Oklahoma is less than a week away from the start of its 2022 campaign. While there’s been heaps of optimism and positivity coming from the camp in Norman all summer, elsewhere, people aren’t as sold on Oklahoma’s potential this season.
Some of the writers at CBS Sports shared their thoughts on the Big 12 heading into 2022. The conference’s flagship programs, Oklahoma and Texas, were deemed two of its most overrated teams. Shehan Jeyarajah had this to say about the Sooners.
The Sooners have been the model of consistency over the past six years, but they’re entering a new era. More than 40% of the roster is new, according to Venables. Gone are the top two quarterbacks, leading two rushers, four of the top five receivers, and the top three sack leaders from last season. There’s plenty of new talent to replace the losses, but they haven’t played together. The coaching staff is new, and the scheme and philosophy are new. This isn’t a turnkey operation, and we won’t see the best of Oklahoma until November. – Shehan Jeyarajah (also Barrett Sallee), CBS Sports
There’s validity in the belief Oklahoma will not look like last year. The thing about that particular idea is Oklahoma, especially offensively, didn’t look good at all for multiple stretches last year.
Spencer Rattler struggled. The offensive line struggled. The switch to Caleb Williams in the middle of the season infused new life for a while. But the team still struggled with some of the same larger issues that plagued it when Rattler was under center.
The offensive talent that was lost, outside of running back Kennedy Brooks, isn’t that big of a deal, considering they now have an entirely new offensive system, and the offensive line has a new blocking scheme as well. The Sooners are bringing back three starters along the offensive line, their best wide receiver Marvin Mims, and Theo Wease is returning from missing most of 2021.
Adding to that is new starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who’s had success in Jeff Lebby’s offense, which resulted in freshman All-American honors in 2019.
Defensively, the losses the Sooners suffered may be more significant, at least right now. Nik Bonitto, Isaiah Thomas, Perrion Winfrey, Brian Asamoah and the safety duo of Pat Fields and Delarrin Turner-Yell, had the experience and production combination that can’t easily be replaced. Potentially more important, most of those guys were leaders in the program as well as leaders for the defense. They lost six starters on a defense that needs to be better in 2022 than last year.
DaShaun White, David Ugwoegbu, Woodi Washington, Key Lawrence and Jalen Redmond will have to take big steps forward in production and leadership to help maximize Oklahoma defensively.
All in all, the belief that Oklahoma may be overrated may be a slight exaggeration. Its games with Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State will tell us a lot about who the Sooners are. If they go 0-3 or 1-2, it’s safe to say they were overrated, but winning two of those or sweeping that trio of teams would likely be enough to get back to the Big 12 championship game. An appearance and win there would pull them from the overrated category in a heartbeat.
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