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Less than 24 hours from now, the Oklahoma Sooners will open the season against the Tulane Green Wave.
It sure feels good to type those words. Tomorrow, starting at 11:00 a.m. CST, the Oklahoma Sooners will finally begin their journey toward the national title.
As they get set to host Tulane’s home game, the Sooners will defer choice of uniform to the Green Wave creating the possibility the Sooners will be on their road whites on Saturday.
As “talking season” as Lincoln Riley likes to call it, comes to a close, let’s take a look at the top storylines heading into week one.
Hurricane Ida's impact
Before we even talk about the game, Hurricane Ida has had an impact on the lives of countless people through New Orleans, Louisiana, and up and down the east coast. Flooding and high winds have damaged private property and infrastructure that could take weeks or months to bring back to baseline. It’s a terrible ordeal for a part of the country that had already been through this with Hurricane Katrina. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to everyone impacted. Turning to the game, the relocation caused by Hurricane Ida may not have had an impact on the outcome, as the Sooners have been heavy favorites from the outset. However, it will impact the preparation, at least for Tulane. Tulane has spent the last week in Birmingham, Alabama getting ready for their season opener with the Sooners. While travel is a part of college football, spending that long away from your base of operations is atypical. With everything going on around the state, it’s hard to imagine it didn’t impact their focus or preparation. OU gets an extra home game out of the situation, though they’d rather not get it. The Sooners playing at home to start the season should help them get off to a fast start.
Who rises to occasion in Theo Wease's absence?
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It’s in times like these that having depth is a powerful weapon. And that’s what the Sooners have at wide receiver. They’ll be without Theo Wease for a couple of weeks and he may not play in the Nebraska game. Only time will tell. While that’s a loss, the Sooners have the depth to make up for losing a player that tied for the team lead in receptions in 2020. Jadon Haselwood and Mike Woods were going to figure into the wide receiver rotation anyway, but with Wease out, they should get an even bigger workload against Tulane. Mario Williams will likely factor into the wide receiver rotation along with Drake Stoops. A game like this might provide guys like Cody Jackson and Jalil Farooq and opportunity to get significant snaps.
What does the hierarchy look like at running back?
Saturday is the first opportunity for Jaden Knowles and Todd Hudson to provide the answer to the running back conundrum. Lincoln Riley spoke highly of both, so it’ll be exciting to see at what point in the game they’ll get their first look and how they perform when they get in there. Jeremiah Hall will be an option as well. Riley mentioned that his starting H-Back knows the offense as well as anybody. Getting him some carries early in games will help the Sooners’ coaching staff keep Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray fresh this week and for the duration of the season.
Will we get a glimpse of Caleb Williams?
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Much like Spencer Rattler before him, 2021’s QB1 comes in with a ton of excitement and fanfare. Though he’s not likely to play a significant role in 2021, Sooners fans will be waiting with bated breath for his first appearance with the Sooners. Even though he’s waiting his turn, every time he takes the field will provide a glimpse of the future.
Does the offensive line provide some clarity?
When speaking with the media earlier this week, Lincoln Riley mentioned that three of the five starting offensive line spots were locked up. Marquis Hayes will start at left guard like he did last season. Tyrese Robinson will start, but is making the move from right guard to right tackle. Chris Murray who transferred in from UCLA last year, is getting his first start at Tulane as the team’s right guard. That leaves left tackle and center up for grabs. Wanya Morris, Erik Swenson, and Anton Harrison will continue their battle at left tackle this week and Andrew Raym and Robert Congel will fight it out at center. Though they may not decide who will be the long-term starter for 2021 this week, how they perform in week one will go a long way to helping the coaching staff decide on their best five.