The 2020 football offseason is in full swing, with teams in the Big 12 and across the country commencing spring practices. Oklahoma began practicing yesterday, and they will conduct their 15 total practices before the spring game in mid-April.
This spring marks head coach Lincoln’s fifth since coming to Norman. Since taking over as the head coach at Oklahoma, Riley’s been one of the most successful new head coaches in all of FBS. In three years, he’s overseen the Sooners as they made three straight CFP appearances. Last season was another continuation of that success, as Oklahoma went 12-2, losing to eventual national champion LSU in the Peach Bowl.
Oklahoma’s run of dominance doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon. The Sooners, who were already elite on offense, fielded one of the Big 12’s best defenses in 2019 after Riley brought on defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. If that trend continues, expect Oklahoma to be the leader in the clubhouse once again. There are problems that need solving in Norman, though, particularly at quarterback, where the Sooners will field their fourth different signal caller in four years.
PRACTICE BEGINS: TUE, March 10
SPRING GAME: SAT, April 18
LOCATION: Gaylord Memorial Stadium (Norman, OK)
Offensive Questions For The Sooners
Lincoln Riley’s yet to have a “down year” on offense, and he’s got enough coming back on that side of the ball for there to be optimism. Five starting offensive lineman return, as does running back Kennedy Brooks. The biggest unknown headed into 2020 comes at quarterback and receiver, but potential answers are on hand there.
At quarterback, redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler, a highly rated recruit coming out of high school, is the presumed starter. Riley, of course, will most likely insist on a competition well into August between Rattler and redshirt sophomore Tanner Mordecai. Word out of Norman, however, is that Rattler has continued to impress coaches since he arrived on campus in 2019.
Possibly the only actual problems for Riley to solve come at the other skill positions. Two starting wide receiver spots will need to be filled, as will a starter at “H-back.” Sophomores Jadon Haselwood and Theo Wease could step up there. UCLA grad transfer Theo Howard, who wracked up over 1,300 yards receiving for the Bruins, might also provided much needed experience at a starting spot.
Defensive Questions For The Sooners
Perhaps one of the biggest losses for the Sooners came prior to last year’s Peach Bowl, when defensive end Ronnie Perkins became one of three Oklahoma players suspended by the NCAA for a failed drug test. If Perkins doesn’t return to the lineup until mid-season – a worst case scenario for the Sooners – then Marcus Stripling or Jalen Redmond, both sophomores, might step into that spot. Depth will have to be developed at nose guard as well, where three seniors are gone from the depth chart. Perrion Winfrey, a JUCO signee from last year, could be an answer that eventually emerges at that position.
The back of Grinch’s “Speed D” returns experience, but will need to continue progressing and generating depth. A starting middle linebacker will also need to emerge, and junior Levi Draper is a possible name there. In the back end, the major loss is at starting cornerback, where there’s not a lot of depth. Look for Tre Norwood or Jordan Parker, who have experience at that position, to become go-to options.