bit too upright and he takes a few too many
big shots, but that's nitpicking for the NFL types to worry
about. Expect him to be used more in the passing game this year.
- Fullback Dane Zaslaw, Jr.
It'll be up to the 242-pound junior to take over for long-time
starter J.D. Runnels as the lead blocker after coming to
Oklahoma as a linebacker. He won't get any carries being used
just as a blocker for Adrian Peterson.
- DeMarco Murray,
He'll be the starter next year once Adrian Peterson jumps early
to the NFL and should be the number two man in the mix right off
the bat this fall. The top recruit was ranked among the best
high school backs in the nation after rushing for 1,947 yards
and 27 touchdowns and catching seven scoring passes last year
for Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas. He has decent size at 6-0
and 183 pounds, but his game is speed, speed, speed clocking in
at 4.37 in the 40.
- Allen Patrick, Jr. - 25 carries, 136 yds, 5.4 ypc, 2 TD, 4
catches, 8 yards
Patrick is a speedy former defensive back who had his biggest
game against Baylor rushing for 49 yards on 15 carries. He's a
good-sized back with great quickness who's able to push for time
as a kick returner as well as the number two running back job.
He'll likely see about five to seven carries a game this year to
keep Peterson fresh.
- Jacob Gutierrez, Jr. - 48 carries, 254 yds, 5.3 ypc, 2
TD, 5 catches, 11 yards
The mighty mite saved the day against Baylor last year filling
in for Adrian Peterson and running for 173 yards and two
touchdowns on 30 carries. He's only 5-6 and 186 pounds, but he's
a tough runner who'll also see time on special teams if and when
he's able to return from a torn ACL suffered in the Holiday
- Matt Clapp, Soph.
A special teamer throughout last year, the 6-2, 242-pound
sophomore will be the main backup fullback behind Dane Zaslaw.
It's an anonymous, no-name receiving corps at
the moment, but that could quickly change if all the sophomores
can be more consistent. It's a very tall group that can all run
and make plays, so there will be a strong, interesting
rotation of players with more talent on the way with lightning
freshman Adron Tennell
coming this fall. One go-to, sure-thing target has to emerge,
and it'll likely be last year's leading receiver, Malcolm Kelly.
Joe Jon Finley and Brody Eldridge are big, athletic tight ends
who'll do more this season.
The key to the unit: Use all the big receiver to create
matchup problems and improve the overall downfield blocking.
Receiver Rating: 8
- Malcolm Kelly, Soph. - 33 catches, 471 yds, 14.3 ypc, 2
The 6-4 sophomore led the team in receiving last season despite
only catching one pass over the first five games. He's a solid
athlete who can make things happen once he gets the ball in his
hands and is a developing blocker. He's a good go-to receiver
able to get open on short to midrange patterns without a
- Juaquin Iglesias, Soph. - 19 catches, 290 yds,
15.3 ypc, 2 TD
Iglesias showed signs of being a star with a strong true
freshman season highlighted by a good Holiday Bowl catching five
passes for 85 yards. He's a speedy receiver who can hit the home
run playing in the slot.
- Tight end Joe Jon Finley, Soph. - 13 catches, 150 yds,
11.5 ypc, 2 TD
A smart player earning All-Big 12 Academic honors, Finley is a
big target who was a major factor over the first half of last
year before failing to catch a pass over the last five games.
He's a great athlete and will be a go-to receiver as the year
goes on, but he's not a dominant blocker.
- Quentin Chaney, Soph. - 2 catches, 26 yds
The 6-5 sophomore is the tallest of a tall receiving corps. He's
not just a big, physical receiver, he has good deep speed. He'll
push for time behind Malcolm Kelly.
- Fred Strong, Soph.
Strong upped his game this spring and showed he's ready to
contribute as a backup behind Paul Thompson. He's a speedy 6-3
receiver who improved this off-season as a route runner.
- Manuel Johnson, Soph. - 10 catches, 170 yds, 17 ypc,
Fast, fast, fast. The sophomore led the team in yards per catch
blazing away for a 55-yard score to help beat Oklahoma State.
While he's small by OU standards, he's a good-sized target at
6-1 and 170 pounds with next level speed.
- Eric Huggins, RFr.
One of last year's top recruits is expected to turn into a
playmaker this year working behind Malcolm Kelly and Quentin
Chaney. He's 6-4 and runs a 4.5 40.
- Tight end Brody Eldridge, RFr.
A defensive end before coming to OU, the 6-5 redshirt
freshman is a speedy backup tight end behind Joe Jon Finley.
This will be the make or break unit for the Sooners with
massive turnover including at coach where James Patton comes in after
doing a fantastic job at Northwestern. There aren't any obvious
all-stars outside of, possibly, the steady Chris Messner at left tackle,
but there's plenty of talent and lots of good prospects to choose from
boosted by JUCO transfers Brandon Walker and Sherron Moore. It was a
good news/bad news situation this spring with projected starter Jon
Cooper out and J.D. Quinn kicked off the team. It allowed several young players to get some
key reps, but it might hurt a line that desperately needs every practice
with a fully operational starting five.
The key to the unit: Get everyone in camp and healthy
to hope for some cohesion and to figure out where the pieces will fit.
Offensive Line Rating: 7.5
Projected StartersThe 290-pound true freshman came to school early and
found himself on top of the depth chart during spring ball. That'll
change once Jon Cooper is healthy, but he should be a key contributor as
- OT Chris Messner, Sr.
A solid right tackle last season, the 6-6, 280-pound senior makes the
move over to the left side where he'll be expected to be the anchor and
potential all-star. He won't be the dominant run blocker that Davin
Joseph was, but he'll be one of the Big 12's best pass protectors.
- OG George Robinson, Soph.
"Duke" was a too huge backup at left guard and will battle for the
starting job this fall. He was 360 pounds last year and got in better
shape to be a more mobile 332 pounds coming into this season.
- C Jon Cooper, Soph.
Able to play center or guard, the 278-pound sophomore is expected to
return healthy this fall from the broken ankle that knocked him out last
year. He played like a veteran with strength and consistency as a true
Brian Simmons, RFr.
Simmons will see time at each guard position and could even end up
starting on the right side after J.D. Quinn got kicked off the team. Originally a
defensive lineman, he's learning the ropes on the offensive side.
- OT Branndon Braxton, Soph.
The 6-6, 318-pound sophomore saw a few starts last year at right tackle
and will take over the job now that Chris Messner has moved to left
tackle. He's a great athlete with great speed for a player his size.
- T Brandon Walker, Jr.
The superstar JUCO transfer will instantly push for time. He's 318
pounds and can move, so it remains to be seen if he'll step in and push
Branndon Braxton for the job on the right side or find a spot on the
inside. His emergence should shuffle the rotation.
- C Chad Roark, Fr.
- G Sherron Moore, Jr.
The 320-pound JUCO transfer enrolled early and showed enough to be
considered a top backup at both guard positions. He's a big run blocker
who's good on the move.