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2007 Oklahoma Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 17, 2007


Oklahoma had one of the most bizarre seasons in recent memory. It lost a quarterback, got hosed at Oregon, lost a star running back for a stretch, won the Big 12 title, and was the bad guy in the feel good Fiesta Bowl story that was Boise State. Now, Malcolm Kelly and the Sooners just might be the underrated players in the 2007 national title chase.

Oklahoma Sooners

Preview 2007


By Michael Bradley & Pete Fiutak

- 2007 OU Offense Preview | 2007 OU Defense Preview
-
2007 OU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Oklahoma Preview 

Has any team ever had a more bizarre year than the 2006 Oklahoma Sooners? Has anyone ever had so much success, with almost no one remembering it?

The program withstood the late-summer revelation that quarterback Rhett Bomar had been on a no-show job plan, had to deal with the soap opera that was the blown call on a late onside kick in a loss to Oregon, and will forever be known as the team that lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Head coach: Bob Stoops
9th year: 86-19
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 25, Def. 20, ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 10
Ten Best Sooner Players
1. WR Malcolm Kelly, Jr.
2. CB Reggie Smith, Jr.
3. OG George Robinson, Jr. 
4. FS Nic Harris, Jr.
5. DT DeMarcus Granger, Soph.
6. C Jon Cooper, Jr.
7. CB Marcus Walker, Sr.
8. RB Allen Patrick, Sr.
9. RB DeMarco Murray, RFr.
10. PK Garrett Hartley, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2

Sept. 1

North Texas

Sept. 8

Miami

Sept. 15

Utah State

Sept. 21

at Tulsa

Sept. 29

at Colorado

Oct. 6

vs. Texas

Oct. 13

Missouri

Oct. 20

at Iowa State

Nov. 3

Texas A&M

Nov. 10

Baylor

Nov. 17

at Texas Tech

Nov. 24

Oklahoma State

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
10-2
2006 Record: 11-
3
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 UAB W 24-17
9/9 Washington W 37-20
9/16 at Oregon L 34-33
9/23 MTSU W 59-0
10/7 vs. Texas L 28-10
10/14 Iowa State W 34-9
10/21 Colorado W 24-3
10/28 at Missouri W 26-10
11/4 at Texas A&M W 17-16
11/11 Texas Tech W 34-24
11/18 at Baylor W 36-10
11/25 at Oklahoma St W 27-21
12/2 Big 12 Championship
Nebraska W 21-7
1/1 Fiesta Bowl
Boise State L 43-42 OT

Oh yeah, and it won the Big 12 title.

If an 11-3 record and a BCS berth is a bad season, there are roughly 110 other teams that would love a similar misfortune.

However, OU plays for national titles, but is the program as strong as it was before losing back-to-back national championship games? Can Bob Stoops, who didn’t run off to coach the Cowboys, Alabama or anyone else, as many feared, get the Sooners back on top? The answer lies under center, where it has for a while in Norman.

Two years ago, Bomar had to suffer through his apprenticeship. In 2006, Paul Thompson returned to the quarterback spot and acquitted himself fairly well. Now, it’s up to Sam Bradford, Joey Halzle and Keith Nichol to lead a loaded offense, with the winner of the job to be under the microscope all season long. But for a program that went through last year’s adversity, simply finding a quarterback is a walk in the park.

Adrian Peterson may be in the NFL, but there are enough good backs around to tempt Stoops to go back to the wishbone. The offensive line returns four starters and plugs massive (6-8, 350) JC newcomer Phil Loadholt into the left tackle spot. Wideout Malcolm Kelly is an All-America candidate, and there’s good depth behind him. The defensive front seven took some hits, but the secondary is going to be excellent, and reloading is never a problem up front. If the quarterback position solidifies, and it should, Oklahoma will be right where it wants to be.

Ho hum, it might just be the Big 12 champion once again.

What to look for on offense: In a word, balance. The Sooners are going to look to run and pass in equal doses, and it would help a lot if Halzle or Bradford or Keith Nichol came around quickly. OU will be able to run the ball well, thanks to a great line and plenty of backs, led by Allen Patrick, providing a steady dose of last year’s formula. Run well, get timely passing, win.

What to look for on defense: If the Sooners can fix their front seven, this could be a highly dangerous outfit. The question is not only whether the D can stop the run, but whether it can get pressure on the passer with just the front four. The Sooners had just 26 sacks in 14 games last year, hardly enough to be considered imposing, considering they had one of the nation’s most talented, and deepest, defensive lines.

This team will be much better if… it improves its passing offense. As effective as Thompson became, the Sooners were still 70th in the country in passing. Without Peterson around to bull through eight-man fronts, the Sooner running attack will stumble at times if Bradford/Halzle/Nichol can’t launch an effective downfield attack.

The Schedule: It’s far better than it looks on paper. Considering Miami isn’t Miami and has to come to Norman, that’s not the non-conference nightmare it would’ve been a few years ago. The rest of the non-conference schedule is a joke, as the Sooners play North Texas, Utah State and at Tulsa, which will be like an OU home game. The one really tough game against the North, Missouri, is at home, while the only true Big 12 road games are at Colorado, Iowa State and Texas Tech. A three-game home stretch late in the year against Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Baylor might seal the South title, if the Sooners can beat Texas on October 6th.

Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Malcolm Kelly. The 6-4, 217-pound junior has to come back from a knee injury that cost him almost all of the Fiesta Bowl. If he’s back to his old form, he’ll be one of the Big 12’s best receivers, as he comes off a 62-catch, 993-yard, ten-touchdown season, with three 100-yard games in his final four before the Boise State loss.

Best Defensive Player: Junior corner Reggie Smith…or junior safety Nic Harris…or senior corner Marcus Walker. Smith started out at corner before moving over to strong safety and now will move back to corner. Wherever he plays, he’s fast enough to always be around the ball. Harris was mostly a nickel back before turning into a whale of a free safety late in the year, finishing with 68 tackles, four interceptions and eight broken up passes. At 6-3 and 226 pounds, he’s an intimidating force who can do it all. It took Walker a few games before he became a starter, but he grew into the role, finishing with three picks and nine broken up passes. These three form the bulk of the nation’s best secondary.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman Sam Bradford. Along with junior Joey Halzle and true freshman Keith Nichol, Bradford was in a battle to replace Paul Thompson. Even though he'll start the season, he isn’t guaranteed to end it. Nichol is the future star of the show with the most upside and talent, Halzle has the most experience in the system, and Nichol has a nice mix of skills to be the number two man.

The season will be a success if ... OU wins the Big 12 title again and is in the hunt for the national title. There are several major issues to worry about, from the quarterback situation to the defensive line, but the overall talent is in place to make a run for the whole ball of wax. The schedule works out well enough for any team worthy of the BCS to get through undefeated or with one loss at most.

Key game: Oct. 6 vs. Texas. The last time OU lost three in a row to the Longhorns was 1997 through 1999. Losing to them two years ago was one thing (Texas had Vince Young and a national title team), but getting beaten 28-10 last year made this year vital to stop the bleeding. The momentum in the series has to turn back OU’s way in what should, once again, be the game to decide the South title. 

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Third quarter scoring: Oklahoma 119; Opponents 47
- Fumbles: Oklahoma 33 (lost 22); Opponents 23 (lost 14)
- Rushing yards per game: Oklahoma 177.1; Opponents 98.7

  

Related Stories
2007 Oklahoma Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 17, 2007
2007 Oklahoma Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 17, 2007
2007 Oklahoma Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 17, 2007








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