Bob Stoops gathered his team before this season and made a point. No Sam Bradford, no Jermaine Gresham, no Brody Eldridge. But don’t forget, the Sooners didn’t have those guys last year, during the injury malaise that struck the Sooners.
Look around, Stoops said. Basically the same guys OU played with last year, OU would play with this year. ”Let’s face it,” Stoops said. “Those seniors, we lost ‘em a year ago.”
So Stoops had a question: “What are going to do to change? How do we go from an 8-5 team to a championship team?” Stoops’ asked the Sooners to work hard. Beef up the attitude. To accept coaching. To be tough.
It’s an interesting point, except for two things. The Sooners weren’t playing with the same roster. On defense, they lost both defensive tackles and both cornerbacks, which means rebuilding at the two most important positions on a defense. Tackle G.K. McCoy was the No. 3 pick in the draft, and Adrian Taylor’s gruesome Sun Bowl injury rendered him an ineffective player in 2010. Plus, cornerbacks Brian Jackson and Dom Franks moved on to the NFL.
And while OU played Bedlam 2009 without offensive tackle Trent Williams, the No. 4 pick in the draft, the Sooners had Williams for 12 games. So there were a lot of holes in the lineup.
And one other thing. All these freshmen weren’t around in 2009. Some are difference-makers in the 2010 lineup — Roy Finch, Tony Jefferson, Kenny Stills, Trey Millard — and others provide depth.
I know everyone, Stoops included, has raved about the freshmen all season, but it is an impressive group. So impressive that Stoops never gets tired of talking about it.
During Fiesta Bowl Media Day on Wednesday, Stoops brought up the freshmen again.
“Coach (Merv) Johnson said the other day, ‘You know, they walk in, you’d have thought they were seniors,’” Stoops said. “The way they walked onto the Cotton Bowl, going into the Big 12 Championship Game, same thing. Acted like they were 25 years old. They just have something to ‘em.”