I thought 2010 was going to be a rebound season for Oklahoma football. But that optimism hinged most on one player: cornerback Dom Franks. Now Franks says he will turn pro, which means the Sooner defense will not be as a loaded as I thought.
The Sooner defense in 2009 was superb for two reasons: dominant defensive line and shutdown cornerbacks. The D-line still will be good in 2010, but G.K. McCoy’s absence will make it less dominant. But now both corners will be gone; Brian Jackson was a senior, and Franks is headed out.
With DeMontre Hurst filling in for Jackson, I figured the Sooners wouldn’t have a huge falloff at cornerback. But without Franks, too, OU’s defense will be sorely tested. Hard to replace two big-time cornerbacks.
OU’s offense should be better in 2010, but it’s hard to see how it can be a lot better, with the offensive line still a work in progress. No Brian Simmons, no Brody Eldridge, no Trent Williams. I know those guys were injured for various periods of time in 2009, but who can get excited about a line of Ben Habern, Stephen Good, Jarvis Jones, Tyler Evans, Cory Brandon and Co.?
No doubt it, defense is going to have to carry Oklahoma football in 2010. Young prospects abound, and the Sooners could be very good on D. But it won’t be as easy without Franks. Perhaps Jonathan Nelson moves in at cornerback. He played very well as the fifth defensive back. But he’s no Franks.
Franks got beat from time to time, but that’s what happens to good cornerbacks. They get placed on an island. Defenses that help out their corners are stealing from Peter to pay Paul. The Sooners didn’t have to help Jackson and Franks much, which meant their interior defense was that much more fortified.
Who knows now? Beating Texas just got more difficult. But at least Texas will be trotting out an inexperienced quarterback. Florida State and Cincinnati and Missouri and Texas A&M and Baylor will have playmakers at quarterback who can take advantage of inexperienced cornerbacks.
OU’s return to national prominence just became more difficult.
But good for Franks. You can’t blame a guy for turning pro, especially when he’s had a front-row seat for the injuries suffered by Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham. Franks did what’s best for him, and that’s what he should do. I think he’ll be a good NFL player. He’s bigger than most OU corners and he’s fast. Franks was a heck of a college cornerback. The Sooners will miss him.