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OU football: Sooners could be Big 12 contenders or pretenders

Like its conference as a while, Oklahoma is tough to make definitive projections about entering the 2013 season.
by Jason Kersey Published: August 18, 2013

OU played well defensively through the first part of the season, but fell apart late against the high-powered, spread offenses of Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.

Mike Stoops has admitted feeling somewhat helpless during that run, but after a year to digest what Big 12 offenses have become in his absence, Stoops might be in a better position to handle them in Year 2.

Destination: Disappointment

A new quarterback

Whoever emerges from the Sooners' quarterback battle — Blake Bell or Trevor Knight — will have a strong, talented offense around them that could make the transition easier.

Still, the most important position in football always comes with growing pains, and if Bell or Knight struggles in the role, it could mean trouble for Oklahoma's championship goals in 2013.

Departed four-year starter Landry Jones broke virtually every passing record in program history, but never won over many Oklahoma fans. Those same Sooner supporters might find themselves missing Jones when it's all said and done.

An inexperienced defense

Mike Stoops might have a year under his belt in the new Big 12, but how much will that be offset with a whole new cast of characters on his 2013 defense?

Senior cornerback Aaron Colvin has All-America potential, but other than that? The Sooners bring back senior defensive back Gabe Lynn, who's shown flashes but been inconsistent in a variety of roles throughout his career; junior defensive lineman Chuka Ndulue, a defensive end-turned-tackle; and senior linebacker Corey Nelson, who is incredibly talented but rarely played late last season, when OU linebackers became largely irrelevant.

Oklahoma could find itself relying heavily on lots of newcomers on defense, and against Big 12 offenses, that could be a big problem.

Defensive line questions

Other than Ndulue, the Sooners' defensive front is filled with inexperience. Junior defensive end Geneo Grissom switched to tight end and back last season, and now is a likely starter.

Raw sophomore Charles Tapper appears set to start at the other end spot.

The unit got a big boost by the arrival of junior-college transfer tackle Quincy Russell last week, but after missing the spring, summer and most of fall camp, how much can he really help early in the season?

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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