Oklahoma Football: State of the Program
Let’s look at the Oklahoma football program since the 2015 season and discuss the state of Oklahoma Sooner football. There have been many positives and a fair share of negatives in the past five seasons. With these things in mind, let’s begin the discussion.
It would very difficult to put much blame on the Oklahoma offense. Some of the best offenses in Oklahoma as well as NCAA history have resided in Norman, Oklahoma during the last five years.
Arguably two of greatest quarterbacks in Sooner history have guided the offense during this five-year span. Very few of the experts could argue that Baker Mayfield is the best quarterback in Oklahoma history. Not only was Mayfield a great quarterback, but a great leader on and off the field.
Just when everyone felt they would never see a quarterback the equal of Mayfield along comes Kyler Murray. Murray had statistically the greatest single year in Sooner history.
Of course, as everyone knows they were both Heisman Trophy winners as well as number one overall NFL draft picks. No other team has ever had back to back overall number one NFL draft picks, let alone quarterbacks.
Some of Oklahoma’s greatest wide receivers and tight ends played during this era. This is a distinguished list. This list includes wide receivers such as Sterling Shepard, possibly the top receiver in Sooner history. Another great on this list is CeeDee Lamb, one of the surest handed and elusive receivers in Oklahoma history.
As far as tight ends, Mark Andrews has to be included as one of the best in school history. Andrews was a consensus All-America and Mackey award winner in 2017.
Possibly the strongest group during this span was a dominant offensive line. Oklahoma had three consensus All-America and double-digit All-Big XII selections.
Clearly the offense was not the problem during the last five seasons. To any knowledgeable fan, the problem was obvious.
The Oklahoma defense or lack of it, what has that cost the Sooners? In the opinion of many, it has cost them two National Championships. So, what happened to a team that had a reputation of great defenders and great defenses?
Part of the problem was clearly diminished talent on that side of the ball. This was partly due to poor recruiting and player evaluation. There isn’t much doubt that the on-field coaching was not up to Oklahoma standards. Lastly, the development of players once on campus just didn’t happen.
So, let’s see where the blame truly lies. Unfortunately, a lion share of the blame falls on Mike Stoops! Stoops did a poor job of recruiting, and player development. Many athletes, especially in the secondary showed great promise early on as freshmen and sophomores. But, by the time they were juniors and seniors a big drop off occurred. There are several things that can be attributed to this decline. In all likelihood, it seemed at many times the players simply quit on Stoops. Without a doubt, Stoops did not relate well to today’s players. Constantly yelling and screaming at players doesn’t play out well with today’s young athletes. There is a reason the Stoops was moved from the sidelines to the press box. There simply had to be a buffer between Stoops and the players.
What could have been done differently? Should have head coach Bob Stoops fired his defensive coordinator? How do you fire your own brother? It is widely known that family is a big priority in the Stoops family. There are many that feel that this was a big contributing factor in the resignation of Bob Stoops.
The future of the defense
What does the future hold for the defense at Oklahoma? It is readily apparent that defense is what has held the Sooners back. The defense took a giant step forward in 2019 under the direction of new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
The Sooners added a very good defensive recruiting class in 2020. By recruiting service rankings this class was not up to Oklahoma standards. But contrarily, the Sooners filled a lot of defensive needs. The defense should make equally large improvements this upcoming season. Early 2021 recruitment is clearly focusing on top national defensive recruits with positive interest.
There definitely should be a reason for hope on the defensive side of the ball in Norman, Oklahoma.