Here is a look at the top storylines for the Oklahoma football team heading into spring practice this week:
1. New-look defense?
Oklahoma coaches have denied making any firm decisions about their 2013 defensive scheme, but all signs point to a switch to the 3-4 (three defensive linemen, four linebackers). The new-look defense also includes lots of new faces.
Senior cornerback Aaron Colvin, who considered bolting for the NFL Draft, senior defensive back Gabe Lynn and junior defensive end Chuka Ndulue are the only returning defenders with a significant number of career starts.
Typically, in 3-4 schemes, traditional defensive ends back off the line of scrimmage and become outside linebackers. The three down linemen are usually defensive tackles, and the Sooners have few of them. Four defensive tackles were signed in OU's 2013 recruiting class, but there are only three on campus for spring practices.
2. Improved offensive line
Once junior-college transfer Josiah St. John arrives in the summer, he'll likely take on a significant role on the two-deep at tackle. For now, though, the tackle position remains pretty thin.
Oklahoma is in good shape at the interior positions; Seniors Adam Shead and Bronson Irwin each played well despite some nagging injuries last season, and Tyler Evans and Nila Kasitati will both be back from ACL tears. If needed, Ty Darlington could easily take over the center position, allowing Gabe Ikard to play guard. Junior-college transfer Dionte Savage could also contribute.
3. New faces on the coaching staff
Bob Stoops' coaching staff is filled with the hiring of former Auburn assistant Jay Boulware, who will coach tight ends and special teams. Stoops also added offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, who came from West Virginia and Michigan, respectively.
All of the new coaches inherit position groups in need of improvement. In Oklahoma's three 2012 losses, it was beaten in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The tight end position became largely irrelevant last season — in part due to Oklahoma's abundance of wide receivers — but also because the tight ends on campus failed to produce and/or stay healthy.