Oklahoma Football: Six Pack of Reasons Their Title Run Could Be Derailed in '11

J.D. PatrickCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2011

Oklahoma Football: Six Pack of Reasons Their Title Run Could Be Derailed in '11

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    Stoops' 2011 Gatorade Bath Will Take Some Work
    Stoops' 2011 Gatorade Bath Will Take Some WorkTom Pennington/Getty Images

    You can pull up pretty much any college football related website and you'll find Oklahoma as the prohibitive favorite to win it all in '11.  The Sooners are definitely a sexy pick.  Depending on where you read it, Oklahoma has up to 29 kids returning with starting experience.  Most of them are young, too.

    They also have a semi-favorable schedule this season, with their main concerns being road games at Florida State and Oklahoma State.  Of course, anything can happen in the Texas game as well.

    There's definitely many reasons that Oklahoma can start atop the polls and be the favorite in '11.  However, what would a pessimist say?  Why won't Oklahoma win it all?


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    Although Lewis backs it up on the field, he's never shy to express  his opinion.
    Although Lewis backs it up on the field, he's never shy to express his opinion.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    There's a lot of love heading toward Norman these days.  Football experts from coast to coast have the Sooners pegged as the team to beat in '11.  These Sooners are not only favorites, but they are also still very young, There's a good chance that they'll be in contention in 2012 as well.

    It's not real difficult for a young mind to begin to believe his own press clippings and begin to shy away from the hard work that put him in that position to begin with.  This is fertile ground for things such as complacency and entitlement to weave their way into the psyche of a program.

    Fortunately for Oklahoma, they have Bob Stoops and not Mack Brown running their program, so this probably won't be what derails them.

Interior Defensive Line

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    Boy did GK leave a gaping hole in Oklahoma's defense.
    Boy did GK leave a gaping hole in Oklahoma's defense.Marc Serota/Getty Images

    The interior of Oklahoma's defensive line missed Gerald McCoy so much in 2010 that they even altered their defense throughout the season to compensate, by employing a "50" defensive scheme.  It was a great move by Brent Venables and the coaching staff.

    Utah State and Air Force raised many questions about Oklahoma's defense in early 2010 and both were directly related to the lack of production in the middle of their defense.  Oklahoma had to change up their defense or they would have been watching Oklahoma State play Nebraska in the final Big 12 title game.

    Look for more of the same in 2011.  The Sooners did go out and get 3 of the top DT's in the country in their recruiting class, but their impact probably won't be truly felt in 2011.

    This is an area that has potential to derail Oklahoma's title hopes.

Running Game

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    Oklahoma's new crop of RB's will have to prove themselves.
    Oklahoma's new crop of RB's will have to prove themselves.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The staple in Oklahoma's backfield that has been DeMarco Murray is moving on to Sunday football.  While Oklahoma is indeed loaded with talent in their backfield that could start for most teams in the Big 12, including Texas, they are unproven.

    Roy Finch is as exciting as they come, but has a durability question to answer.  He and everyone else in Oklahoma's backfield have very limited experience at the college level.  The talent and potential is not in question, but experience is a factor that can't be overlooked.

    This is another area that has potential to derail Oklahoma's title hopes.

Special Teams

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    Oklahoma's special teams has been a head scratcher for many Sooner fans for a few years now.
    Oklahoma's special teams has been a head scratcher for many Sooner fans for a few years now.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    This one is pretty simple.  Until proven otherwise, Oklahoma's special teams is an absolute item of concern. 

    Over the last several years, two things are true about Oklahoma's special teams:

    1 - You gotta like your chances if you're the opponent and Oklahoma has to win the game with a kick.

    2 - Oklahoma has been known in recent years to give up the big kickoff return.  Not just kick returns, but  game-changing, back-breaking, "Oh God, please no" kick returns .

    This is an area that definitely has potential to spoil the Crimson and Cream party in New Orleans.

Josh Heupel

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    The Future of Oklahoma's Program
    The Future of Oklahoma's ProgramRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    There's absolutely nothing bad to say about Josh Heupel.  He has to be one of the best, if not the best developer of young QB's in the college game today.  Most Oklahoma fans would prefer to keep that a secret though and let the rest of the Nation fall in love with Charlie Weiss instead.

    It seems pretty apparent that Heupel has been being groomed to take over this program at some point in the future.  Stoops let him go to Arizona, but he knew what he had and immediately found a way to get him back quickly.  Sooner fans look forward to many more years of a Bob Stoops lead program, but have that "warm and fuzzy feeling" about the future beyond that as well.

    The problem in 2011, though, is going to be an experience issue.  Heupel did a great job in his first game calling plays in the Fiesta Bowl.  However, the environment on September 17th in Tallahassee is going to be much different than the one he encountered against UCONN.  He'll only have the Tulsa game to get ready for that trip.

    While there's no dispute that Heupel's future is bright, his lack of experience in his new role unfortunately has the potential to cause the Sooners to be on the outside looking in.

Off-Field Issues

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    Too bad the offseason is so long!
    Too bad the offseason is so long!Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    It has been reported recently that Oklahoma has violated the NCAA's workout rules.  While there's no doubt this kind of thing is going on at pretty much every major University out there, Oklahoma has reported themselves as being guilty.

    The big issue in this isn't the actual working out.  The fact that a player used a recording device as a means to report his position coach should be a huge cause for concern around the Sooner program.  This is not a good sign in regards to team chemistry, which is a pretty critical item in a championship run.

    While most Sooner fans scratch their heads at why a kid would want to commit to playing at Oklahoma and not put in the work it takes to be champion, the rules are the rules.  Football is the secondary reason they are at Oklahoma in the first place, right?

    The offseason has pretty much just begun and these Sooners have already had three police blotter incidents, and now this.  If they don't get their house in order in this regard, this will cost them their eighth championship.


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    2011 is full of potential and obstacles
    2011 is full of potential and obstaclesChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    There are definitely more reasons Oklahoma can win than not.  However, the reason's they won't win can't be overlooked.  Either way, it looks to be yet another exciting season for all those fans that love their Crimson and Cream!

    Boomer Sooner Baby!!