COLUMN: Outlook good for 2013 Sooner football season
Heather Brown, The Oklahoma Daily
Friday Faceoff: Is OU football on the rise or decline?
Sooner football is on the rise.
Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you.
It’s hard to put a positive spin on the 41-13 drubbing the Sooners suffered at the hands of Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl Classic, especially when you consider OU soundly beat essentially the same team — minus, of course, the Aggies’ Heisman-winning freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel — last season, 41-25.
But as good as Manziel is, his presence alone shouldn’t create a 44-point swing.
So how do you handle such a sour end to an otherwise successful but disappointing season? Relax and look forward to next year.
The knee-jerk reaction is to clean house. Fire everyone. Start anew.
But let’s be real: You don’t fire a coach who’s won 147 games, eight conference titles and a national championship — you give him the benefit of the doubt.
OU isn’t going anywhere. The Sooners are still one of the best programs in the nation, and they’re only going to get better.
Hear me out: There’s no arguing the Sooners lost their fair share of talent, namely the early departures of juniors Kenny Stills and Tony Jefferson and the graduations of quarterback Landry Jones, offensive tackle Lane Johnson, defensive lineman David King, cornerback Demontre Hurst and punter Tress Way.
But OU still returns 14 starters — eight on offense and six on defense — from a team that won 10 games and a conference title.
Perhaps the biggest concern for the 2013 squad will be replacing Jones. But the Sooners will have a stable of productive running backs, a bevy of talented receivers and four-fifths of an offensive line with a year of playing together under its belt to ease the transition of whomever succeeds Jones under center — most likely sophomore Blake Bell, but redshirt freshmen Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight both have an outside chance of winning the job.
Defensively, there are plenty of question marks: The Sooners will have to retool an already thin defensive line, find some semblance of a linebacker corps and replace half of a secondary that was the strength of the defense.
But another year of familiarity with Mike Stoops’ “simplified” defense — which, obviously, wasn’t quite as simple as it was billed, made evident by the excess of timeouts called to make sure everyone understood their “simple” assignments — will bode well for next year’s defense.
So in 2013, OU will boast a more experienced offensive line, return a deep backfield and receiving corps, field a defense that better understands its scheme and introduce a true dual-threat quarterback.
Sounds like a recipe for success.
Dillon Phillips is a journalism junior and sports editor at The Daily. You can follow him on Twitter at @DillonPhillips_
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