Oklahoma Football: 5 Sooners Who Must See the Field More in 2013
With key holes to fill at quarterback, defensive line, linebacker and in the secondary, the Oklahoma football team will certainly have a different look in 2013.
Newcomers will definitely have immediate opportunities. However, the Sooner coaching staff should also focus on utilizing returning players to the fullest extent.
Whether it be an issue of scheme, personnel or inexperience, several Sooners have the potential to be key cogs in the 2013 squad, provided they get the opportunities to demonstrate their full abilities.
Here are five Sooners who must see the field more in 2013.
Although he doesn't get the ball often, Trey Millard has dazzled Sooner fans with his athletic ability.
The 6'2", 256-pound senior's 61-yard rushing touchdown against Kansas State in 2011 and his 73-yard catch-and-run against Texas last season showcased his freakish talent. Millard has an amazing combination of size, strength, speed and agility.
Millard has also proven to be excellent blocker. Unfortunately, OU's reliance on the shotgun and single-back sets has limited Millard's playing time and targets.
Over his career, Millard has logged 1,040 total yards and 11 touchdowns on 140 targets, which equates to roughly four targets per game.
Granted, Millard's blocking ability is a key asset, but the offense simply needs to get him the ball more.
The Sooners are lucky to have the gifted fullback for his senior season. Offensive coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell should make giving Millard more opportunities a priority.
As former Sooners Trent Smith and Jermaine Gresham proved, having an effective tight end can do wonders for an offense.
Unfortunately, the tight end position has been largely irrelevant at OU since Gresham last played in 2008.
Hopefully, JUCO transfer Brannon Green can revive the position.
The 6'2", 264-pound senior saw action in 11 games last season. He only caught three passes, but one of them was good for a touchdown.
Incorporating Green into the passing attack would add complexity and balance to the offense. The Sooners' acquisition of Jay Boulware as new tight end coach is a good sign. If nothing else, it shows the coaching staff is focusing on the position.
Look for Taylor McNamara, who missed almost all of 2012, to be a factor at tight end as well.
It would be natural to be somewhat disappointed with Trey Metoyer's freshman campaign in Norman.
Considering all the hype surrounding the recruit, one would expect him to make a mark immediately.
Still, Metoyer started four contests and made 10 total appearances last season. He finished with 17 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown. A respectable debut, without a doubt.
Moreover, with Kenny Stills, Justin Brown and a bevy of young talent competing for time at receiver last season, the fact that Metoyer logged four starts alone is saying something.
From here forward, though, OU needs to use Metoyer's talent to its full advantage. As long as he gets the opportunity, Metoyer will be a great receiver.
With Stills and Brown gone, the odds of Metoyer starting are good. Expect him, along with Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shephard, to establish themselves as the team's top wideouts in a talented receiving corps.
After losing Javon Harris, Tony Jefferson and Demontre Hurst, the Sooner secondary will see several new faces in 2013.
Considering the amount of youth at the area, incorporating senior JUCO transfer Kass Everett in a substantial way could ease the transition.
Everett should have a legitimate chance to start at cornerback opposite Aaron Colvin. Don't be surprised if incoming recruit Stanvon Taylor and/or L.J. Moore gives him serious competition, though.
Everett, who played in 10 games last season, is one of only three seniors at defensive back. The trio of Everett, Aaron Colvin and Gabe Lynn needs to exhibit consistent leadership and solid play to help break in the raw talent of Taylor, Moore, Hatari Byrd, Ahmad Thomas and Dakota Austin.
Durron Neal is one of the receivers from OU's 2012 signing class whose lack of playing time belies his potential.
However, Neal did play in nine games last season. And with Stills and Brown gone, there will be much more daylight in the depth chart.
Neal will take advantage of this opportunity. As long as he works hard, there's no reason the former Under Armour All-American won't be a major facet of the receiving unit.
It's exciting to consider the possibilities at wideout if Neal pans out. With Jalen Saunder, Trey Metoyer, Sterling Shepard and Neal at his disposal, OU's next quarterback will relish his bounty of targets.