Oklahoma Sooners 2016 Season Preview

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Updated: June 17, 2016
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The 2015 Oklahoma Sooners put together a successful 2015 season by going 11-2 on the year. The Sooner won the Big 12 title, earned a final four playoff spot, and managed to catch the attention of an entire college football nation. With the exception of ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, college football analysts from around the nation found themselves sitting down to a large helping of crow pie when it came to the Sooners.

The majority of college analysts were adamant that the hiring of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley and the installment of an air-raid system of attack would take at least a full season to adjust for a successful overhaul. Also giving extra fuel to the media was head coach Bob Stoops, who as always, made no indications which quarterback would be named as the starter. (YOU DO NOT WANT TO PLAY POKER WITH STOOPS). 

Although the Sooners new look offense was highly questioned across the nation, the strength of the Sooners was on the defensive side of the ball and that was no secret. Loaded with studs, and lead by the disruptive OLB/DE Eric Striker, gap master Charles Tapper, and the ever improving pick pocket CB Zack Sanchez, the Sooners defense was packed with elite talent. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is the type of coach that players respect and will give it their all for.

OU players will give every ounce of themselves for Mike Stoops, and with reckless abandonment they would walk through fire for their DC. This love and admiration between players and coach is one of the main reason the Sooner’s defense was one of the most efficient in all of CFB in 2015, as well as every season under coach Mike Stoops since he’s been in Norman. 

As for the untested and highly unsuspecting Sooner offense, it was soon clear just how good of a coach Lincoln Riley was. With Texas Tech transfer, QB Baker Mayfield, and a talent riddled Sooner offense, OU showed just how good Riley’s ability was in revamping an offense. Riley’s system ran so well and effortlessly that you would have assumed the OU players had been running that system since they were in high school.

Mayfield proved that he not only earned his starting position, but that his uncanny leadership qualities were ingrained in him. With heart, and fearless determination, Mayfield’s ability and energetic personality soon earned him the trust and respect of his teammates who seemed to feed off their QB’s optimistic and never quit attitude. As Riley’s implementation of the air-raid offense was in full-flow, there were some question as to what role stand out running back Samaja Perine would play in this system. As a sophomore in 2015, Perine emerged on the scene as a successful running back after being a relative unknown to Sooner’s fans in his freshman year.

With the Sooners facing Dana Holgerson’s West Virginia Mountaineer’s, the Sooners would look to Trevor Knight and the passing game, even though the Sooners had established themselves a strong run oriented offense. This news came as a blessing to Holgerson and his W.V Mountaineers. Perine at the time was thought of as a solid young player, but neither Stoops’ nor the nation was ready for what happened next. Not only did Trevor Knight not throw for a single TD, Freshman Alex Ross Showed to be a new weapon on special teams with a 100 yard TD return. But Samaja Perine was giving the rock 34 times, scored 4 TD’s, and rushed over and through W.V for 242 yards.

Perine was immediately taken into the Sooner faithful hearts. Perine would remain the starter over Ford even after Ford became active continuing to dominate as a power rusher, but seven games later the freshman forever edged his name into history for gaining the single game rush record with 427 yards and becoming not only known as a Sooner, but forever a nationally recognized FBS superstar!

With the 2015 air-raid style offense, it was uncertain how, although one of the best in the country, where Perine would fit. He did finish the season with 1349 yards, which was 364 yards shy of his freshman year, however he did share his time with RB Joe Mixon. Mixon was more of a pass threat out of the backfield for Riley’s new offense.

On the upside with the graduation of who may be one of the most loved WR/player in the history of the University of Oklahoma, a man who was part of OU’s locker room and championship legacy since his father’s death in 1999, who won a national title with the Sooners in 85.

One could almost say Sterling’s talents on the field would have earned him a spot with any team. You could argue he was born and raised to be a star WR with the Sooners. Yet with his professional career starting, Dede Westbrook will likely become Mayfield’s #1 WR and with talk that Joe Mixon will spend a lot more time with kick and punt return duties, and likely to find himself in a slot receiver spot in order to utilize Mixon’s natural talent as a sure handed route runner.

Expect Samaja Perine to return as the Sooner ground grinder and just possibly break every record held by a Sooner RB before his college career is over. As far as the Sooner defense goes, even though we say goodbye to many defensive titans, the Stoops’ brother will retool and replenish their ranks and command another great defense. Always count on Stoops and his coaching staff to not only adapt to change, but thrive when challenged.

The faces of the OU family will always be changing. However, the one thing that remains a constant, is the strength and will of a Sooner athlete and their ability to compete, conquer, and fight their way to the top of CFB and remain a threat. Look out for the Sooners in 2016 to pickup where they left off.

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