With the recent and unfortunate news of Oklahoma's All American TE Jermaine Gresham going down with a knee injury, one has to inquire on how the team will be subsequently affected.
Jermaine is a rare talent. At 6’6" 258, Gresham has the perfect blend of size, strength, and athleticism. He also catches everything that comes his way. Last year he led the team in TD’s with 14, and was second on the team in catches (66) and receiving yards (950).
He had five games with at least 90 yards receiving and two TD’s, eight with at least five receptions, and in the BCS title game vs. Florida, he grabbed eight balls for 62 yards to go along with two scores.
What makes him such a weapon within the Sooner offense is that he is Sam Bradford’s security blanket. With his size and skill it makes him very difficult to defend and more often than not he creates matchup problems for the defense, as he is too fast and athletic for most linebackers, and too big and strong for most defensive backs.
In most third down and goal line situations, Gresham is usually the guy that Bradford likes to go too. You can ask any QB how valuable a guy like that is to the efficiency of an offense. Gresham can almost always be counted on to move the sticks and catch the ball inside the red zone.
I don’t see Gresham’s absence of being too big a deal in their opening game vs. BYU. The Cougars aren’t exactly what one would call a defensive juggernaut and the Sooners should be able to move the ball with relative ease on them.
However, if Gresham’s injury proves to be worse than OU is letting on, it could be huge when they go on the road to Miami as well as when they get into conference play.
The Sooners are coming into the season missing their top two wide outs from a year ago. No longer will Bradford have Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson to throw to.
Couple that with the fact that they will have to replace four starters from the OL, Gresham is also a great blocking TE, and this could create more problems than one for the Sooner offense.
Oklahoma will be hard pressed to even coming close to matching the record setting offensive output of last year without Gresham in the lineup.
Although I am a Texas fan, I hope he’s ok. Gresham is a great kid, I think passing on the NFL draft when he would have most likely been the number one TE taken off the board and a sure fire first round draft choice shows a lot about his character.
At any rate, the Sooners will go into Saturday missing a big piece of their offense. For their sake, let’s hope this doesn’t turn into more than just a precautionary measure.