Back in March, I wrote a column previewing the Oklahoma Sooners' spring practice session and looking at some questions that the team needed to answer going into the 2010 season.
With the Sooners opening preseason practice this evening, it's time to revisit those questions and see if they were answered in spring practice or if they still hang over the team like a looming thunderstorm.
For those of you who did NOT read the column from March that I linked above (lazy people), here are the questions I asked about the 2010 version of the Oklahoma Sooners.
1. Will Landry Jones be consistent in 2010?
2. Will the offensive line improve?
3. Can DeMarco Murray stay healthy and be the feature back?
4. Who will step up at defensive tackle?
5. Is the schedule too tough?
Obviously, we can't fully tackle the full expanse of question numbers three and five until things get going a little bit, so we'll leave those for last. Let's focus on question one shall we?
In the spring, Landry Jones showed a lot of improvement in his ability to read defenses and make solid passes to his receivers. During scrimmages, he only threw one interception in about 150 pass attempts.
During the spring game, Jones showed excellent mobility in the pocket, stood tall, and made good throws in the face of pressure.
Just last week, at Big 12 Media days, all members of the OU contingent, which consisted of Jeremy Beal, DeMarco Murray, Travis Lewis, and Ryan Broyles, said that they were extremely impressed with Jones and how he had stepped up in the offseason, both in his own preparation and in the preparation of his teammates.
If the reports of Jones getting in people's faces during drills are true, then the maturity that Jones has experienced is beyond anything people have been letting on. And that is a great thing to hear if you're an Oklahoma fan.
Answer to question one—yes, he will be more consistent.
The next question dealt with the offensive line. Judging by the optimism emitting from both head coach Bob Stoops and other members of the coaching staff, this question has been answered emphatically.
Last season, Stoops had no reservations calling out the offensive line on their work ethic and the fact that they were not performing up to his standards. This season has been the complete opposite, with Stoops offering up praise for the offensive line and saying that they have made great strides in their play as a unit.
The spring game showed much improvement on the line as they performed quite well and gave both quarterbacks time to throw the football and read the defenses.
Answer to question two—yes, the offensive line will be a very improved unit.
The answer to question three is one that will come throughout the course of practice and the season. No one can accurately predict the health of someone. They can only hope for the best, which is exactly what every single Sooner fan is doing right now.
Murray is healthy right now and has been extremely optimistic about how he is going to perform in 2010, going as far to say that he feels he can break 2,000 yards this year.
Answer to question three—we'll see.
And now we come to the most concerning question of all: question number four, depth at defensive tackle.
The good news is that last week, Stoops said that Adrian Taylor, who suffered an absolutely grotesque ankle injury in OU's Sun Bowl victory over Stanford, should be practicing soon and should be on the field when Oklahoma opens the season against the Utah State Aggies.
The bad news is that including freshmen AND Justin Chaisson, who is currently listed as a defensive end on the Sooners current roster, Oklahoma only has seven defensive tackles, most of them unproven.
If Taylor returns as the player he was before the injury and sophomore JaMarkus McFarland steps up and performs well, the Sooners will be ok when the season begins. The play of those two will allow the younger players to develop behind them.
However, the younger players, especially the highly touted freshmen, really need to grow up fast to give the Sooners plenty of options at defensive tackle.
Answer to question four—no one has stepped up yet.
The Sooners' schedule, question number five, is also one that really cannot be answered until we see this team perform on the field. It will be some time before we have an answer to that question, so obviously, this one is TBD.
Oklahoma answered many questions besides these during the spring, and the time since has given Sooner fans no new reasons to be concerned for the 2010 season.
Provided the injury bug doesn't bite the Sooners this year, this team has the potential to be good.