Opt-outs and the transfer portal aren’t just affecting Oklahoma as the Alamo Bowl is looming. Oregon is arriving to San Antonio light five players who have been heavy contributors on both sides of the ball. All-American edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, starting X receiver Devon Williams and starting field cornerback Mykael Wright have all declared for the NFL Draft and opted out of playing in the bowl game. Just like the Sooners, that means the Ducks are promoting role, and bench players, into top rankings along the depth chart in the postseason.
In addition to the opt-outs Oregon also saw starting boundary cornerback DJ James and backup defensive tackle Jayson Jones enter the transfer portal. If you’re keeping track, that’s an All-American defensive end, two starting cornerbacks, and a starting receiver that are gone plus a backup defensive lineman.
Thibodeaux is the most notable absentee of the bunch but perhaps not the most crucial. Leading the team in quarterback sacks (7), tackles for loss (15), and placing fourth with 50 total tackles his absence will undoubtedly be felt but losing a pair of starting cornerbacks could amplify that even more. Despite the departures of Jadon Haselwood and Austin Stogner, Oklahoma is bringing a deep and talented group of receivers to San Antonio and their job may have just gotten a bit easier.
Dontae Manning and Trikweze Bridges each take over in starting roles now at the corner position. Manning played in just one game last year before making 12 appearances in 2021. On the season he’s registered just 18 tackles and one pass breakup. Despite having a little bit more experience than Manning, Bridges managed similar stats to his new starting battery mate, registering 19 tackles but also a forced fumble and and interception.
The loss of Devon Williams brings Oregon down to just six scholarship receivers available for the bowl game with only four of them having contributed on the season. Kris Hutson, Troy Franklin, Dont’e Thornton and Isaah Crocker have combined for 48 catches for 607 yards and three touchdowns this season. Former running back Seven McGee converted to slot receiver and has tallied 78 yards on six receptions. Those five players combined only have 128 more receiving yards, and one less touchdown, this season than Williams who hauled in 35 passes for a team high 557 yards and also a team best four receiving touchdowns.
Across the field, you won’t find anyone in the crimson and cream felling sorry for Oregon. Oklahoma is without it’s leading tackler and top three pass rushers in the Alamo Bowl due to opt-outs. The Sooners are also missing a combined 565 yards and 9 touchdowns thanks to Haselwood and Stogner hitting the transfer portal. Haselwood was Oklahoma’s top pass catcher on the year and second in yards. So, yeah, the Sooners have been hit pretty hard as well with depth chart adjustments. Weighing the complete impact that absentees will have on this game is an impossible chore. However, with both sides heavily affected it pretty much makes this a non-factor in terms of excusing a potential loss on either side.
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