With Spring sessions in full swing for most teams, it’s now time for people to pick apart what they think each school needs improvement on and who will have a comeback season for 2012. Of course it’s interesting to see what other writers have to say about Oklahoma and what their opinion is on what needs to be changed.
Recently, Dave Miller of the National Football Post listed the Sooners as 1 of 5 teams to make a comeback for the 2012 season. Not surprisingly, he also listed Florida State, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Ohio State. Before we jump into what he said about the Sooners, I just want to mention Florida State. It seems that the Seminoles are always listed on things like this and every season since Bobby Bowden left, the Seminoles under-produce and disappoint. Jimbo Fisher and crew have done a really nice job recruiting to Tallahassee, and they will return 9 starters on defense and their ‘stud’ QB, EJ Manuel. Analysts are saying the same thing they have been saying for a couple years now about Manuel: if he gets help with the run game, the Seminoles will be a force. I’m still waiting for this from 2 years ago..
Texas Tech is another team that people tend to want to throw in the comeback season mix. The Red Raiders and Tommy Tuberville missed out on a bowl games last season, finishing the year 2-7 in Big XII play and yes, we ALL remember that they beat Oklahoma. In Norman. After a 2 hour rain-delay. On National Television. Texas Tech may be returning more starters than any team in the Big XII, and the Red Raiders have been able to get a hold of some solid recruits. Looking at the big picture though, the quality of the players that Texas Tech will be returning compared to the size and speed of players at the larger schools in the Big XII might not get it done.
Tuberville is working to get things back on track for the Red Raiders, but he needs to remember he isn’t at Auburn anymore. The style of play is very different over here in the Big XII and sometimes those SEC schemes he uses aren’t going to work. And he also isn’t Mike Leach.
Now, onto what was said about the Sooners, which is exactly what myself and most everyone else has been saying: Stoops needed change. Since Coach Stoops has been in Norman, he has virtually had the same exact staff. Bringing his brother Mike back after DC Brent Venables’ departure to Clemson isn’t necessarily big change, but considering the defense stats and logistics during the Mike Stoops Sooner era and post M.S. era, he could be the game changer. Another concern Sooner fans have is that they are worried about replacing key components on offense like Ryan Broyles, and if you have been following Spring drills, Trey Metoyer is NOT disappointing. I think the term Stoops used was “human vacuum”. People have mentioned the replacement of Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis at DE. Considering key players leave every year at most schools, I think Stoops and crew are fully capable of being able to replace players.
Landry Jones used his Spring Break wisely. Instead of taking off to a beach, he decided to get back to fundamentals. Jones, along with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick, Andrew Luck worked out with George Whitfield. Whitfield worked with Cam Newton before the draft last year and also worked with Ben Roethlisberger while he was on NFL suspension. Whitfield started the Whitfield Athletix Quarterback training program in 2004 and has developed dozens of players into collegiate level quarterbacks and helped pros get back in their rhythm.
Yes, last season was a disappointment for all of Sooner Nation, but the Chase for Eight still isn’t over. Sometimes change is all you need and it sounds like the players and staff in Norman are embracing it.