With college football season rapidly approaching, many Oklahoma Sooners fans are concerned about the receiving corps.
After the announced suspensions of Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson, OU seems very thin at the position, leaving many worried about the team's offensive outlook (via ESPN.com).
Luckily, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic for Oklahoma enthusiasts.
With several key pieces of the offensive returning, the Sooners have the tools to adjust to the setback and develop a potent attack. Also encouraging is the addition of a certain prized recruit and several supporting characters to the mix.
Here are five factors that explain how the Sooners will recover from the suspensions and find a way to be successful on offense.
Sooner fans needn’t worry too much about the OU pass game with the arrival of Trey Metoyer. The 6’2”, 198-lb Whitehouse, Texas native is dripping with potential. Metoyer will see plenty of game time and should become the No. 2 receiver behind Kenny Stills for Landry Jones.
The 5-star recruit (according to Rivals and Scout) snagged 108 catches for 1,540 yards and 23 touchdowns his senior year at Whitehouse High School before enrolling in Hargrave Academy to get his studies in order before enrolling at OU. After much anticipation, the eagle has landed in Norman.
In fact, Metoyer has already started his legacy in Norman after grabbing six catches for 72 yards in the spring game and drawing rave reviews from players and coaches (via ESPN.com).
Metoyer is accompanied by a very talented group of incoming recruits that can make immediate contributions. Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard, Courtney Gardner and Derrick Woods all have the potential to develop into great wideouts at OU. If they live up to the hype, Sooner fans will quickly forget about the suspensions.
OU also added transfer Jalen Saunders, a first-team All-WAC selection at Fresno State last season. It remains to be seen if he can play this season after he applied for a waiver from the NCAA (via newsok.com). If he does, he should provide a boost.
Landry Jones’ No. 1 receiver entering 2012 will be Kenny Stills. We knew this before the suspensions occurred. The third-year stud is coming off a solid campaign of 61 catches for 849 yards and eight touchdowns and should be energized entering the fall as the premier wideout.
As Jones’ go-to man, Stills will thrive. He has shown tremendous big-play potential and athleticism over the past two seasons as well as steady improvement. His return will be a huge relief for Jones.
It’s hard to believe, but Stills is the only receiver on the roster with a reception in a game last season. It's important that he understands his responsibility to lead by example and act as mentor to the younger receivers.
Without a doubt, Stills will be the anchor of the receiving corps in 2012. He brings much-needed experience, consistency and reliability to a group that is scary thin on veterans. Jones will go to the junior early and often.
We must not forget: It’s the boys up front that dictate the outcome of football games. The Sooners are blessed to have an experienced and talented O-line in place this season. A high level of play up front will make things easier for OU’s skill players and enable success in the rushing and passing attacks.
The depth chart has yet to be released, but the group features seniors Lane Johnson, Ben Habern and Tyler Evans. Junior Gabe Ikard has been incredibly reliable and versatile as a fill-in center and has thrived at guard as well. Sophomores Tyrus Thompson, Adam Shead and Daryl Williams all show promise and could see playing time.
Offensive success is not possible without an effective offensive line. But with a great O-line, the sky is the limit. Barring injury, OU should have a high-end front five. If so, we should see Landry Jones have plenty of time to throw and direct a potent passing attack.
OU will also have plenty of talent in the run game. The team should have a solid output in this area and can lean more on its stable of tailbacks if the pass game slips.
Senior Dominique Whaley will be recovered (we hope) from his ankle injury and should continue to have success. He is accompanied by the elusive and deceptively strong Roy Finch as well as Brennan Clay.
Also, fullback Trey Millard brings impeccable blocking skills and athleticism to the ground game. He will be a force once again his junior season.
Whaley, Finch and Clay should get the lion’s share of carries, but the Sooners also added a promising trio of recruits to the group in Alex Ross, David Smith and Damien Williams. It’s definitely possible one or more of them will see game action. Redshirt freshman Danzel Williams also has ability.
Regardless of how playing time is doled out, OU’s tailbacks are poised for greatness behind a formidable offensive line this season.
Also encouraging for OU’s prospects is signal-caller Landry Jones' return. He’s the leading passer in OU history and has seen a lot of football.
The season debut at UTEP will be Jones’ 38th career start. He’s certainly come a long way from being thrown into the 2009 BYU game to replace the injured Sam Bradford.
Although he struggled last season without Ryan Broyles, the senior Jones will be motivated to finish his career in Norman on a high note. He is joined by a veteran offensive line, a deep backfield and several weapons at wide receiver.
The lack of experience at wideout would be more concerning if OU had a less-experienced quarterback like Blake Bell or Drew Allen. But Jones is up to the task and won’t disappoint in his final campaign. He knows the margin for error is very slim for the Sooners to capture another Big 12 title and possibly more.