The Oklahoma Sooners are picked yet again to win the Big XII conference, but will the adjustments being made be enough to get it done? The Sooners always have high expectations going into the start of football season, but the 2011 season was filled with players feeding into their own hype, injuries, suspensions and basically anything else that could go wrong did.
Quarterback Landry Jones is one of those players who fans either despise or love. Most people were happy to see him putting a Sooner uniform on one last season. I happen to be one of those fans with tremendous faith in him. Call me a homer all you want, but numbers don’t lie. Despite the results from last season, Jones put up 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns. In a career those numbers are 12,379 yards and 93 touchdowns. Considering he broke several Sooner records over the course of his career, how can you not be behind him?
Jones did start to lag once his most reliable target, WR Ryan Broyles, had an injury. It didn’t help that Kenny Stills didn’t step up as expected, but the news is completely opposite on Stills’ effort so far out of Norman. Jones has been very high on the chemistry that he and Stills have been building, as well as with Penn State transfer Justin Brown.
I think chemistry takes repetitions and time,” Jones said. “Ryan and I had that because we played together for so long, and now Kenny and I are getting it because we’re working together every day. It comes with time, but we’re getting there.
Another question of concern for Sooner fans going into 2012 is the defense. They lost big play-makers like Travis Lewis, but the Sooners are looking to have a much stronger squad. With Mike Stoops back leading the charge, some of the big-headedness will be eliminated and the team can get back to focusing on getting back to the Oklahoma defenses of years past. Stoops will bring a familiarity to the defense, a familiarity that Bob Stoops trusts. He also has plenty of talent to work with, like eight returning starters, including Tony Jefferson and Demontre Hurst. Stoops has made it a point to not call out players by name, but instead mentions that the strength of team is in all eleven players on defense. By focusing on playing as a group, you can accomplish more as a team.
Stoops recently on the defense:
They’ve shown when they play as a group and they do things right that this is a very complete group. I don’t know if we have, you know, we have some impact players. We’ll see in this system — we don’t’ know who they are going to be, but we’ll see them as they emerge. Right now, we’re just trying to understand where we need to be defensively, and everybody’s trying to do their job the best they can.
The Sooners have all the pieces of the puzzle in place to win another Big XII title. Keeping this team grounded, focused and consistent is the key for 2012.