247Sports includes Oklahoma among programs ‘facing pivotal seasons in 2023’

2022 wasn’t a good season for the Oklahoma Sooners. There’s no way around it. However, it wasn’t a program-defining season in Brent Venables’ first in Norman. It was every bit of the “transitional year” that we hear about in college football.

At the same time, there’s an expectation that comes with being the Oklahoma Sooners. And those expectations haven’t changed. The 2023 season will be key to defining the future of this program under Brent Venables.

247Sports’ Brad Crawford believes the Sooners are a program facing a pivotal season in 2023. Other programs include Florida, Texas A&M, and Ohio State.

Oklahoma’s overhaul on defense may take longer than expected for Brent Venables, whose loss during bowl season sent the Sooners to their first losing season since 1998. Signing a top-five recruiting class for 2023 is absolutely the best offseason news Oklahoma could have received, however. Not only did the program land five-star quarterback Jackson Arnold, who will be “the guy” in 2024, following the departure of returning starter Dillon Gabriel this coming season in 2023. It made tremendous strides defensively with the arrival of five-star flip Peyton Bowen, five-star edge Adepoju Adebawore and several immediate impact Day 1 starters in the transfer portal, including defensive end Dasan McCullough. The Sooners gave up 461 yards per game and 30 points per game last season, their worst marks since the 2018 season under Lincoln Riley. – Crawford, 247Sports

Coming off of a 6-7 season, it would be really easy to lose faith in what is being built in Norman. But several close games, the way they finished on the recruiting trail, and their work in the early part of the transfer portal have many optimistic about Oklahoma’s future.

The guy that helped Oklahoma develop one of the best defenses in the country from 2000 to 2010 is the same guy that helped Clemson win national championships. Brent Venables is still that guy.

Armed with a transfer haul that will add difference-makers at each level of the defense, the Sooners have a chance to improve that side of the ball in 2023. The defense is on its way. And that doesn’t even mention the 10 blue-chip players they added in the 2023 recruiting class.

If they can improve the defense and keep a similar level of production on offense, they’ll be several wins better next season. Several wins better and they’ll be competing for a Big 12 title.

2022 was a disappointing season, but that will make the bounce back in 2023 even sweeter.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire