Texas Tech Football | Oklahoma Sooners Preview

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Blake Bell #10 of the Oklahoma Sooners scores on a 4 yard rushing touchdown against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first quarter of the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium on December 30, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Oklahoma At a Glance
Home | Norman, OK (Big 12 Conference)
2011 Record | 10-3 (6-3)
Offensive Starters Returning | 6
Defensive Starters Returning | 8
2012 Offensive MVP | QB Landry Jones
2012 Defensive MVP | LB Corey Nelson

This is my yearly attempt to educate myself on the teams on the Texas Tech schedule. I am not an expert about any of these teams, but rather I have spent a few hours studying the team and it is more likely than not that I have something wrong. Please correct me in the comments. Credit The Helmet Project for all helmet images.

Important Links | NCAA Stats (5th Total Offense; 55th Total Defense) . . . Spring Practice Central . . .

The Coach | This has nothing to do with Stoops, but aesthetically speaking, Oklahoma has the best looking college owned website that I think I've seen. Most athletic department websites are clunky, with difficult to find information and not very nice to peruse. Oklahoma's athletic web site reads more like a blog (see the link provided) and makes it really easy to read information. In my opinion, the difference between this website and West Virgnia's athletic department website is staggering. Texas Tech falls into the category of West Virginia's website. When Texas Tech did a re-design, I think it was essentially a new skin on the site and not really a re-design. When and if Texas Tech does a re-design again, take note of OU's site.

Back to the lovable Bob Stoops, who has made some changes this year, getting back to nepotism at it's best (I am kidding, I have no problem with it) as former OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables has been replaced by Stoops' brother and former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. Overall, this is probably a good move for Oklahoma, but I've never thought that Venables did a poor job. Maybe the best way to think about is that Mike was so good as a defensive coordinator that he earned the chance to be the head coach in Arizona. The Arizona job didn't work out for Mike, but that doesn't make him a bad coach, for whatever reason, things didn't work out. I don't know enough about either Mike or Venables to know whether or not this is an upgrade, but I'd guess that it might be a slight upgrade.

OU and Stoops has won 10 games for every year except for 2008 where OU only won eight games since the 2006 season. Oh to be so fortunate. Last year, OU only lost three games, but I'd guess that they want to elimiate the three losses because they were conference losses. Losses to Texas Tech, Oklahoma St. and Baylor look bad on Stoops' resume, despite OSU and BU having incredible years and terrific teams with terrific players. Something happened to OU along the way, they just weren't as good later in the season. Other than the 2008 season where OU went 8-5, OU hasn't lost three conference games for what seems like a long time. And maybe it's the fact that the Big 12 is playing more conference games.

DTN 2012 Previews
* 9/1/12 Northwestern St. Demons (Preview)
* 9/8/12 @ Texas St. Bobcats (Preview)
* 9/15/12 New Mexico Lobos (Preview)
* 9/29/12 @ Iowa St. Cyclones (Preview)
* 10/6/12 Oklahoma Sooners (Preview)
* 10/13/12 West Virginia Mountaineers (Preview)
* 10/20/12 @ TCU Horned Frogs (Preview)
* 10/27/12 @ Kansas St. Wildcats (Preview)
* 11/3/12 Texas Longhorns (Preview)
* 11/10/12 Kansas Jayhawks (Preview)
* 11/17/12 @ Oklahoma St. Cowboys (Preview)
* 11/24/12 Baylor Bears (Preview)

What We Do Know | I will readily admit that I am having a tough time following the players that have transferred and/or been dismissed from the Oklahoma Sooners football team. Just going off of memory, I think that WR Jaz Reynolds, WR Trey Franks (I believe a younger brother to Texas Tech's Jacoby Franks) and DB Quentin Hayes have had their scholarships pulled with on-again-off-again WR Kameel Jackson having to earn his scholarship back. I think this is pretty much it for the offseason, although OU has had their usual group of defections and transfers like any other program.

So how do the potential offensive losses affect OU. As most of you know, once graduated WR Ryan Broyles went down with a season-ending injury, QB Landry Jones wasn't even as good as he had been when Broyles was healthy and Jones did not throw throw a touchdown pass during those games that Broyles missed until the bowl game with Iowa where Jones had one touchdown pass. Perhaps that speaks to the talent that was Broyles, and I do believe that Broyles was/is talented, but you'd also think that OU is too talented to be so dependent on just one player. Maybe the other OU receivers were still a bit green and weren't ready for prime time, I don't know. Gone are Broyles, Reynolds, and TE James Hannah and the thought is that Kenny Stills is going to be the next big thing at OU with incoming WR Trey Metoyer expected to fill the gaps. And OU is loaded at running back, with the return of Dominique Whaley, Roy Finch and Clay Brennan all returning. That's good. Last but not least, QB Blake Bell was OU's version of Tim Tebow (SEO!), ran quite a bit out of the Wildcat and is 6-6/245 and a load. Bell led OU with 13 rushing touchdowns for the year and didn't have any rushing touchdowns until 8th game of the year. I am going to underline that sentence and ask that you think about that. Add in the fact that I think the entire offensive line returns and you've got an offense that will need some receivers to step-up their play, but is pretty salty for the most part.

Defensively, there were some significant playmakers that OU lost and I am a firm believe in these types of playmakers being more tough to replace, especially if some of these players were NFL draftees. Gone are DE Frank Alexander, CB Jamell Fleming, LB Ronnell Lewis and LB Travis Lewis. That's a lot of production. Still, OU seems to find a way to re-load and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Sooners be about where they were last year in terms of total defense. The reason why I think that LB Corey Nelson is going to be the defensive MVP is because he's the leading returning tackler and returning pass rusher. Again, this speaks to the losses that OU suffered from graduation. LB Tom Wort and DE Tony Jefferson do return and they are both quite good. The entire secondary, sans Flemming, does return and so maybe the losses along the defensive line will be made-up by the returners in the secondary.

More after the jump.

What We Do Not Know | Other than the defensive line questions, which I think is an issue, I think my biggest questions are which of the OU receivers will step-up and will Landry Jones get his mojo back. Jones lost something when Broyles went down and coaching staff looked to Bell to carry the offensive load that was lost when Jones just wasn't as good. I don't know if this will be problematic for OU to figure out what they want to be when they get into the redzone, do you leave in Jones who has undeniable talent or put in Bell who was incredibly productive? Logically, OU doesn't worry about replacing players like most other schools do, there is someone usually ready to step-up, but maybe part of it is mental for Jones and so if it's not about athletic ability and it is mental for Jones, then that is problematic. And if Bell has redzone success, does this even further any issues that Jones might have? I don't know and I'm probably thinking too hard about this, but Jones drop-off in production was dramatic after Broyles got hurt.

Best Player | I suppose it should be Jones, and you could make an argument for Nelson, but I'll go with Kenny Stills, who I think will be really tough to stop as a junior this next year.

Break Through Player Candidate | It's hard to argue against WR Trey Metoyer. He's from the same high school as current TTU commit WR Dylan Cantrell and Metoyer holds just about every receiving record at Whitehouse and wouldn't be surprised if Metoyer is the newcomer of the year in the Big 12.

Overall Fear Level With 1 Being Not Afraid At All and 5 Being So Scared Baby | On paper, OU is one of the best teams in the country and probably a top 10 team, so anytime that Texas Tech is set to play a top 10 team then the fear level should be a 5. That's probably where I'm at, despite Texas Tech's recent success against OU, most notably at home and last year on the road. OU is still talented and I'd expect there to be a bit of revenge factor for Oklahoma after essentially ruining last year's season for the Sooners. It was OU's loss that could not be explained and I still shake my head as to how it happened. No matter, OU is still the best team, in my opinion, on Texas Tech's schedule so it's a 5 for me.

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