The 2022 Spring season gets underway this week for Oklahoma. The product on the field will look much different from a personnel perspective as well as a schematic perspective. However, looking past the new offensive installation with new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, what should fans look for? Today, we look at five questions for the Oklahoma offense this Spring.
Will Dillon Gabriel be as good as advertised?
As we begin our dive into five questions for the Oklahoma offense this Spring, we start at the quarterback spot. Oklahoma took a major hit in the offseason as Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler are no longer in Norman. The Sooners quarterback room has lost a ton of playmakers behind center. However, the Sooners grabbed one of the best quarterbacks in the transfer portal when Gabriel chose to become a Sooner. With no experience behind him, Gabriel will undoubtedly be the man to usher Oklahoma into the new era. He comes in with outstanding stats from UCF. However, can he translate that success to the Power Five? He’s already emerged as a leader in Winter workouts and he’ll have the advantage of experience in Lebby’s system. If he can improve his accuracy, he’s the most talented quarterback in the conference.
Who will emerge at the Tight End position?
With Jeremiah Hall moving on to the next level and Austin Stogner transferring to South Carolina the Sooners had some depth concerns. Oklahoma received a huge shot in the arm when Brayden Willis elected to return. However, who will provide depth? There are four names to keep an eye on. Missouri transfer Daniel Parker is more in the mold of a prototypical fullback but can catch the ball out of the backfield. A duo of true freshmen in Kaden Helms and Jason Llewellyn both have the size at 6 foot 5 inches tall to be good options. Also, Jackson Sumlin returns and could absolutely find himself in the mix.
Can the offensive line become elite again?
Oklahoma had its lowest-scoring offense since 2016 last year. Part of the reason for the loss of efficiency is the inconsistent play of the offensive line. The Sooners return three starters in Anton Harrison, Andrew Raym, and Chris Murray. These three also paint the picture of inconsistency with strength, always playing hard, and understanding assignments being concerns. However, Oklahoma adds a three-year starter from Cal in McKade Mettauer who figures to settle into a guard position. With all of the questions surrounding this group, there are about seven or eight others in the mix for playing time. This unit might be the biggest question mark heading into the season.
Who wins the running back job?
Last year, Oklahoma only had two scholarship running backs for a large majority of the season. Even though the Sooners lose one of the most productive running backs in recent memory in Kennedy Brooks, the room might be stronger as a whole. Eric Gray, Marcus Major, and Javontae Barnes will all compete against each other this Spring. Barnes, a true freshman, from Las Vegas might be the most physically gifted and might be the best of the bunch. Lebby will do a great job at getting these kids repetitions and putting them where they will be successful. Gray might be used more split out wide to get him into the open field whereas Barnes and Major could be the top guys in getting the ball between the tackles.
Can the Sooners replace departing wide receiver talent?
Finally, as we conclude our look at five questions for the Oklahoma offense this Spring, we look at the wide receiver room which again has had a decent amount of turnover. Gone are Jadon Haselwood, Mario Williams, and Mike Woods. Over half of the receiving production is now elsewhere. Marvin Mims is the mainstay, however, Spring will be huge for kids like Jalil Farooq, Theo Wease, and Cody Jackson. Farooq could be the next star of the group and was the leading receiver for Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl. A couple of four-star true freshmen in Jayden Gibson and Nicholas Anderson could enter into the conversation as well for Oklahoma.