Oklahoma 2006 Preview - Offense
Oklahoma Sooners
Posted Jul 31, 2006

Oklahoma Sooners Preview 2006 ... Oklahoma Offense

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.

Returning Leaders
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
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior OT Chris Messner
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:
Certainty on the offensive line, quarterback

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

Projected Starter
- 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.

Top Backups
- 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.

Running Backs
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

Projected Starters
- 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.

Top Backups
DeMarco Murray, Fr.
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 Bowl.
- 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 fast
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

Projected Starters

- Malcolm Kelly, Soph. - 33 catches, 471 yds, 14.3 ypc, 2 TD
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 problem.

-  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.

Top Backups
- 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, 1 TD
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.

Offensive Linemen
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 Starters
- 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 freshman.
- OG
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.

Top Backups
- 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.
The 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 a reserve.
- 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.

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