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Sooners Expect To Challenge For Big 12 Supremacy Even After Losing Key Pieces

Posted by Blake Frazier on 7/14/2013 8:27:54 PM

The Oklahoma Sooners have been to 14 bowl games in each of head coach Bob Stoops’ 14 seasons with the program. That online sports betting streak will likely continue this year. Even after losing quarterback Landry Jones the Sooners are expected to contend with Oklahoma State and Texas for the best record in the Big 12, and while those expectations may be a little high, it isn’t like anyone is going to tell that to Stoops.

OFFENSE

In addition to losing Jones, Oklahoma also lost its top two receivers from last year and there are question marks to how these roles will be filled. Junior Blake Bell is the favorite to take over at quarterback where he flourished as a backup with 24 touchdowns on 104 carries over the past two seasons, but there are concerns about how well he will be able to move the ball through the air having thrown just 20 pass attempts over that same span. Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight should figure in to the mix, and it will help that the offensive line will feature four returning starters. Senior running back Damien Williams will have his work cut out for him early on along with fellow senior Brennan Clay, while Stoops will try and move senior wide receiver Jalen Saunders around the field in order to put him in the best possible position to make plays.

DEFENSE

There are much bigger concerns on the defensive side of the ball where just four starters return, two of which are in a secondary that was very shaky last online sportsbook season. Senior cornerback Aaron Colvin is considered a shutdown performer after batting down 11 passes in addition to four interceptions a year ago, but the rest of the secondary is suspect with three true freshman listed as backups at the cornerback spots. Senior linebacker Corey Nelson and junior defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue are the two returning starters in the front-seven, and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is going to have a tough time filling the gaps in and around them even if they stay healthy.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker Michael Hunnicut was solid last season, hitting 17-of-21 field goals, but the punter spot isn’t as steady with junior college transfer Jed Barnett filling the void. There are plenty of options in the return game, and it will be interesting to see how willing Stoops is to consider using some of the freshman talent at his disposal.

2013 OUTLOOK

Oklahoma has too many holes to be considered the sports betting favorite in the Big 12, but the reputation is still there and some quality weapons remain with Williams, Saunders, and a strong offensive line. Bell is the most likely candidate to handle the starting quarterback job, and it will be interesting to see how he fares in the early going especially as he gets a couple of good opportunities to feel things out before a trip to Notre Dame in week four.

2013 PROJECTION: 8-4; 3rd in Big 12

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