Spring Preview of Oklahoma from CFNPosted: March 13, 2007
The early spring buzz … After spending the last few months as the Apollo Creed to Boise State’s Rocky, and the program that everyone outside of the greater Norman area rooted against during the Fiesta Bowl, the motivation will be there for the defending Big 12 champions to be even better. Nine starters return on offense, eight come back on defense, and kicker Garrett Hartley might be the best in the nation.
The big spring question is … Who’ll be at quarterback? Running back? More than fine with Allen Patrick, Jacob Gutierrez and Chris Brown returning along with the expected emergence of redshirt freshmen DeMarco Murray and Mossis Madu. Wide receiver? One of the best in the country with Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias leading the way. The offensive line should be tremendous. Now a quarterback has to emerge to replace the steady Paul Thompson. Junior Joey Halzle has the practice experience as the number two man last season, but he’ll have to fight off Sam Bradford and Keith Nichol for the job. The job is as wide open as it gets.
The most important position to watch is … Defensive end. Along with quarterback, defensive end will be the biggest issue throughout spring ball after losing Larry Birdine, C.J. Ah You, and Calvin Thibodeaux. While they weren’t the pass rushing terrors they were expected to be, they were rock-solid pieces of the Big 12’s best defense. The secondary should be excellent with all four starters returning, and they could be dominant if they get help from the pass rush.
Spring attitude… Win the national title. Amazingly, the Sooners might even better even after losing their starting quarterback and soon-to-be NFL superstar Adrian Peterson, and the schedule is tailor-made for a national title run with Miami, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M all at home, and the road slate (Tulsa, Colorado, Iowa State and Texas Tech) as light as possible. Barring a total collapse, or another fluky Oregon-like loss, it might be a one game season against that team from Austin.