COLUMN: Hard times ahead for Sooner football if last season is any indication
Heather Brown, The Oklahoma Daily
Friday Faceoff: Is OU football on the rise or decline?
If Sooner Nation is good at anything, it’s overreacting when something goes wrong with the football team.
So, here’s a possible overreaction.
Things are not looking good for the program that is coming off an embarrassing loss against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
Although that one game is not a reason to complain about the team’s possible direction, there was enough evidence during the last few games of the season that could hint at some growing pains during the next few seasons.
The most obvious problem facing this Sooner squad is the defense.
In OU’s last five games — against Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas A&M — the defense allowed 189 points and 2,675 yards, which definitely are not numbers you want your defense allowing as the season progresses.
Although the team went 4-1 during that stretch, it hardly can be proud of what it put on the field those nights. If anyone says so, they’re lying to either themselves or to you.
By the end of the year, players were out of position more than they were in position, and if they were in the right spot, they could not complete the play and make an open-field tackle.
And the fact Tom Wort and Tony Jefferson have declared for the NFL Draft says things may not be great in Soonerland.
They could be jumping ship solely for starting their pro careers and earning a paycheck, or they could have seen what was in store for the defense in 2013 and wanted out.
Although the offense is in a better situation than the defense, it will have to go through a transformation with a new starting quarterback under center.
Whether sophomore Blake Bell, redshirt freshman Trevor Knight or a dark horse emerges as the starting quarterback, this offense is going to have to go through changes with a focus on its QB’s running abilities.
Also, if college football has taught us anything in terms of offense, a program needs to have some form of running game — whether it’s from the running back corps or a running quarterback. Teams that are able to run tend to be playing for national championships.
Just look at former college players like Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and the group of running backs Alabama has produced the last four years: They all have proven a program needs to be able to run the ball.
OU, on the other hand, has struggled on the ground since 2008. You can blame the backs, the offensive line or the team’s scheme, but the simple fact is OU has not been much of a running threat since former OU running backs Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray roamed the backfield.
This trend does not seem to be changing anytime soon — the offensive line is built for pass protection, and the primary back has been a revolving door of flavors of the month.
OU fans, you can be concerned about the offense or the defense, but either way, things could get a little rough in 2013. Expect a 2009-esque season rather than a 2010-like year.
Jono Greco is a journalism graduate student and assistant sports editor at The Daily. You can follow him on Twitter at @jonogreco13
Do you disagree with Jono? Click here to see sports editor Dillon Phillips' counterargument.