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Oklahoma football: Bob Stoops has a makeover on his hands

COMMENTARY — After the Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M, it's apparent the Sooners need to upgrade their personnel, both on offense and defense. But in no way is the Schooner on fire.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 5, 2013

Saturday launched Bob Stoops' 15th OU offseason. And maybe his most important since taking over John Blake's mess in December 1998.

Stoops on occasion has had to address offensive stagnation or quarterback change. But rarely.

Stoops on occasion has had to address defensive deficiencies. But not often.

Now, after a 41-13 Cotton Bowl beatdown by Texas A&M, Stoops must do both.

In typical Stoops fashion, the calamity in Soonerville is relative.

Yes, the debacle Friday night moved this OU season into the disappointing category. Yet in no way is the Schooner on fire. OU was 10-3, tied for first place in the Big 12 and beat both of its bitter rivals, one by 42 points and the other with a memorable rally that long will be remembered on Owen Field.

So the idea that Stoops' program has rotted at the core is silly. But clearly, OU has slipped from its lofty status as a perennial national championship contender.

“We got to make some improvements in the offseason,” Stoops said.

Here's the task facing Stoops. His 2012 defense wilted in the second half of the season (and the second half of the Cotton Bowl).

Offense clearly carried the Sooners. Yet against OU's three toughest opponents — Kansas State, Notre Dame and A&M, all of which figure to finish in the top 10 — the Sooners scored 17, 13 and 13 offensive points. Four touchdowns total.

And now Landry Jones is gone, and Stoops apparently will trend toward a more mobile quarterback. That's a good way to go, but the chances are remote that whoever emerges as the 2013 QB will be more productive, efficient or dependable than Landry. The Johnny Football saga is the exception, not the rule.

Heck, not even Kevin Sumlin knew what he had on his hands with Johnny Manziel, who didn't win the Aggie starting job until mid-August. Maybe Trevor Knight or Blake Bell or even Kendal Thompson quickly blossoms into a star. It's more likely they struggle while showing flashes, ala Rhett Bomar.

Meanwhile, OU's defensive problems are mounting. The chic theory in midseason was that the Sooners were woefully lacking elite defensive line talent.

But after West Virginia, OSU and the Brazos Valley brothers, Baylor and A&M, lit up the Sooners, Alabama-style defensive tackles don't appear to be the immediate need.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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