No one is expecting to have all of their questions answered during Oklahoma’s annual spring football game on Saturday but coaches, and fans alike, are hoping to at least be pointed in the right direction.
The Sooners return a strong corps of players from a 2017 team that made the national semifinals and, on paper, they should be the frontrunners for a four-peat in the Big 12 Conference. That said, there are some significant questions at just about every position on the field.
Baker Mayfield was the complete package at the quarterback position. He embodied what it meant to be the heart and soul of the team and he left Norman with a Heisman Trophy and a book-full of passing records.
Kyler Murray is the favorite to become Oklahoma’s next signal caller. The talented redshirt junior, from Allen, Texas, has starting experience both at Texas A&M and Oklahoma but there are a couple of factors to consider before just handing him the reigns of Lincoln Riley’s offense.
First, Austin Kendall is having a really good spring. After taking a redshirt last year, he’s bigger, stronger, and has a much better grasp of the offense. He may ultimately lose out to Murray but not without a fight. What Kendall gives up in speed (Murray is sub-four in the 40) he more than makes up with accuracy and arm strength.
Second, Murray is going to have a huge decision to make when the MLB Draft comes around in June. He’s an absolute start on the baseball diamond where he’s batting .306 and has a .417 on base percentage. He’s cranked 5 home runs on the season and has driven in 28 runs. He’ll get drafted high enough for some guaranteed money. How much is playing quarterback at Oklahoma worth to him? That’s serioulsy the million dollar question.
Can Grant Calcaterra step out of the shadows. He had an outstanding freshman campaign but still took a back seat to Mark Andrews. Now, as a sophomore, it’s Calcaterra’s turn to step out of the shadows and become that physical mismatch of a receiver who is too fast for linebackers and too big for defensive backs.
Abdul Adams is out of the mix leaving Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon as the workhorses in the offense. They are both more than capable of being the feature back and will no doubt each have their highlight moments this fall. How much quality depth does Oklahoma have behind them?
Oklahoma’s offensive line took a significant hit with the early departure of Orlando Brown for the NFL Draft. In addition the Sooners lost Eric Wren and Jonathan Alvarez upfront. While the offensive line isn’t a total rebuild, there are some big spots to fill alongside Ben Powers, Dru Samia, and Bobby Evans.
The loss of tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin was an unexpected blow to Oklahoma’s defensive line but Marquise Overton has shown that he can also be a force in the middle.
The graduation of DJ Ward opens the door for Kenneth Mann to transition from linebacker to defensive end.
Development and depth are Oklahoma’s top priorities along the defensive line this spring.
Obo Okoronkwo had a motor that never quit, which made him one of the most feared pass rushers in the Big 12. Mark Jackson will take a shot at replacing him at the Jack linebacker position but he’s got some massive shoes to fill.
Redshirt sophomore Bryan Mead will make a push at the weakside linebacker position but across the board the Sooners must develop depth along the second level of the defense.
Oklahoma lost a lot in the secondary but they also retained a lot of young talent. Corners Tre Norwood and Tre Brown are going to continue to give Parnell Motley a push and Robert Barnes looks to have the free safety spot locked down. The question here is at strong safety where Chanse Sylvie is making a strong showing.