With spring football starting up, teams in the Big 12 are hitting the practice field for the next few weeks. The Oklahoma Sooners start practices today, and will host a spring game on April 24th. Below, we give an overview of the program and provide an idea of what questions the Sooners will seek to answer over the course of the next month.
Despite starting conference play 0-2 for the first time in over 20 years, the Sooners regained momentum to find themselves in the Big 12 Championship again in 2020. Even in a “down year,” Oklahoma took home the trophy once again, and they enter this season as the Big 12 favorite yet again. They will be lock as a Top 5 team in 2021, but a victory in the College Football Playoff has continued to elude the Sooners.
This year, Oklahoma does lose a few pieces on offense and defense, but they return one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and a defense that continue s to improve. Head coach Lincoln Riley has made it standard for the Sooners to win the Big 12, but Oklahoma’s also lost at least one conference game every year he’s been at the helm. Will that change in 2021?
PRACTICE BEGINS: March 22nd
SPRING GAME: April 24th
LOCATION: Gaylord Memorial Stadium (Norman, OK)
Offensive Questions For The Sooners
For only the second time since he’s been the head coach, Lincoln Riley has returning starter at quarterback in the highly talented Spencer Rattler. Quarterback Spencer Rattler should have a few options at wide receiver, despite some transfers. Starter Charleston Rambo transferred to Miami, but four of Rattler’s top five pass catchers return.
Despite needing to find some answers up front, the Sooners seem poised to have a top notch offensive line. Linemen Creed Humphrey and Adrian Ealy are off to the NFL Draft, and the Sooners will need to develop two new faces in those spots. Expect Chris Murray, a UCLA transfer who came in mid-season last year, to emerge as a likely candidate to replace Humphrey at center. Transfer Wanya Morris could step in at tackle, which would solidify the line with some FBS experience.
After a season in which Oklahoma struggled with depth at the running back position, 2021 looks to be a bit of a rebound for that position group. Kennedy Brooks, who opted out of 2020, returns to the lineup, and the Sooners went out to get transfer Eric Grey from Tennessee. Brooks and Grey should both be top tier rushers in the Big 12.
Defensive Questions For The Sooners
Under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, Oklahoma continues to improve. Bet on that trend continuing, with only three starters gone form last season’s two deep. That includes defensive end Ronnie Perkins, who declared early for the NFL Draft. A new starter will have to be identified on the outside., but junior Marcus Strippling could be a name that emerges there.
The secondary might be the biggest unknown on the defense, but there’s potential in that group. Defensive backs Tre Brown and Tre Norwood decided they would give the NFL a shot, and backup nickelback Brendan Radley-Hiles transferred to Washington this offseason, so Oklahoma will need to develop some depth. Look for players like Woodi Washington and D.J. Graham to really emerge as well-known names for the Sooners. Key Lawrence, a transfer from Tennessee, could also possibly grab a starting spot on the back end.