2007 Oklahoma Preview |
2007 OU Defense Preview
2007 OU Depth Chart
2006 CFN Oklahoma
What you need to know: If a quarterback comes through and
shines, this could be the nation's most effective offense. If
the offensive line isn't the best in college football, it's
number two, the running backs are very fast and very talented,
and the receiving corps, led by top pro prospect Malcolm Kelly,
is very big and very fast. It all comes down to redshirt
freshman Sam Bradford, who won the quarterback
battle over junior Joey Halzle. If he can be steady in the plum gig,
the attack is loaded enough to win a national title.
Passing: Joey Halzle
1-2, 15 yds
Rushing: Allen Patrick
169 carries, 761 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Malcolm Kelly
62 catches, 993 yds, 10 TD
Star of the offense: Junior WR Malcolm Kelly
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman QB Sam Bradford
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT Phil Loadholt
Best pro prospect: Kelly
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Kelly, 2) OG George
C Jon Cooper
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, running back,
Weakness of the offense:
Projected Starter: Joey Halzle is the safe, solid
option. 6-5, 197-pound redshirt freshman Sam Bradford is
the shot for the stars. A scout team star last season, he seems
to have the offense down and looked the part of a starter this
spring. He's not as fast as Halzle, but he can move and has the
potential to grow into a pro prospect with the arm, size and
athleticism to take the job by the horns for the next four
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Joey Halzle might be the least talented of the three
quarterback options, but he's a veteran from the JUCO ranks who
has good 6-3, 198-pound size, fantastic speed, good strength,
and enough all-around talent to keep the offense going, and the
mistakes to a minimum. He fits the OU mold of solid,
unspectacular passers who produce, but he might have to show a
bit more to see starting time.
True freshman Keith Nichol
was almost ready to go to Michigan State and be the likely
starter, but changed his mind at the last possible moment and
chose OU. A high school cornerback as well as a quarterback,
he's 6-2, 180 pounds, athletic, and has a cannon for an arm. He
threw for 76 touchdowns and ran for 58 more in his high school
career. While he'll likely redshirt, he's being given a shot to
Watch Out For ... Bradford. He was the better
quarterback at times in spring ball, but it'll be hard to not go
with the veteran, Halzle, and bring along the star prospect a
little slowly and develop him for some time later in the year or
for next season.
Strength: Athleticism. All three quarterbacks run
extremely well and can be used in designed running plays.
They'll all get plenty of time to work behind a tremendous line,
but they can get out of trouble.
Weakness: Experience. Halzle completed one of two
passes for 15 yards last year. That's it as far as D-I playing
Outlook: If OU can win the Big 12 title with Paul
Thompson at quarterback, it can win with any of the three
options taking over. All have talent, all can run, and all can
throw (with Nichol able to throw the ball through a wall), but
in the end, it's up to Bradford to grow into the job. If he
lives up to his potential right away, OU is a true national
Projected Starters: For the moment, 6-0, 191-pound senior
Allen Patrick will be the starter after filling in for an
injured Adrian Peterson and all but carrying the Sooners over
the second half of the regular season. Not only did the rushing
production not fall off with Patrick in, it picked up at times
with 440 yards over a critical midseason three-game stretch and
163 more at Oklahoma State. Whenever he carried the ball 20
times or more, he ran for 100 yards, finishing with 761 yards
and four scores. The former defensive back is a workhorse who's
able to pound it between the tackles and show off a good burst
of speed when he gets through the line.
When the Sooners used a fullback, it'll be 6-1, 237-pound senior
Dan Zaslaw who'll step in as a blocker. The former
linebacker is physical, but didn't get any carries last year and
caught just six passes for 68 yards.
Projected Top Reserves: It's just a question of
time before it's the DeMarco Murray show. The coaching
staff resisted the urge to play their superstar recruit when
injuries struck the backs, and now it'll pay off as the redshirt
freshman with 6-0, 191-pound size, 4.37 speed and 41-inch
vertical apparently ready to be the next great Sooner back. He
was phenomenal in spring ball showing off an unbelievable burst
in the spring game with 103 yards on just four carries.
The third man in the mix, but almost certain to see time, will
be 5-10, 190-pound sophomore Chris Brown, who stepped in
when Peterson and Patrick were hurt and ran for 84 yards and two
scores against Texas Tech, 169 yards and a score against Baylor,
and 74 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma State to help
seal the South title. While he isn't as fast as Murray, he's has
excellent speed and is more of a quick, darting back compared to
the straight ahead style of Patrick.
Watch Out For ... Murray. He wasn't the otherworldly
recruit Peterson was coming out of high school but he wasn't too
far off. With the speed, flash and talent shown off this spring,
he's too good to not become a regular past of the offense.
Strength: Speed. Patrick can move, while Murray
and Brown can fly. Whoever is running the ball will come up with
a ton of yards and plenty of big plays.
Weakness: The coaching staff. OU wears down its
backs. Peterson's collarbone injury was a fluke, but he got
dinged up from time to time after his freshman year partly
because the coaching staff steadfastly refused to come up with a
rotation to decrease the workload. The law of averages, when it
comes to running backs, means that backs who carry the ball a
ton will eventually get a bad roll, and strange twist, or
something that'll knock them out. Patrick got 102 carries in
three games, and got hurt. Peterson got 168 carries in six
games, and got hurt. Fortunately ...
Outlook: ... OU has three backs who could be First
Team All-Big 12 performers with the full-time workload. Patrick,
Allen and Murray were all superstar recruits, and they run like
it. There's an embarrassment of riches in the backfield in what
should be one of the nation's most effective ground games. Call
if a perfect convergence of fast, talented backs working behind
a tremendous line.
Projected Starters: The receiving corps is big, fast, and really
good. The biggest and best of the bunch is 6-4, 217-pound junior
Malcolm Kelly, who might be the first receiver taken in
the 2008 NFL Draft if he leaves early and if he has someone
getting him the ball on a consistent basis. The big unknown is a
knee injury that he suffered early in the Fiesta Bowl that kept
him out of spring ball, but assuming all is fine, the sky's the
limit. He caught 62 passes for 993 yards and ten touchdowns,
highlighted by an 11-catch, 153-yard, one touchdown day against
Texas Tech, and a ten-catch, 142-yard, two touchdown day against
Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship. How important is he? In his
six worst games of the year, OU had to battle to beat UAB, lost
to Oregon, lost to Texas, beat Texas A&M by one point, struggled
to get by Oklahoma State, and lost to Boise State.
The main man on the other side of Kelly will be 6-1, 201-pound
junior Juaquin Iglesias, a speedster who stepped up big
time when Kelly went down against Boise State, having his best
game of the season with six catches for 120 yards. He finished
second on the team with 41 grabs for 514 yards and two scores.
Considering he's mainly considered to be a home-run threat and
needs some polish on his overall game, he should be a steady
In three-wide sets, which OU usually runs, 5-11, 177-pound
junior Manuel Johnson will get the call after finishing
third on the team with 36 catches for 378 yards and three
scores. While he disappeared for stretches and didn't come close
to tapping into his jaw-dropping speed, he wasn't bad and will
be as dangerous a third receiver as any in the Big 12. If he
puts it all together and starts running crisper routes, he could
be the X factor in the passing game.
Back at tight end after starting every game is senior Joe Jon
Finley, a 6-6, 260-pounder who can catch a little bit with
19 grabs for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Extremely athletic,
he's like an oversized wide receiver who creates a variety of
Projected Top Reserves: It'll be hard to crack
into the receiver rotation, but junior Fred Strong is a
good prospect with 6-1, 197-pound size, excellent speed, and
decent hangs. He only made nine catches for 73 yards and was out
of the mix for most of the second half of the year, but now
he'll play a big role in the rotation behind Iglesias.
6-4, 184-pound Adron Tennell saw time as a true freshman
with two catches for 26 yards. Out of all the big, fast OU
receivers, Tennell has the best combination of good size and
otherworldly speed, and once he gets a chance to see meaningful
playing time, he'll be terrific.
While Finley is the main man at tight end, 6-6, 250-pound
sophomore Jermaine Gresham and 6-5, 258-pound sophomore
Brody Eldridge will both see time. Gresham is more of a
receiver, catching eight passes for 161 yards and a touchdown,
while Eldridge, who caught three passes for 18 yards, is more of
Watch Out For ... Kelly to become a nationally known
star. The buzz is starting to generate that he could be a top 15
overall pick if there aren't any lingering effects from his knee
injury and if he starts to play up to his size. He's not
physical enough, but he's tough when he has to be.
Strength: Size and speed. Outside of USC, no one
has a receiving corps with the combination of size and wheels
that this one has. Everyone is big, and everyone can fly.
Weakness: Consistency. Blame it on erratic
quarterback play (at times) and blame it on an offense that ran
the ball on everyone. Kelly was always on when the offense
revolved around him, but Iglesias and Johnson, considering they
were second and third on the team in receiving, have to be
stronger game in and game out.
Outlook: The top six receivers (not counting
Adrian Peterson) are back. Kelly might be the best OU receiver
ever (with 95 catches for 1,484 yards and 12 touchdowns in two
years, he's already among the greats) and Iglesias and Johnson
have the speed and potential to blow up on every play. Throw in
the great trio of tight ends, and OU is loaded.
Projected Starters: There are tremendous battles for starting
jobs at three spots across the front, but two jobs are set. Junior
Jon Cooper is a rising star at center, and junior George Robinson
is a rising superstar at left guard.
At 6-5 and 330 pounds, Robinson is a big blocker in the interior who can
move linemen around without much of a problem. He's not as bulky anymore
after starting his career at well over 360 pounds, and he could play
tackle if needed. While "Duke" could still used some more seasoning in
pass protection, he's coming into his own as an All-America caliber run
The 6-2, 285-pound Cooper is a true anchor in the middle, starting all
but on game over the last two seasons. Versatile enough to move to guard
in a pinch, he's a tough run blocker who's a year removed from an ankle
injury that curtailed his freshman year. He's been a producer since the
moment he set foot on campus.
Everything else is up in the air, but for now, the biggest move of the
off-season was the addition of 6-8, 360-pound junior Phil Loadholt
at left tackle. The massive JUCO transfer was a two-time
All-American at Garden City CC in Kansas showing unreal athleticism for
a player of his size. He might not be Chris Messner right away, the star
he's replacing, but he has the potential to be fantastic.
6-6, 312-pound junior Branndon Braxton would likely get the
starting right tackle job if the season started today. That might change
in a hurry. He started the first seven games of last season before
breaking his leg, and now he's in a fight to get his job back. With
excellent speed for such a big player, he's great on the move. At least
he was. He'll have to show this fall that he can be his old self.
The other big battle is at right guard, where 6-4, 293-pound sophomore
Brian Simmons will be a key part of the rotation if he doesn't
get the job. Able to play either guard position, he's more than athletic
enough to also move to tackle if needed. The former defensive lineman
missed the first part of last year after getting injured lifting
weights, never quite got into the swing of things, and now is back.
Projected Top Reserves: Don't get too comfortable
with Braxton and Simmons as starters. 6-3, 306-pound junior Brandon
Walker held down the starting right guard job all of last year after
coming to OU following a tremendous JUCO career. Even though Walker
isn't as athletic as Simmons, he's a bruiser who'll be tough to finally
kick out of a starting job.
Pushing for the right tackle job will be 6-5, 321-pound sophomore
Trent Williams, who stepped in when Braxton broke his leg and was
fantastic over the final seven games of the year. While not a top-shelf
athlete, he can move well and is a killer in the running game. Big
enough to move inside, he'll first be a key blocker somewhere at tackle
Watch Out For ... Loadholt. Trent Williams will be an
All-Big 12 performer at some point in his career, and Branndon Braxton,
when he gets healthy, will also be in the hunt for all-star honors. It
took a special type of player to step in and take over the left tackle
job right off the bat, and Loadholt is that type of performer.
Strength: Everything. Size, depth, athleticism,
NFL skill, options, rising prospect, reliable veterans, this group has
Weakness: The only possible problem could be if
Braxton's leg isn't quite right, Loadholt needs a little time to get
adjusted (considering Miami comes to town in week two), something
happens to Robinson. The overall depth is there, but this won't be the
same line if something happens to Duke or Cooper.
Outlook: A major concern going into last year
eventually turned into a phenomenal strength. Even with injuries and a
little bit of shuffling, the line was killing defenses over the second
half of last year. Now it's even better with what might be the best line
in the Bob Stoops era. Obviously, he's had some decent ones over the