2009 CFN Oklahoma Preview
Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham
Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham
Posted Jul 7, 2009

The CFN 2009 Oklahoma Sooners Preview, Breakdown, and Analysis.

Oklahoma Sooners

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

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- 2009 CFN Oklahoma Preview | 2009 Oklahoma Offense
- 2009 Oklahoma Defense | 2009 Oklahoma Depth Chart
- 2008 OU Preview | 2007 OU Preview | 2006 OU Preview  

Head coach: Bob Stoops
10th year: 98-21
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 23, Def. 20, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best Sooner Players
1. QB Sam Bradford, Jr.
2. DT Gerald McCoy, Jr.
3. TE Jermaine Gresham, Sr.
4. OT Trent Williams, Sr.
5. LB Ryan Reynolds, Sr.
6. CB Dominique Franks, Jr.
7. LB Travis Lewis, Soph.
8. RB DeMarco Murray, Jr.
9. DE Jeremy Beal, Jr.
10. RB Chris Brown, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction
: 11-1
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 BYU (in Arlington)
9/12 Idaho State
9/19 Tulsa
10/3 at Miami
10/10 Baylor
10/17 Texas (in Dallas)
10/24 at Kansas
10/31 Kansas State
11/7 at Nebraska
11/14 Texas A&M
11/21 at Texas Tech
11/28 Oklahoma State

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2
2008 Record: 12-2

8/30 UT Chattanooga W 57-2
9/6 Cincinnati W 52-26
9/13 at Washington W 55-14
9/27 TCU W 35-10
10/4 at Baylor W 49-14
10/11 Texas (Dallas) L 45-35
10/18 Kansas W 45-31
10/25 at Kansas State W 58-35
11/1 Nebraska W 62-28
11/8 at Texas A&M W 66-28
11/22 Texas Tech W 65-21
11/29 at Oklahoma St W 61-41
12/6 Missouri W 62-21
BCS Championship
1/8 Florida L 24-14

Don't get lazy when it comes to analyzing what the 2009 Oklahoma Sooners can become. Don't just assume that the program is going to take a step back after yet another tough end of the season loss. Don't just assume Texas should be No. 2 in the nation to start the year because it was able to win last year's Red River Rivalry.

And don't assume that Florida is the slam-dunk, no questions asked, No. 1 team going into the season.

Oklahoma doesn't go away no matter what kind of hits it takes, and it's going to come back roaring this year after suffering yet another rough loss. Despite losing five straight BCS games (and five bowl games in six years) including three national championship games, a stunner to Boise State, and to a West Virginia team undergoing a coaching change, the program keeps coming back to try to push the rock up the mountain, and it keeps on improving.

After so many big losses, it's going to be easy to assume the Sooners are overrated and overranked. Why should they keep getting chances in the national championship if they're just going to keep biffing them? But it's not fair to rip on last year's team for losing to a Florida team that deserves consideration among the best of all-time, and it's not okay to lump that loss in with the fiascos of seasons past. That was a war that could've gone either way, and OU happened to come out on the short end of the stick. So while most programs would need time to rebuild and reload, there will be plenty of disappointment for those fans ready to seen the OU reign as a superpower end.

This year's team isn't without its flaws. The machine will go kaput if Heisman-winning QB Sam Bradford gets hurt, the offensive line has to replace four starters, and the depth at receiver and in the secondary is a bit lacking. Pish.

Bradford is a special player who's quarterbacking the Sooners this year instead of the New York Jets (and missing out on getting $28 million in the bank). The 1-2 rushing punch of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown is good enough to potentially be the best in America. The defensive line is loaded with too many pass rushers to get on the field at the same time, and boasts a phenomenal tackle rotation. There's a tremendous starting trio at linebacker, Jermaine Gresham is the nation's best tight end, and the secondary is good enough to not be a weakness. But of course, all the attention will be on the record-setting offense.

The Sooners averaged over 51 points per game and hunt up 60+ points on bowl teams like Nebraska, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Missouri. The O actually moved the ball on Florida and Texas, but lost in tremendous battles. This year's offense could be almost as potent, while the defense should be far better.

So now the question will be whether or not OU has the makeup to get back over the hump and get Bob Stoops his second national title. Considering this might be Stoops' best team yet, get ready for yet another run to the BCS.

What to look for on offense: The offensive line. Last year's front five was the best in America, and this year it has to replace tackle Phil Loadholt, guards Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker, and center Jon Cooper. Tackle Trent Williams might have been the best of the bunch, and while he's back and will move over from right tackle to the left, there are some major question marks after a rocky offseason. Brian Simmons has the potential to be a strong left guard, and there are good, big options at the other three spots, but it's asking a lot to keep Bradford upright like last year's line did. OU allowed just 13 sacks last season and paved the way for 2,779 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns. This year's front five might not be as good, but it can't be a liability in the up-tempo, no-huddle attack.

What to look for on defense: A dominant front seven. It's not an overstatement to suggest that OU has six legitimate pro prospects to rotate around up front, while the linebacking trio of Ryan Reynolds in the middle, leading-tackler Travis Lewis on the weakside, and Keenan Clayton on the strongside will make its pitch to be among the best in college football. Last year, the line was camped out in opposing backfields making 42 tacks and 106 tackles for loss. Those numbers might not even be close to what this year's group should come up with thanks to a devastating end rotation and Gerald McCoy, Adrian Taylor, and DeMarcus Granger at tackle. No one's going to run on this group.

This team will be much better if… Sam Bradford doesn't throw two interceptions. Bradford can't be blamed for the 2007 lost to Texas Tech, he got hurt, and he wasn't bad in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl loss to West Virginia, throwing for 242 yards and two touchdowns with a pick. In the other three losses (Colorado in 2007 and Texas and Florida last year), Bradford threw two interceptions in each game. He also threw two picks against Cincinnati for the only time the Sooners have won when Mr. Heisman has thrown multiple picks in a game. While that might just seem like a throwaway stat, with OU going 22-1 when Bradford throws fewer than two picks and 1-3 (not counting the 2007 Texas Tech game) when he throws multiple interceptions, it really is a big deal considering his game is all about efficiency. When he's on and when the team is rolling, Bradford doesn't make mistakes.

The Schedule: For almost anyone else, the non-conference schedule would be a nightmare facing BYU, Tulsa and Miami in Miami before starting out Big 12 play against Baylor. It'll all be a tune-up before the Texas showdown, and things don't ease up with a trip Kansas the following week. OU plays eight teams that went to bowl games last year and gets only two of them in Norman, with a trip to Nebraska one of the fun showdowns of the college football season to kick off an interesting November. Playing Oklahoma State in Norman will help the conference title hopes, but going on the road to Texas Tech will be a firefight.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Sam Bradford. 86 touchdown passes, 16 interceptions, and 7,841 yards in two years. This isn't a Hawaii quarterback lighting up the WAC, and this isn't a Texas Tech quarterback putting up big numbers in an offense that totally blows off the running game. Oklahoma's offense is balanced and ultra-effective thanks to Bradford's quick-decision making, his toughness, and his arm, and he's the one who makes it special. He has had talent around him, but he has done his part to make the receivers better. No, this isn't Jason White or Josh Heupel putting up great numbers as a part of a great offense; this is an elite talent who makes a great attack an all-timer.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DT Gerald McCoy. Even by Oklahoma's high standards when it comes to getting superstar recruits, the hype was off the charts for McCoy. He has not only lived up to his potential, but he has exceeded it with two phenomenal seasons as the star of the defensive front making 49 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks. Stats don't properly tell the whole story for a true anchor who should dominate with all the talent around him taking away some of the attention. Next year he'll be a top ten overall draft pick.

Key player to a successful season: Junior OT Cory Brandon. Trent Williams will be a star at left tackle after spending last year dominating on the right side. The interior of the line, even with three new starters, will be fine with a good rotation and excellent size, but it'll be vital for Brandon, or LSU transfer Jarvis Jones, to be consistent in pass protection on the outside. Bradford is great at getting the ball out of his hands in a hurry, but he struggles, like all quarterbacks, under pressure. It's not a stretch to think the offense could put up 2008-like numbers again if the right side of the line is a rock.

The season will be a success if ... OU wins the national title. The Sooners have won the Big 12 title three years in a row and has won it six times since 2000. While winning the conference championship is hardly anything to sneeze at, after so many trips to the BCS and after so many recent shots at the national title, the time is now for the program to get back over the hump. At the very least, if this isn't going to be a BCS Championship game season, OU needs to get to win a BCS game just to show once again that it can.

Key game: Oct. 17 vs. Texas. The Sooners have a tremendous slate of battles to deal with including dates with BYU, at Miami, at Kansas, at Nebraska, at Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State. They all pale in comparison to what it would mean to beat Texas in what should be college football's game of the year. If it's half as entertaining as last year's 45-35 Longhorn win, it'll be another classic.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Oklahoma 225 - Opponents 30
- Sacks: Oklahoma 42 for 292 yards - Opponents 13 for 95 yards
- Touchdowns scored: Oklahoma 99 - Opponents 45

- 2009 CFN Oklahoma Preview | 2009 Oklahoma Offense
- 2009 Oklahoma Defense | 2009 Oklahoma Depth Chart
- 2008 OU Preview | 2007 OU Preview | 2006 OU Preview