The offensive’s immediate priority is the replacement of starter and team captain, Landry Jones. As a four year starter, Jones threw for 16,651 yards and 123 touchdowns while winning 40 games. Not a bad record. Most Oklahoma fans criticized Jones for Oklahoma’s flops in several big games which they blamed on his inability to perform under pressure. As time passes, Oklahoma fans will come to the realization that a starter of Landry Jones caliber comes around once a generation, and Oklahoma’s losses were tantamount to their lack of depth and shortage of playmakers.
With Jones gone, Stoops will most likely turn over the offense to Blake Bell AKA the “BellDozer”. For the past two years, Bell has handled the team’s short yardage and goal line offense. At 6’5”, 260lbs, Bell rushed for 24 touchdowns in two seasons in those two packages. But questions remain on whether Bell can handle the offense full time. Bell will have his share of terrific moments, but he will struggle to duplicate Jones’ efficiency in the passing game. Stoops needs deliver his playmakers the ball through bubble screens, short passes and the option so he can move the ball while easing Bell into the offense.
In the off season, the staff added new offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh from West Virginia. Bedenbaugh will have four returning starters including Gabe Ikard who should shift back to guard after playing center most of last season. With the line healthy Oklahoma has the opportunity to develop a good run-pass balance to support Bell’s growth.
Behind Ikard & Co, Oklahoma returns nearly their entire running back depth chart. Damien Williams and Brennan Clay rushed for a combined 1501 yards, while Trey Millard, Oklahoma’s hybrid H-back, plays multiple roles for the team. Cale Gundy, OU’s running back coach, described Millard as the team’s best fullback and best tight end.
At receiver, the Sooners lost Kenny Stills and Justin Brown (a Penn State transfer) to the draft, but Oklahoma has a deep depth chart at the position and will not feel any drop off in production. Jalen Saunders, who made 15 catches and 181 yards versus the Irish last year, will slide into Stills role as the team’s outside playmaker. Saunders will be complimented by Sterling Shepard who caught 45 receptions as a freshman in 2012. Behind Saunders and Shepard is a host of young and talented redshirt freshmen and recruits aching to smell the field. Stoops may just let them.