Oklahoma did not finish the season the way it would have liked last year, which cost them a chance to play in the BCS National Championship game. This year's squad is out for redemption, as the Sooners return 15 starters, including seven on a defense that looks to improve under defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.
But even with all of the talent on the roster, the Sooners still have to have a great fall camp to iron out a few issues.
As Bob Stoops and company get to work, stay tuned for all of the latest updates on your Oklahoma Sooners throughout camp.
Geneo Grissom played on the defensive side of the ball last season, finishing with five tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. This summer, Grissom has been practicing with the offense and may have secured a spot at the tight end position. (Via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN)
He has been awesome; we have really been pleased with him. Stoops said about Grissom. In the summer, when you are not able to coach them, it is a little rough. But he is a talented guy. He does all of it the best, meaning they are all doing well, but with his little more experience and athleticism.
With many of the question marks at the wide receiver position, Grissom could quickly become an important part of this Sooners offense.
Bell is the No. 2 QB
Blake Bell may still be the go-to guy when it comes to goal line carries, but he will also be the starting quarterback if anything happens to starter Landry Jones. (Via Josh Helmer of Scout.com)
"The offensive staff and I have decided that Blake Bell has earned the backup quarterback position, so that is where we will proceed from here," Stoops said.
Bell was competing was last years backup, Drew Allen. He has not thrown the ball much in his career, but rushed the ball 44 times last season for 171 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Blake Bell is known as a 6'6", 254 pound quarterback, who is used mostly in goal line situations. He only threw four passes last season, but carried the ball 44 times for 171 yards and 13 touchdowns. Although throughout fall camp, he is making a strong case for the backup quarterback position behind current starter Landry Jones. (Via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN)
“He was efficient, made plays and took care of the football,” Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said of Bell’s performance after OU’s first preseason scrimmage. “He handled himself in a positive way.”
Bell is competing with Drew Allen, a quarterback who has thrown 30 attempts in his career and has been considered the backup behind Jones the last two seasons. Heaupel says a decision should come within the next few days to weeks.
“We’ll make a decision over the next couple days,” Heupel said. “That means a couple of days to two weeks to three weeks. That’s a very vague answer.”
Jalen Saunders status still up in the air
Jalen Saunders is a wide receiver, who transferred from Fresno State during the offseason. Due to NCAA rules, it is no guarantee that Saunders will be eligible to play this season for the Sooners, but that has not stopped the coaching staff from giving him a good amount of reps during fall camp.(Via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN)
“He had some personal issues and some medical issues that were a big part of his decision,” receivers coach Jay Norvell said. “It was more non-football related.”
If that is the case, Saunders will have a much better chance of being cleared for the 2012 season. He played two seasons at Fresno State, racking up a total of 80 receptions for over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns.
As if the Sooners weren't dealing with enough suspensions, senior defensive tackle Stacy McGee has been suspended indefinitely from the team for violating team rules.
"It's a big loss," said fellow defensive tackle Casey Walker. "But we'll be all right."
McGee played in 12 games last season, finishing the year with 22 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Oklahoma has a solid backfield with Dominique Whaley being medically cleared for 2012 and Brennan Clay and Roy Finch sure to receive their fair share of carries. But it is transfer running back Damien Williams that has seen to make the biggest impact so far in fall camp. (Via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN)
He’s a big back, he’s fast, he’s physical. Running backs coach Cale Gundy said. I’ve been really impressed with how he’s been able to pick things up and the knowledge of being a football guy.
We plan on playing him. He’s doing a good job.
Although Finch has rushed for over 1,000 yards in his career, the recent emergence of Williams may be the reason the coaches are giving him reps at the slot receiver position.
Dominique Whaley was one of the best running backs in the country last season, before suffering a season-ending injury. In six games of playing time, Whaley rushed for 627 yards and scored nine touchdowns. He has recently been cleared to play football again and says he is feeling better than before the injury.
“I'm a lot stronger,” Whaley said. “My frame has gotten a lot bigger. I've put on even more weight than I had before.” (Via Jason Kersey of newsok.com)
David King injury
Senior defensive end David King is expected to enter the starting lineup this season, but missed the weekends scrimmage with a neck injury. The good news is that the injury doesn't appear to be serious, as he should be back on the practice field sooner than later.
He finished last season with 31 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
Defense is upset
The Sooners had the second-best defense in the Big 12 last year statistically, but that sure isn't saying much, especially when they gave up more than 400 total yards six times. The players have heard about the poor performances and are getting fed up, according to defensive coordinator Mike Stoops..
I think our players are excited and, you know, they want redemption. They don’t feel good about what happened. We’re tired of hearing about what happened a year ago. We understand what happened. That’s gone forever, and I’ll be surprised if they don’t come back with a vengeance in those games and take it personal. And I hope they do. Again, we’re tired of hearing about it. Now, it’s time to do something about it. (Via Joey Helmer of Scout.com)
Justin Brown fitting in
Oklahoma landed one of Penn State's best offensive players in wide receiver Justin Brown, who decided to transfer due the sanctions handed down by the NCAA. Brown is coming from an offense that liked to run the ball more than the pass, but he will likely end up at slot receiver in the Sooners offense, making him a top target heading into 2012. He told Jason Kersey of NewsOK.com:
Usually a 6'3'', 212 guy is an outside receiver....But being in the slot, it gives me a good opportunity to get certain matchups against linebackers and safeties. And just helps me become an all-around receiver.
Brown played three seasons for the Nittany Lions and had 73 receptions for more than 1,000 yards and three touchdowns.
Offensive line okay?
With all of the injuries to the Sooners offensive line, you are wondering if this team should just pack up the season and hope for better luck next season. As it currently stands, the Sooners will likely begin the season with four offensive linemen who have five career starts or less.
Guard Tyler Evans will miss the season with a knee injury, center Ben Habern quit the sport after suffering a back injury, and John Michael McGee tweeted that he is likely giving up the sport of football.
Still, with everything going on, the Sooners are confident that the offensive line will be alright.
"I'll put it on record. I'll say it. I'll vouch for us," said Bronson Irwin, Evans' replacement at right guard. "I feel like we're going to be really good." (Via Guerin Eming of tulsaworld.com)
Offensive line coach James Patton says that the backup offensive linemen are looking at this as a positive.
"It's an opportunity for the next guy. That's how we've got to approach it," Patton said. "The guys are good with that. They understand. They're competitive. They want to play."
This article will be updated throughout fall camp to provide you with the latest news, injuries and everything else that involves your Oklahoma Sooners.