2009 could be a very magical season for Oklahoma. They will be vying for yet another Big 12 and National Championship.
After 2008 was complete, there were questions on which underclassmen were going to leave early and which would stay.
In a rarely before seen move, all of Oklahoma's NFL eligible underclassmen decided to stay and try for that elusive eighth National Championship.
However, in 2009, there are still some questions that need to be answered before they can make that run. Following the 2009 annual Spring Crimson/Cream game, Oklahoma still has a few problems to fix, but has a better gauge of their future team, and the future looks very promising to say the least.
Without further ado, I present to you the SoonersNews.com's 2009 Sooner Preview.
Oklahoma will have a pretty familiar look heading into the 2009 season. The back four are all the same as last year, with some very dangerous additions. The wide receivers, though inexperienced, will be able to step in and do their jobs and will be one of the most underrated wide receiving corps in the nation in 2009.
The only real question mark on offense will be the starting offensive linemen, since they lost four from 2008.
During the spring game, this unit did some very good things while making some mistakes. Granted, the new offensive line had to go up against one of the best defensive fronts in all of college football. But the real key lies in whether this unit can give Bradford four to five seconds every snap, which will make OU a very dangerous offense once again.
Sam Bradford looked like Sam Bradford in the annual spring game. He went 11-for-13 for 97 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers are impressive by themselves, but what makes these numbers even more impressive was the fact he was seeing a lot of pressure from the defensive front and was sacked one time.
Sam Bradford's backup will be Landry Jones. Jones struggled in the spring game, going 5-for-12 for 73 yards. He threw one touchdown against one interception. However, his pocket presence and mobility looked very impressive. At this point, if something happens to Bradford, Landry will be able to fill in nicely for the Sooners.
During the Crimson/Cream game, the two star running backs for Oklahoma, Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray, sat on the sidelines. However, Mossis Madu did what he was able to do in either of their absences last season: lead the team in rushing.
Madu finished the spring game with 44 yards rushing on just nine carries.
During the spring game, Oklahoma was seeing what the newcomers could do. Running backs Jeremie Calhoun and Justin Johnson got the bulk of the carries, and both struggled.
Jeremie carried the ball 19 times for just 19 yards, while Johnson carried the rock 14 times for just four yards.
Though the running backs struggled in the spring game, the Sooners will have quality depth, speed, and runners. The starters will be Brown and Murray, but Madu is proving too valuable to be left on the sidelines for this Sooner squad. Look for him to play more in the slot when not getting quality carries at the tailback spot.
Calhoun and Johnson will provide quality depth and an added dimension to the Sooner offense.
Oklahoma did not have Brody Eldridge or Jermaine Gresham for the spring game, so they were able to use the other three tight ends more. This formation was not bad, but at this point in time none of Trent Ratterree, Eric Mensik, or James Hanna can be compared to Gresham or Eldridge.
When Oklahoma takes the field in Dallas against BYU, Gresham will be the starter without question. He is among the nation's best tight ends and could have been the first tight end drafted in the 2009 draft had he decided to go pro after last season.
Look for Eldridge to fill in for Gresham when Jermaine is in need of a rest or whenever Oklahoma goes to a two or three tight end set, with the third being Hanna.
The second biggest question mark coming into the spring practices can be found here at the wide receiver unit.
Oklahoma is missing all three starters from the 2008 team, but do not take that as a step back for Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is filled with talent, size, and speed in this unit. During the spring game, Ryan Broyles, the leading returning receiver, had a solid performance, catching four passes from Bradford for 59 yards.
The other starter will most likely be Adron Tennell. Look for Tennell to be a deep threat-type receiver in 2009. Also look for Jameel Owens to be starting come this fall.
Owens appeared to be more of a possession-type receiver for the Sooners in the spring game, though they did try the deep ball with him a few times. With good speed and size, he will be a very hard receiver to bring down after he catches the ball.
Others that will see the field are Brandon Caleb, Carter Whitson, and Dejuan Miller.
Led by left tackle Trent Williams, the offensive line has some major holes to fill when the season begins.
Judging from what I saw at the spring game, this unit is still searching for its identity.
Brian Simmons should start at left guard. He and Williams did a fine job in the spring game protecting the quarterback's blind side.
Starting at center should be Ben Habern. However, Brian Lepak will be pushing for that starting job as well.
The right side of the ball should be Jarvis Jones (transfer from LSU) at guard and Donald Stephenson at tackle.
Also look for Stephen Good, Jeff Vinson, Kody Cooke, Cory Brandon, and Alex Williams all to vie for starting and backup spots.
Overall, in 2009 the O-line could be better and a lot more athletic than in 2008. They just need the time to gel and get used to playing with each other.
Oklahoma had a defense last year that many thought was below average.
They seemed to get lethargic when the powerful and high-scoring offense was able to do what they pleased. This led to misleading stats and misunderstanding from the media.
In 2009, this group will once again be a typical Bob Stoops defense, maybe even better. They return all but two starters from last year's team.
The biggest question on defense is which next great safety will be able to step up and shine in 2009.
The defensive line in 2009 will be the most experienced unit on the team. They may also be the best overall defensive line in the country entering 2009. All starters return for the Sooners.
Led by Gerald McCoy, this unit will rotate seven to nine guys. The starters will most likely be DE Jeremy Beal, NT Adrian Taylor, DT Gerald McCoy, and DE Auston English. Look for Frank Alexander, DeMarcus Granger, Pryce Macon, and others to play quite often in 2009.
2008 was very unkind for the linebacker corps at Oklahoma. However, they have gained valuable experience for 2009. Led by WLB Travis Lewis, this unit will be very intimidating for opposing offenses. They are huge and extremely fast.
With Ryan Reynolds and Austin Box still recouping from injuries, Mike Balogun was able to take over as the middle linebacker and is now showing the coaches what they thought he was capable of. Oklahoma will be fine in the middle with quality and depth.
The strong side will also look familiar for Oklahoma. Returning starter Keenan Clayton will start this season.
Look for all these linebackers to be pushed though. Stoops loves playing the best guy over the incumbent if it is needed. Senior J.R. Bryant and first semester freshman Tom Wort have added much-needed depth for the Sooners. Both had pretty solid spring games.
In 2008 this unit was solid, but not great. They lost Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes, both safeties. However, the cornerbacks will be back, and if they improve from 2008, this will be yet another ball-hawking unit for the Sooner defense in 2009.
Boundary cornerback Brian Jackson and field cornerback Dominique Franks both return this season. Look for Quinton Carter to take over at strong safety and Desmond Jackson to take over at free safety for Holmes.
Others that will be vying for a starting spot in 2009 include Joseph Ibiloye, Sam Proctor, and Cortney Carter. Incoming freshman Gabe Lynn and Javon Harris could also make a push to get into the mix before the season starts.
Look for redshirt freshman Tress Way and incumbent Jimmy Stevens to battle for kicking duties in 2009. Way will handle the kickoff duties and the punting duties in 2009.
Oklahoma's 2009 Schedule and My Predictions
Oklahoma will have the defense and the firepower on offense to win every single game in 2009. The biggest inquiry heading into the 2009 season is, who will beat them?
I understand that every game and every week is a different challenge and a difficult task. To win every single game takes tremendous luck and concentration.
I also understand that it will take their best performance each and every week to go undefeated.
With that said, the biggest hurdles for Oklahoma in 2009 will be their trips to Miami, Dallas, Lincoln, and Lubbock. All these trips are winnable games for Oklahoma. This is not to forget Oklahoma State either.
When the Cowboys of Oklahoma State come to Norman, it will be Oklahoma's toughest home game of the season.
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